High schoolers gain professional and college readiness skills

Although wrapping up in the coming days, the Pre-College program at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) will impact the city’s creative landscape for years to come. For the second consecutive year, MIAD hosted 250 high schoolers from all over the city, state and country to explore on-campus classes in everything from animation to product design to fashion upcycling.

With the aim to develop high school artists’ creative skills, the Pre-College program prepares its participants for art and design college through intensive classes, portfolio reviews with admissions counselors and additional learning opportunities crafted to pique students’ interest. The summer program, offered at two levels (Core and Advanced), runs through the end of July.

Unique to MIAD’s Youth + Community Programs is its Design Internship. After applying, high school students are selected for the free, year-long program and are placed in a paid summer internship at one of eight local design or architecture firms. They also have tuition-free access to MIAD’s Summer and Weekend Pre-College programs. Of the 97 applicants in 2023, 44 interns were selected for the program and received support from the generous funders of the Design Internship, who include the Otto Bremer Trust, Bader Philanthropies and the National Endowment for the Arts. The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee, Design Internship’s community partner, also bolsters the program to expand opportunities for local youth.

Aveon, a Design Internship student who also took Illustration and Graphic Design classes during the 2023 Pre-College program, saw himself progress artistically during the two-week classes. “It is a wonderful time to express yourself creatively,” he says. “Both [the Pre-College and Design Internship] programs were beneficial. My artwork has taken such a jump in evolution … It gave me such a boost of confidence in myself and I gave it everything I could!” MIAD’s Pre-College program is fortunate to receive support from additional sponsors, including the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, Stephens Family Foundation, Associated Bank and the Baird Foundation.

The Pre-College program attracts students from all over the country. Tucker, a student from Colorado who studied Graphic Design and Fashion Upcycling, chose the MIAD Pre-College program because he recently developed an interest in fashion. “Seeing a whole 2-week [program] that was focused on that, I thought I could get more in-depth with it … it seemed like a cool spot to be,” he says. Funding for Pre-College and Design Internship supported more than 180 participants in 2023, including 44 Design Interns.

MIAD’s Youth + Community Programs span Pre-College, Design Internship and Scholarship Portfolio classes, but also include continuing education for art and design educators and classes for high school students during the school year. Additional sponsors for MIAD Youth + Community Programs include the Francie Luke Silverman Foundation, the Gardner Foundation, the Brengel Family Foundation, the Heil Family Foundation, the Harri Hoffmann Family Foundation, the Jane Bradley Pettit Foundation, Donald & Donna Baumgartner and Educators Credit Union. Through the generous support of these donors, Milwaukee’s entire creative community is enriched year after year.