Grants established to celebrate Purcell’s legacy and commitment to education

MILWAUKEE, May 20, 2021 Baird announced at its 2021 Annual Meeting today that seven nonprofits located in Milwaukee, the greater Chicago area, Nashville, and Louisville were the inaugural recipients of the Paul Purcell “Kids Win!” Annual Baird Education Grants totaling $700,000.  Funded by Baird, Baird Foundation and Baird associates, the international, employee-owned financial services firm established the “Kids Win!” Education Grants in honor of its former Chairman, President & CEO Paul Purcell, who had a passion for ensuring all had access to a quality education and who passed away in February 2020. Purcell served on the boards of many educational organizations striving to provide quality education to all children. To ensure the organizations he served and guided were focused on that end he often asked, “Do the kids win?”  It served as his simple, yet very clear guiding principle.

“Paul gave of himself tirelessly to so many educational causes and firmly believed we have an obligation to ensure everyone, regardless of where they live or their circumstances, has access to a quality education,” said Steve Booth, Baird Chairman, President & CEO. “To celebrate Paul’s legacy, we established the Paul Purcell “Kids Win!” Annual Baird Education Grants.  We are honored to help support the important efforts of these exceptional organizations, which also benefit from our associates’ volunteer involvement, as our inaugural grant recipients.”

Inaugural Paul Purcell “Kids Win!” Baird Educational Grant Recipients

  • Cristo Rey Jesuit High School Milwaukee is a Catholic high school for young women and men of all faiths and limited financial means that integrates rigorous academics, professional work experiences and spiritual development to empower graduates to succeed in college and life. This grant will support development of a transformational, hands-on learning Innovation Center that will include a design lab, 3D printing and fabrication space, robotics (coding/circuitry) space and a media/podcasting production area. The center will help reduce educational inequalities with resources, tools, and inspiration, significantly enhance hundreds of urban students’ 21st century skill development and support a more skilled, inclusive, and diverse workforce for Milwaukee.
  • Serving children and youth in the Nashville area, Martha O’Bryan Center is a community organization that empowers individuals in poverty to transform their lives through work, education, employment, and fellowship. Grant funds will support the Center’s Post-Secondary Pipeline program, which provides low-income, first-generation college students with persistence coaching and support services in preparation of and throughout their post-secondary careers. This ensures students have successful transitions, retention, and degree attainment. The program has divergent pathways based on students’ post-secondary and career aspirations and is flexible, easily allowing students to seamlessly transition from the college readiness program (Post Secondary Success) and employment support (Youth Employment Hub).
  • Cristo Rey St. Martin College Prep, a Catholic high school in Waukegan, Illinois, empowers young people of limited economic means to become men and women of faith, purpose, and service. Through a rigorous college preparatory curriculum, integrated with relevant work study experience, Cristo Rey St. Martin students graduate ready to succeed in college and life. Grant funds will support an entrepreneurial endeavor, La Mesita de Martin, which is an extension of their Corporate Work Study Program. La Mesita de Martín will be an in-school coffee and snack shop, where students will learn the skills required to run a small, private enterprise including budgeting, inventory management, receipt reconciliation, customer relationships, marketing and sales.
  • The mission of Teach For America - Greater Chicago-Northwest Indiana is to find, develop, and support a diverse network of teachers who expand opportunity for children from classrooms, schools, and every sector and field that shapes the broader systems in which schools operate. Baird’s support of Teach For America will fund programs to raise up the next generation of educators and therefore increase opportunities for youth living in low-income neighborhoods in Chicago-Northwest Indiana. This supports youths’ goals of graduating from high school and college, obtaining a career where they can financially thrive, and realizing the hopes and dreams they have for themselves and their communities.
  • Golden Apple Foundation for Excellence in Teaching, an organization focused on teacher development and recognition, has a vision in which every classroom has a great educator. To realize this, Golden Apple is committed to making a material difference in resolving the teacher shortage in Chicago and throughout the state of Illinois in schools-of-need. This grant will support the Golden Apple Scholars program, which develops and supports largely diverse, first-generation aspiring educators. This multi-year program recruits aspiring educators in Illinois, supports them throughout undergraduate study, prepares them with intensive in-residence training each summer, helps them find a right-fit placement in a school-of-need and mentors them throughout their first years in the classroom to become highly effective teachers who stay.
  • The mission of Nativity Academy at St. Boniface, a school in Louisville, Kentucky serving students in grades 6-8 and also offering programs that prepare motivated students all the way through high school and college, is to transform the lives of students who have a commitment to achieve and whose families demonstrate financial need. Funds from the grant will support the expansion of Nativity Academy’s College Cares Program, providing first-generation college students of color with tools and assistance to ensure success. This includes financial assistance, emergency fund assistance, mentoring, coaching, and general connectiveness and support.
  • Teach For America - Milwaukee finds, develops, and supports a diverse network of leaders who expand opportunity for children from classrooms, schools, and every sector and field that shapes the broader systems in which schools operate. The organization remains guided by the priority to recruit and support outstanding and diverse teachers and cultivate long-term alumni impact in Milwaukee. Through this grant, TFA Milwaukee will be able to recruit, select, train, and support up to 10 corps educators for the 2021-2022 school year, thereby building out talent pipelines for the City of Milwaukee and ensuring that over 500 Milwaukee Kids Win!

