PAVE Tops $100 Million in School Expansion Projects

By Michelle Burmeister, Communications Director

PAVE invests financial and human capital in high-potential Partner Schools in Milwaukee, and as the new school year begins our board is pleased to announce that PAVE has participated in over $100 million in successful school expansion projects since 2001.

PAVE has directly contributed $5.2 million in the form of planning and challenge grants and provided $18.1 million in loans for the growth and expansion of 30 different school networks in Milwaukee. Other financing partners that PAVE has built relationships with over the years – banks, insurance companies, IFF, and many others – have been critical partners in these projects that now have a total value of over $100 million.

PAVE’s Capital Investment Program was launched by a $16 million grant from our greatest partner in expanding high potential, value-based and community centered schools – The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.

After providing $24 million in scholarships between 1992 and 2001 that enabled children from low-income families to attend Milwaukee’s private schools, PAVE recognized the need to expand effective schools since they often had to turn students away for lack of space. St. Marcus Lutheran School was PAVE’s first major successful project. Pastor Mark Jeske was the visionary leader who worked for two years to develop support for a new school facility with PAVE‘s assistance.

“PAVE was so helpful providing technical assistance and a $150,000 challenge grant, and then enabling us to obtain a very favorable loan,” said Pastor Jeske. “In fact, our whole financing package would not have happened without PAVE.”

St. Marcus Lutheran School

St. Marcus Lutheran School

From capital investments and loans, to building the capacity for volunteer leadership and accountability in Milwaukee schools, PAVE continues to evolve to provide high potential schools with the resources necessary to achieve their visions. “Over the years we have been successful working behind the scenes, while highlighting our Partner Schools who deserve recognition for educating Milwaukee’s children—and the significance of almost $100 million invested in high quality educational opportunities is something we’re proud to celebrate,” said Dan McKinley, President of PAVE.

The recent expansion of Notre Dame Middle School is the project that brought PAVE’s Capital Investment Program to over $100 million in total value. PAVE’s support of Notre Dame’s expansion also highlights our emerging focus on providing a diverse mix of governance and organizational capacity building services to help create and sustain high-performing school organizations.

PAVE was instrumental in facilitating the strategic plan carried out by Notre Dame’s board, as well as providing $1 million in low-cost financing for the renovation of a school building that will accommodate the new students.

Mary McIntosh, President of Notre Dame Middle School, articulates PAVE’s impact best: “Three years ago, PAVE helped guide us through a strategic planning process where the idea for Notre Dame Primary School was sparked. Within a year, we opened the co-educational primary school and today we have a full K5 through 8th grade school, allowing us to increase the number of deserving students we educate from 119 in 2008 to 370 this school year. Our entire school community is grateful to our friends at PAVE for their partnership and support over many years.”

Notre Dame Primary School


55 Milwaukee Schools Have This In Common

By Michelle Burmeister, Communications Director

They’re 2014 – 2015 PAVE Partner Schools!

55 PAVE Partner Schools

PAVE will be working with 38 Partner School networks, consisting of 55 schools, during the 2014 – 2015 school year. We’re proud to call these schools Partners and support quality education for close to 24,000 Milwaukee students.

  • Atonement Lutheran School
  • Bruce-Guadalupe Community School
  • Business and Economics Academy of Milwaukee, Inc. (BEAM)
  • Capitol West Academy
  • Central City Cyberschool of Milwaukee
  • Dominican High School
  • Eastbrook Academy
  • Highland Community School
  • Hillel Academy
  • Hmong American Peace Academy
  • HOPE Christian Schools (Prima, Fortis, Hope Christian High School)
  • King’s Academy
  • La Causa
  • LUMIN (Concordia University School and Pilgrim Campus, Northwest, Sherman Park, St. Martini)
  • Lutheran Special School
  • Malaika Early Learning Center
  • Messmer Catholic Schools (High School, Preparatory, St. Rose, St. Leo)
  • Milwaukee Academy of Science
  • Milwaukee College Prep (36th Street, 38th Street, Lloyd Street)
  • Milwaukee Collegiate Academy
  • Milwaukee Environmental Sciences
  • Mount Lebanon Lutheran School
  • Nativity Jesuit Middle School
  • Northwest Catholic
  • Notre Dame Middle School
  • Pius XI High School
  • Risen Savior Lutheran School
  • Seeds of Health (Veritas High School, Windlake Academy, Windlake Elementary, Grandview High School, MC2 High School, Tenor High School)
  • St. Anthony School of Milwaukee
  • St. Coletta Day School of Milwaukee
  • St. Joan Antida High School
  • St. Marcus Lutheran School
  • St. Thomas More High School
  • St. Vincent Pallotti Catholic School
  • Tamarack Waldorf School
  • Urban Day School
  • Wisconsin Lutheran High School
  • Woodlands School (Bluemound Road and Woodlands East)

These schools have completed PAVE’s assessment process and we carefully and thoroughly look at the current state of the school, as well as its long-term potential. More on that process here in Dave Steele’s blog post How Good Is My School?

