By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Aug 27, 2020 at 2:01 PM

American Family Insurance and Brewers Community Foundation have announced a joint $200,000 donation to the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) Foundation’s #ConnectMilwaukee initiative that is working to guarantee that all MPS students have the internet access and equipment needed for virtual learning.

MPS early start schools began online classes on Aug. 17 and regular start schools begin on Sept. 1.

The MPS Foundation announced the #connectMilwaukee initiative in June.

As part of a three-phase plan, all MPS students are beginning the school year online. A second phase, based on positive coronavirus trends, will blend online and in-person learning. The third phase will be a full return to school buildings.

The $200,000 gift is the largest corporate donation to the initiative which will now pass its initial goal of raising $1 million.

"American Family has made a commitment to supporting equity in education and promoting economic opportunity for all, and the city of Milwaukee is a particular focus for us," said American Family Enterprise President Bill Westrate.

"The pandemic creates even more challenges for disadvantaged families, including a lack of access to technology as their children begin a new school year with virtual learning as their only option. We’re honored to join MPS and the Brewers to address this need."

Brewers President of Business Operations Rick Schlesinger added, "We are proud to work with American Family to directly impact the children and families of Milwaukee, during a time in which so many have experienced life changes due to COVID-19. As an organization, we are invested in and care about our community and our fans, and are pleased to have partners who share in our passion." said Rick Schlesinger, Brewers president – business operations.

Surpassing the million-dollar mark means the district can provide internet access at home to the thousands of MPS students and families do not have it.

"We cannot thank American Family Insurance and Brewers Community Foundation enough for supporting our students and families during such a critical time," said MPS Foundation Executive Director Wendell Willis.

"This is exactly the type of corporate leadership and action that Milwaukee needs right now – identifying an immediate need and having the conviction to finalize a solution. Their generous donation has allowed us to surpass our original $1million goal ahead of schedule and will ensure that every kid in MPS has internet access for online learning."

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.