MILWAUKEE — On Friday the United Community Center (UCC) officially opened the Ricardo Diaz Early Learning Academy. The school, located on Becher Street near Muskego Avenue, is a $12 million investment in Milwaukee's youngest learners. The school will soon enroll over 300 children from six weeks to 4 years old.
UCC Executive Director Laura Gutierrez said if parents want "their children to excel academically, socially and emotionally, UCC is the place to bring their child."
The academy is named after the UCC's former director, Ricardo Diaz. Diaz has dedicated his work to ensuring a bright future for the next generation.
"Like UPS, FedEx and Amazon Prime we start pick-ups today. The maternity ward 'be and deliver' college and a career," Diaz said at the ribbon-cutting for the new school.
According to the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, early childhood education benefits include higher high school graduation and college attendance, fewer interactions with the criminal justice system, and increased employment in adulthood.
"For us, it's crucial as a community center that we are continuing to offer opportunities and the best services that any parent would want for their child," said Gutierrez.
However, only one in three children in Milwaukee lives in a community with equitable access to early childhood education. Latino and Black families are disproportionately impacted.
So, the placement of the new early learning academy was very intentional. Gutierrez said, "it's very important to have the center here in the 53215 ZIP Code. We have found that this is a need in this particular ZIP Code and throughout the community."
The 53215 ZIP Code is over 70% Hispanic/Latino. The UCC expects the student body of the new school will be over 80% Hispanic/Latino.
The center itself has bright classrooms with plenty of space to learn while playing, community support for entire families, plus space for a medical and dental clinic.