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Donation Brings McKenzie Regional Workforce Center Closer to Its $35M Goal

As crews moved dirt and cement into place at the construction site for the McKenzie Regional Workforce Center, the facility’s financial future became a little sturdier thanks to a generous donation from an area nonprofit. 

Ascendium gave $1.5 million to the project, which aims to fill the need for skilled trade laborers while empowering all young people, especially those in need, to reach their full potential as productive, responsible and caring adults. Conceived by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County and the Madison Area Builders Association, the center is slated to open this summer.

The facility will host Careerforce Build Up, the skilled trades training program designed to educate and support interested youth to pursue careers as plumbers, carpenters, HVAC technicians, electricians and more. Hundreds of young people are expected to receive training through the program.

For Ascendium, supporting the center and its programming was an easy call.

“Ascendium’s philanthropic mission focuses on how transformative education and training beyond high school can be in the lives of learners from low-income backgrounds,” said Brett Lindquist, Ascendium’s vice president - strategic communications, adding that the center’s goals are closely aligned with that mission. “We are working on these issues at a national level, and it's wonderful to support innovative and effective initiatives in our own backyard.”

This isn’t the first time Ascendium has supported a Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County initiative. In 2021, the education nonprofit gave $250,000 to the organization’s AVID/TOPS and TOPS College Success programs, which help support learners from low-income backgrounds at every step of their academic journey.

"The dream of building a skilled trades center in Dane County is soon to be reality, and it is because of supporters like Ascendium," Michael Johnson, president/CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County, said. "McKenzie Regional Workforce Center will be the largest of its kind in South Central Wisconsin, and it will provide opportunities for young adults to access resources, programming and support systems that will diminish achievement gaps and generate transformational change for families in our community."

With Ascendium's donation, the McKenzie Regional Workforce Center is $4.9 million away from its $35 million goal and a step closer to offering another pathway to career success. 

When donors give now through August of 2023, their support will help sustain and allow maintenance of the facility for years to come. The generous donations will go toward the creation of pathways for young adults to gain certifications or on-the-job training, such as apprenticeships that result in quality jobs, at a time when there is a shortage of trained and skilled trade workers. Curriculum will also include entrepreneurial classes to show students how they can potentially build a business in the construction trades.

About Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County: Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County is a leader in youth development programs, working with local businesses, foundations and community programs to produce positive outcomes for more than 7,500 young people and their families. Our core program areas include character and leadership, health and wellness, education and career development, sports and recreation and the arts. To learn more, visit bgcdc.org/.

About Ascendium Education Group: Ascendum Education Group is committed to making education and training beyond high school a reality for more people. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, we fund initiatives across the U.S. that help learners from low-income backgrounds achieve upward mobility; provide student and employee success solutions to colleges and businesses; invest in education-focused innovations to improve learner outcomes; and provide information, tools, and counseling to help millions of borrowers successfully repay their federal student loans. While we have many roles, we have one goal — elevating opportunity by creating a world where everyone can rise to their highest potential. To learn more, visit ascendiumeducation.org.