Marquette University alumnus and NBA Hall of Famer Dwyane Wade has committed to a $3 million gift to extend the Tragil Wade-Johnson Summer Reading Program and establish the Wade Scholars as well as support a new men’s basketball practice facility in a future expansion of the Athletic and Human Performance Research Center.
“Marquette shaped me into the person I am today,” said Wade, a three-time NBA champion, Olympic gold medalist, and entrepreneur. “It means a great deal to me and my family to be able to give back to take the university to the next level. My hope is to continue to transform lives through higher education.”
Wade, who in 2003 led Marquette to the Final Four, is committing a portion of his gift to a future project to expand the university’s Athletic and Human Performance Research Center, which will include a new practice facility for the men’s basketball program.
Wade Scholars will benefit low-income, high-achieving students. Funds to establish the program will support two students per year with full room and board scholarships for their first two years on campus.
The Tragil Wade-Johnson Summer Reading Program, named after Wade’s sister, has extensively reduced the “summer slide” in reading achievement among Milwaukee school children since 2015. The program launched with funds from the Wade’s World Foundation and continues with monies from fundraising.
“Literacy is a core focus area in our efforts to improve lives,” said Wade-Johnson. “We believe that every kid deserves a chance, and we are proud that year after year, every participant either maintains or increases their reading level.”
Hartman Center Director Dr. Kathleen Clark, who has led the program since its inception, said children participate in phonological awareness and structured literacy instruction that targets their reading needs. They participate in an additional hour of instruction in which literacy is integrated with another area, most often hands-on, inquiry science. Teachers instruct children in small groups, so children receive more one-on-one attention than is possible in a typical classroom setting.
“We are so thankful for this gift, which will ensure that Milwaukee children will continue to strengthen their literacy skills, grow in knowledge and confidence, and get off to a good start with learning in the fall,” said Clark, who is also an associate professor at Marquette.