St. Augustine Prep Details Plans for $42 Million Expansion
St. Augustine Preparatory Academy, a high-performing K4-12 non-denominational Christian school located in Milwaukee’s south side, officially announced today the details regarding its $42 million expansion plan to be completed by May of 2023.
Founded in 2016 by Gus and Becky Ramirez and their family, Aug Prep, as the school is more commonly known, provides a student-centered environment where scholars in K4 through 12th grade receive an exceptional, uninterrupted educational experience – focused on mind, body and soul.
Originally opened with 560 students, in just four years Aug Prep has grown to serve more than 1,500 predominantly low-income students of color. The expansion will create a dedicated elementary school with capacity for 900 K4 through 5th grade students. The new elementary school building will include state of the art classrooms and special education spaces along with a full-sized gymnasium, a small gym, a rooftop garden and playground, as well as a performing arts center with seating for 800. In addition, Aug Prep will expand its current space by 11,000 square feet to include additional STEM, music, athletics and arts spaces for middle and high school students resulting in a total capacity to serve 2,400 students, which would be the largest single campus school in Milwaukee.
“Our teachers, staff and supporters are driven to help our scholars achieve their highest potential and be of service to our community and the world,” said Abby Andrietsch, chief executive officer of Aug Prep. “Central to our work is providing a learning environment that supports personalized instruction for every student. Our facilities are deliberately designed with that in mind, fostering rigorous academics while supporting students’ faith, arts and athletic endeavors. Notably, our new theater will be a special place for both the school and community to enjoy performances, host events and house school worship services.”
Land remediation is expected to begin this summer just north of the current school on West Harrison Avenue between 6th and 4th Streets, with construction expected to begin in Spring 2022. The new school and expansion are anticipated to be completed by May 2023. VJS is serving as the contractor with Korb + Associates as architects. Both were involved in the development of the first school building. VJS has facilitated the purchase of 33 properties necessary to control the entire block north of the current school.
Developing Tomorrow’s Leaders
This academic year Aug Prep graduated 77 students in its first senior class. Of the inaugural class, 100 percent were accepted and more than 90 percent plan to attend a 2- or 4-year college or university. More than 50 percent were accepted to Marquette University. These seniors grew their ACT scores by an average of 5.6 points by their junior year, a rate of growth which is twice the national average. To date, nearly $7 million in scholarships have been awarded to the initial graduates, with 21 students receiving scholarships from All in Milwaukee, which provides comprehensive support to help students complete college and advance into careers without incurring substantial debt.
“After working for more than 25 years to materially transform education in Milwaukee, our family decided to be bold and build a school that met our vision for what all kids deserve,” said Gus Ramirez, founder and board chair of Aug Prep. “While our expectations have always been high, we are very pleased with the pace of growth at Aug Prep and remain on track to have the capacity to serve 2,400 students by 2025 and support their educational achievements defined by competence, faith, values, integrity and perseverance.”
As measured by the State of Wisconsin and other metrics, Aug Prep scholars’ academic performance exceeds expectations. Students are accepted on a first come, first serve basis with approximately 10 percent participating in Aug Prep’s special education program. Over 95 percent of students come from minority populations with 87 percent qualifying for the free or reduced price lunch program.
Be the Bold
Aug Prep participates in Private School Choice Programs from which it receives approximately three quarters of its student funding. The balance of the funding – approximately $2,500 per student – is raised through community fundraising and long-standing supporters of Aug Prep, including the Ramirez Family Foundation.
“The ‘Be the Bold’ fundraising campaign is an invitation to our supporters throughout the United States and the broader Milwaukee community to join in our vision to provide an excellent education to 900 additional students,” said Ramirez. “Through the work of the Ramirez Family Foundation, everything we do is grounded in our belief in every child’s potential, regardless of their race or socioeconomic status. However, for us to achieve our bold ambitions for Aug Prep requires the shared commitment and investment of others. Every dollar raised through the Be the Bold campaign will support our expansion and goal to have the capacity to educate 2,400 students a year by 2025.”
Approximately 20 percent of the funds needed for the expansion will be provided by the community, similar to the initial building. This includes an anticipated $5 million from the New Market Tax Credit federal program to incent private investment in disadvantaged communities.
To learn more about Be the Bold and Aug Prep, visit augprep.org.
- Click here to read an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about the property acquisition.
- Click here to read an article in BizTimes about Aug Prep becoming the largest single campus school in Milwaukee.