Black and Latino/a Ecosystem and Support Transition (BLEST) Hub


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 boys and men for the some of the key transitional moments in their lives: 

  1. High School to College 
  2. High School to Job 
  3. College to College 
  4. College to Job 


I. Milwaukee Area Technical College 

II. Black Male Achievement Advisory Council 

III. Milwaukee Public Schools 

Black and Latino Male Achievement Initiative  

IV. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Roberto Hernandez Center

V. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Black Cultural Center 

VI. Employ Milwaukee 


  • Creating a space where Black and Latino young men find supportive resources during formation and transnational times 
  • Highlight opportunities in the city of Milwaukee that support academic and social aspects of students 
  • 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’s Black and Latino Males Achievement program into existing summer programs at UWM, Marquette, and MATC 
  • Aid with increasing participation of Black and Latino males MPS’s Black and Latino Male Achievement program into UWM, Marquette, and/or MATC  
  • Aid with the  exposure of participants in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s African American Male initiative to educational opportunities at MATC with an emphasis on dual enrollment and transfers 

Current Projects 

  • Development of ecosystem map for city-wide needs assessment and identification of gaps and opportunities for synergy
  • Focus group work with students at and across various institutions of higher learning on experiences of Milwaukee as Black and Latino/a students
  • Supporting initiatives and programming, such as Milwaukee Succeeds’ Design Your Future summer fellowship

Support & Services Ecosystem Map for Milwaukee Black and Latino/a Students

One of the most important tools is the ecosystem map using KUMU software. KUMU allows us to visually represent the actors and partnerships that exist between the number of non-profits, government entities, for-profit organizations, grassroots organizations, and coalitions that exist in Milwaukee. Our objective is to create a usable tool to understand the resources for Black and Latino/a students, and to highlight the nature of connections that unite the number of organizations in the city. We believe that this visual representation of quantitative and qualitative data we have been collecting will help us better understand MKE as an ecosystem and serve as a community resource once it is publicly disseminated.






Yearly State of the Ecosystem Report

The Team

  • Dr. Gabriel Velez, Faculty Director 
  • Dr. Rob Smith 
  • Walter Lanier 
  • Verónica Mancheno 
  • Saúl López