The foundation that catalyzed St. Augustine Preparatory Academy on Milwaukee’s South Side announced Wednesday that it has acquired the 43-acre North Shore campus of the shuttered Cardinal Stritch University for $24 million.
Although specific plans for the campus will be developed over time, the Ramirez Family Foundation said the Cardinal Stritch facilities – 12 buildings with a total of 607,000 square feet of space – lend themselves to educational ministries, which are the primary focus of the foundation. The campus spans 43.5 acres in Glendale and Fox Point just east of I-43.
“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to acquire a unique property that will, in time, provide the Ramirez Family Foundation with a platform to make an even larger impact,” Gus Ramirez and Becky Ramirez, co-chairs of the Ramirez Family Foundation, said in a statement. “When the Cardinal Stritch campus first became available, we moved quickly to reach a purchase agreement. While we have a broad vision to expand access to a high-quality, Christian education for underserved students in Milwaukee, our specific plans for the campus will be determined after careful consideration, analysis and input from educational leaders at (St. Augustine Preparatory Academy).”
The campus’s location, spacious facilities and rich educational and spiritual heritage closely align with the vision and mission of the Ramirez Family Foundation, according to the statement.
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The Ramirez family founded St. Augustine Prep, which opened in 2017. Recently, the foundation, along with hundreds of additional donors, funded a $49 million expansion that will increase the school’s capacity from 1,500 to 2,400 students. It will make St. Augustine Prep the largest single-campus school in Milwaukee.
Cardinal Stritch announced earlier this year that it was discontinuing operations after 86 years and putting its campus property up for sale. The institution, which had an enrollment of 1,200 in 2022-23 after years of declines, held its final commencement ceremony in May. The transaction was approved by the Cardinal Stritch University Board of Trustees and, ultimately, the Vatican.
“The Ramirez Family Foundation is built on the premise that a high-quality education is life-changing, which is why we have dedicated our family’s time, efforts and resources to elevating educational opportunities and access for disadvantaged students globally,” Gus and Becky Ramirez said. “We are excited about the possibilities that this transaction opens up for us to continue the campus’s spiritual and educational history and help students reach their God-given potential.”
Augustin “Gus” Ramirez took over Husco International, a Waukesha-based manufacturer of hydraulic controls and components, in 1985 and built it into a $400 million private company. He served as its CEO before handing that role over to his son, Austin, in 2011. The Ramirez Family Foundation supports schools and students in the United States and around the world, particularly in Central and South America and more recently in Puerto Rico. The foundation has supported more than 200 schools affecting more than 300,000 impoverished students.