An aerial view of the Carthage College campus
All Stories

A collaboration between the City of Kenosha and local partners in youth development, education, technology, career development, and workforce preparation will offer opportunities for local youth, ultimately creating a pipeline of local talent to area colleges and future employers.

As one part of a plan to develop and revitalize the city’s older neighborhoods, the City of Kenosha is developing the Kenosha Emerging Leaders Academy (KELA) in partnership with Carthage College, the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, Herzing University, Gateway Technical College, Jockey International, Best Buy, the Kenosha YMCA, the Students Engagement thru Groups and Activities (S.E.G.A.) program, gener8tor, and the Mahone Fund.

KELA, which is set to open later this year in the former Brown Bank building, located at 23rd Avenue and 63rd Street in the Uptown neighborhood, aims to provide students and young adults with the skills and resources to pursue college and/or career paths.

The KELA building is located within a few blocks from the proposed Kenosha Innovation Neighborhood (KIN), a live, work, and play neighborhood focused on innovation, education, training, learning, and work opportunities. According to Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian, KIN represents the future economy of the Kenosha community, and it will change the region’s economic trajectory and offer inclusive, diverse, innovation-based opportunities to position Kenosha competitively as a destination for technology and entrepreneurial development.

“The formation of KELA and its ‘Steps to Success’ programming is so needed and critical for the young people in Kenosha, especially for our low-income and young people of color who live in neighborhoods surrounding Uptown and the Kenosha Innovation Neighborhood,” said Mayor Antaramian. “This unique collaboration will provide them access to career development, higher education, training, and exposure to various careers from building trades and entrepreneurship to business and technology careers.”

On-site staff from the four higher education partners will allow students to develop early relationships with local colleges and universities. They’ll have access to pre-college advising, financial aid counseling, financial literacy assistance, training and classes — including GED/HSED programming, access to college credit programs and admissions advising.

“The need for an accessible college education for local residents has long been recognized by Kenosha’s leaders,” says President John Swallow. “Mary Bradford requested the founding of the Kenosha Vocational Institute, now Gateway Technical College, in 1912; Snap-On executives led the way in the 1950s, persuading Carthage College to move to Kenosha in 1962; and George Molinaro spearheaded the establishment of UW-Parkside in 1965, building on an earlier UW presence. These higher education institutions, together with Herzing University, honor that legacy today by fully participating in this new initiative of the City, helping all children see post-secondary education as part of their future.”

Renovations to the bank building are scheduled to begin in a few months, and KELA is expected to open its doors to students in winter or early spring 2023.