A Passion for Quality Education for All

Purcell always said he had the best job in the world at Baird, but he also admitted that if he had to choose another line of work it would have been as a teacher. “I think the highest form of giving in the world today is teaching. I have incredible admiration for great teachers who have a profound impact on people’s lives,” he noted in one media interview.

Purcell’s deep admiration for educators and dedication to high-quality education for all meant he had life-changing impact on thousands of students in Milwaukee, Chicago and beyond.

“We all stand on Paul’s shoulders. He was a giant force for improving the opportunities of underserved, low-income students,” said Timothy Sheehy, President of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce. “Thousands of students benefited from his tenacious push to improve how education is delivered, both here in Milwaukee and beyond. Paul’s relentless focus and his north star guiding his educational volunteer work was his commitment to doing what it takes to ensure ‘kids win!’”

Purcell was deeply involved with Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, a network of 35 Catholic schools that provide a college preparatory education and access to a corporate work study program to young people who live in urban communities with limited educational options. He was a founding member of the Cristo Rey Board of Directors from 1996 through 2007 and served as Chairman of the Board. He also served as co-chair of the board of Teach for America - Milwaukee and chaired the University of Notre Dame Mendoza School of Business Advisory Council. He served on the Alverno College Board of Trustees, the Junior Achievement of Chicago Board of Directors and the board of Year Up Chicago. He has also served on the boards of the Greater Milwaukee Committee. United Way of Greater Milwaukee, the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, United Performing Arts Fund and Discovery World.

When asked about his passion for educational causes, Purcell once said, “The American way of life, or the American dream, is conditioned on people being reasonably well-educated. If we don’t offer that to everybody—everybody—then fundamentally, we’re not fulfilling who we are and what we say we are.”    

About Kids Win! Baird Educational Grants

The Paul Purcell “Kids Win!” Annual Baird Education Grant was established in 2020 as a meaningful and lasting tribute to former Baird Chairman Paul E. Purcell.

Baird associates are invited each year to nominate 501(c)(3) educational organizations in which they play a volunteer leadership role and which meet specific criteria as possible recipients of the Paul Purcell “Kids Win!” Annual Baird Education Grant:

  • A Baird Associate who has direct insight into the educational organization’s impact, ideally from serving in a leadership or governance capacity, must sponsor and be engaged in the grant application submission.
  • Educational organizations must have 501(c)(3) Public Charity tax status and serve students in the United States, with a focus on markets where Baird associates live and work.
  • Priority will be given to organizations or programs that serve diverse populations of students and/or first-generation students or those with limited financial means.

The Paul Purcell “Kids Win!” Annual Baird Education Grant is funded by Baird, Baird Foundation and Baird associates. With continued successful fundraising, the number and total dollar amount of the annual grants should grow.  Contributions from those outside of Baird who may want to honor Paul’s legacy are not being accepted at this time but may be considered in the future. 

Baird’s commitment to the community

Baird has a long tradition of giving back to the community and the dedication to making a positive contribution is integral to the firm’s culture and The Baird Way. Baird Foundation supports nonprofit organizations aligned with its focus on health and human services, education, the arts, and diversity, which share Baird’s strong commitment to equality and opportunity for all. In 2020, the Foundation contributed more than $5.2 million to nonprofit organizations. Through the Baird Cares program, associates receive two paid days off each year to volunteer for the charity of their choice. Associates also organize an annual Baird Gives Back event  during which associates, family members and friends volunteer in more than 100 Baird locations worldwide.

About Baird

Putting clients first since 1919, Baird is an employee-owned, international wealth management, asset management, investment banking/capital markets, and private equity firm with offices in the United States, Europe and Asia. Baird has approximately 4,600 associates serving the needs of individual, corporate, institutional and municipal clients and more than $355 billion in client assets as of December 31, 2020. Committed to being a great workplace, Baird ranked No. 32 on the 2021 Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For® list. Baird is the marketing name of Baird Financial Group. Baird’s principal operating subsidiaries are Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated in the United States and Robert W. Baird Group Ltd. in Europe. Baird also has an operating subsidiary in Asia supporting Baird’s investment banking and private equity operations. For more information, please visit Baird’s website at

For additional information, contact:
Marianne Foster, Baird Public Relations
(414) 298-1906