The BLEST Hub leadership team includes Dr. Gabriel Velez, Dr. Robert S. Smith, Walter Lanier, Verónica Mancheno, and Saúl López.  Partners of the BLEST Hub include Milwaukee Area Technical College, Black Male Achievement Advisory Council, Milwaukee Public Schools, Black and Latino Male Achievement Initiative, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Roberto Hernandez Center, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Black Cultural Center, and Employ Milwaukee. 


The Creation of a Black and Latino Male Transition & Dual Enrollment Hub located at Marquette’s Center for Urban Research, Teaching and Outreach (CURTO). The idea is designed around the premise of equipping a targeted group of Black and Latino/a students for the some of the key transitional moments in their lives: from High School to College, High School to Job, College to College, or College to Job. 


  • Creating a space where Black and Latino students find supportive resources during formation and transnational times 
  • Highlight opportunities in the city of Milwaukee that support high school and post-secondary students' academic and social aspects 
  • Review, highlight, and establish metrics for local organizations that seek to close the education gap 
  • Aid with the increasing dual enrollment of Black and Latino males from MPS’ Black and Latino Males Achievement program into existing summer programs at UWM, Marquette, and MATC 
  • Aid with increasing participation of Black and Latino/a students into UWM, Marquette, and/or MATC  

What we can offer Milwaukee 

We can and want to offer Milwaukee up-to-date information regarding the state of the services that as a city we offer our students. We are calling this process the mapping of our ecosystem because collectively, our programs, service, and outreach efforts create a web that has the potential to sustain and support the flourishing of our youth through mutually beneficial relationships. This process of mapping our ecosystem allows us to design a trusting space for communication, collaboration and coordination among organizers, activists, educators, government officials and academics. 

What we can offer organizations 

What we can and want to offer organizations is a safe space that is independent of city politics and funding sources. Such a space can sustain conversations across sectors and organizations in order to collectively build our capacity as a city with the aim of better supporting the development of our youth. It is within this space that we can offer and want to offer an intellectual hub where best practices, key metrics and research can be identified and shared with all. 

What we can offer our Black and Latino/a students 

We can and want to offer our Black and Latino/a students in Milwaukee practical and effective programming that supports their development where there are gaps in such services. We can offer and want to offer our students timely information about available resources, opportunities  and organizations as they navigate key transition points. We cannot do any of this without the active engagement of our youth and their voices across all sectors and throughout the process necessary to develop our understanding of Milwaukee as an ecosystem. Therefore, our most important contribution and desire is to make visible the voices of our youth and to be influenced by their lived experiences.

Learn more about BLEST Hub initiatives.