The Ramirez Family Foundation is planning to expand their efforts in education in Milwaukee by developing the former Cardinal Stritch University campus into a secondary school.
The Foundation purchased the Stritch campus on Wednesday for $24 million, after the embattled university announced that it would be closing due to financial troubles in April. Chairman of the Foundation Gus Ramirez told WTMJ the campus wasn’t on his radar until he attended a graduation ceremony a few weeks ago.
“At the event I was impressed by the facility so I walked around the campus and then went back and looked at the listing,” he said.
Ramirez said he realized that by keeping the site focused on education, it would be far less costly to redevelop, and set the process in motion to make an offer on the listing.
“The value represented by the assets at Cardinal Stritch, if it was used for educational purposes, was immense,” Ramirez said.
That’s the plan – to continue the legacy of faith-based education at the site, just not for college students anymore.
“”I believe we will end up with either a new school or a north campus of St. Augustine Preparatory Academy,” Ramirez said, “That decision has yet to be made.”
The K-12 St. Augustine Preparatory Academy is the flagship of the Foundation’s contributions to education in Milwaukee, and is currently wrapping up a $50 million expansion project funded by the Foundation that Ramirez said will allow them to admit 400 more students and hire 70 new staff members. Aug Prep opened in 2017 specifically to serve the Hispanic population on the south side of Milwaukee.
With the new school, whether it becomes an expansion of Aug Prep or not, Ramirez said they will be expanding the demographics of potential students they will be targeting.
“We will market the school to schools within five miles of the Cardinal Stritch campus,” Ramirez said, “and it includes schools that serve the middle class, upper class as well as students of need.”
The specific age range the school will serve hasn’t been determined yet, with Ramirez saying they are considering grades K-12 as well as 6-12.
Given the north side’s more diverse makeup around the Stritch campus, Ramirez said they are hoping to serve both Black and white students in addition to continuing their focus on the Hispanic community.
“This creates an ability for us to have students from all over Milwaukee attend this school,” Ramirez said, “I expect that on the south campus that we will have waiting lists and with a new school on the north side we could transfer that waiting list to the school on the Cardinal Stritch campus.”
For now, the focus remains on Aug Prep. But once the Foundation’s projects there wrap up, Ramirez said it will be all eyes on Cardinal Stritch to finalize plans and start work on the new school.