Each school has unique successes and challenges and our work with them over the next two years will be varied and vast. Our wheelhouse of expertise lies in a few different areas, not including curriculum development or teacher coaching – we leave those things up to the various other highly capable school support organizations in Milwaukee. PAVE has expertise in supporting the organizational / business side of things at a school. This includes:

  1. Advisory Services (provided by PAVE staff – board development, fund development, communication, search committee participation)
  2. Outside Consultant Services (connected by PAVE and 90% funded)
  3. Board Corps – recruiting, training, and connecting professionals to serve on the boards of our Partner Schools
  4. Community Connections (i.e. First Stage and/or Milwaukee Art Museum)
  5. Providing funding for school growth, improvement, and innovative programming

(Visit for more details on each of these areas.)

Some of our schools need PAVE’s support in all of these areas and others in perhaps just one or two. We connect with schools wherever they are on their journey to becoming, sustaining, or surpassing “great.”

With which PAVE Partner School(s) are you familiar? Share in the comments and tell us what’s great about your school!

How Good Is My School?

By Dave Steele, Director of School Partnerships

PAVE's Assessment Process

As a parent myself, and a proud Milwaukeean, I know that the question “how good is my kid’s school?” weighs heavily on parents’ minds across our great city. I also know that my ultimate measure of the quality of a school is whether or not I would send one of my two boys there. When evaluating a potential school, a parent wants to know whether their child will receive the highest quality instruction in a productive, engaging and caring environment.

PAVE’s process of assessing our Partner Schools is not altogether different from how a parent chooses the best school for their child, but we go deeper. We consider not only the current state of a school, but its long term potential. We evaluate whether a school is a healthy organization where changes in personnel and other circumstances won’t significantly impact its core mission of educating kids. Where a strong board of directors, working in close partnership with parents, community and staff, articulate a clear vision for educational excellence, allocate resources wisely, and hold themselves and their head of school accountable for results. It’s these indicators of organizational health that PAVE considers when assessing potential new Partner Schools and guiding existing partnerships.

For most of us, the ultimate indicator of whether a school is good is the test scores that a school produces. This makes intuitive sense. If we want to know whether students are learning, we consider first and foremost their test scores. But if we evaluate a school solely on test scores, which test scores should we put more weight on? The State’s standardized test, tests that reflect national benchmarks like Iowa Test of Basic Skills, college entrance exams like the ACT? And how should we evaluate schools with non-traditional approaches such as Montessori programs or schools that serve primarily students with special learning needs? And consider schools that have taken on very difficult missions, such as high schools serving high percentages of students entering 9th grade well below grade level?

Suddenly a simple sounding question — “how good is my school?” — has a very complex answer. Schools must be held accountable for results, but a one-size-fits-all approach to evaluating schools misses a lot of great work going in a diverse array of schools serving the diverse needs of our communities.

At PAVE, we believe that lasting change in Milwaukee education will require sustained excellence at each school serving kids in Milwaukee. We meet each of our Partner School organizations where they are, and seek to provide them with the resources to help their boards and organizations successfully achieve their missions. To do this work we must understand each school as a unique organization. While all schools share a common goal, each school has unique assets and faces unique challenges. PAVE’s assessment process is based on our 20 years of experience in working to develop excellent urban schools, and is our method of evaluating potential partnerships, as well as guiding our work with each school we partner with.

Ultimately, a community decides whether a school is doing its job. This community is made up of parents, community supporters, board members, and school leaders, who agree on the school’s educational vision. PAVE’s Assessment Process seizes upon this unique vision for each school, helps boards define those goals aligned to that vision, and, allows PAVE to deploy those necessary resources, partnerships, and connections to help schools achieve their visions and fulfill their critical missions.

For an overview of the Spring 2014 assessment, view this video that was created for schools interested in engaging in our process:

Keep up with PAVE’s Blog for more posts about our assessment process.