– Join us at our –

2nd Annual Gala

OCTOBER 21, 2023

Saint Kate – The Arts Hotel
6:00–11:00 pm

In 2023, we’re super excited to have the amazing Shannon Sims hosting ULC’s Hollywood Glam Gala as well as 4 annual award winners who are A-listers in the educational field.

Our goal for this event is to raise $50,000! This impressive amount will enable us to send a future educator through our Wisconsin teacher licensing program, provide leveled ebook classroom libraries, and offer over 100 hours of mentoring and professional learning opportunities.

But you know what? It’s your participation that truly makes this event amazing! So, come on and join us in creating incredible educational opportunities for some very special educators and students across the state of Wisconsin. Let’s make a difference together!

Learn More about Shannon Sims

Shannon Sims co-anchors ‘TMJ4 News at 6 and 10’ every weekday.

Her journey to Milwaukee has not been the road typically taken by most journalists. Before starting her career in broadcasting, Shannon was a classically trained singer, aspiring to be an opera performer. She has a bachelor of arts from the Manhattan School of Music.

After studying abroad in Italy she landed in Bloomington, IN. It was there she began her broadcast career as a radio announcer for 92.3 WTTS. The California native returned to the Bay Area to pursue a new career in radio and TV. In San Francisco, at KGO 7, Shannon interned and was quickly hired as a production assistant. She got her first job in front of the camera at KREM 2 Spokane, WA as a general assignment reporter.

During her time in the Northwest, she covered snow, snow and more snow. But it was her exclusive and breaking developments in the disappearance of Shasta and Dylan Groene, and later the capture of sex offender and kidnapper Joseph Duncan, that helped her grow as a journalist.

During every stop, Shannon has been involved in the community. One of her biggest achievements was raising money to outfit the entire 6th, 7th, and 8th-grade classes at the Dayton Boys Academy with brand-new ties. Not only did she fund the uniform project, but she was able to bring a group of professional men into the school to spend time with each child and develop a bond that would last a lifetime.

While in Dayton Shannon was also very active as a member of the Dayton chapter of NABJ (National Association of Black Journalists). Shannon enjoys working in the Milwaukee community and learning more about the Brew City and beyond.

While not on the job, Shannon enjoys road-tripping to explore new places, antique shopping, watching foreign movies, salsa dancing, opera and jazz.


Keith Carrington

Legacy Award

The Legacy Award celebrates excellence by those recognized for their achievements.

Learn More

Keith Allen Carrington was born on April 10, 1974, in Dallas, Texas. Keith’s formal education began in the Dallas Public School system prior to moving to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In Milwaukee, Keith attended

Benjamin Franklin Elementary School and VCY Middle School. He attended Heritage Christian High School where he was a talented basketball player. Keith earned his BA in Africology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He received a MA in Administrative Leadership from Alverno College and attended Cardinal Stritch University as a doctoral student.

Keith was a deacon at Lighthouse Gospel Chapel serving under the leadership of his father, James H.
Carrington Sr. He often volunteered and ministered to men at the Milwaukee Rescue Mission and the Guest House.

Keith met the love of his life Tanzanique in 1994, and the two were married on July 26, 1997. They were blessed to become parents of their daughter, Cairee.

Keith began his 25-year career with Milwaukee Public Schools in 1997 as a paraprofessional. He would later become a teacher, an assistant principal, and a principal. Prior to becoming an administrator, he spent summers instructing and mentoring students at Marquette University through its National Youth Sports Program (NYSP). His greatest joy was becoming the principal of North Division High School in 2016.

Keith was determined to change the narrative about the school. His motto was, “don’t go by what you heard about North Division, go by what you see.” He was committed to providing quality education to the students in the impoverished 53206 zip code. As if working as a principal wasn’t enough, Keith also served as a lead security supervisor at the Fiserv Forum with the Milwaukee Bucks.

In his leisure, Keith enjoyed traveling, watching wrestling and basketball, and great food. Keith was the ultimate sneakerhead, collecting hundreds of pairs of shoes. He was a diehard Dallas Cowboys fan who never gave up on his team.

Keith was a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. where he served as the chair of Kappa League, the fraternity’s mentoring arm for young men. He was also a board member of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Black School Educators (MMABSE), and a board member of the Administrators and Supervisors Council (ASC).

Keith Allen Carrington unexpectedly departed this life on August 22, 2022. He is truly missed by his family, friends, colleagues, and students.

Bette Anette Davis

MESA Staff Member of the Year

Recognizes exemplary MESA staff member who best represents all the core values of Milwaukee Environmental Science Academy

Tonda Thompson

Trailblazer Award

The Trailblazer Award recognizes change agents who take risks in order to lead the way for others.

Learn More

As the CEO of J.R. Creative Holdings, the parent company for She Slangs Wood Co, Valor Creative Collective and Vogue Dreams Production, Tonda Thompson considers her life’s mission is to encourage others to walk with authority in everything that they do. Being a Runway model in Los Angeles taught Tonda how to accept rejection as a fuel to keep going. Following the tragic death of her first son, Terrell, Tonda spearheaded a career as a serial entrepreneur and community advocate. She took this path to find solutions and preventative methods to reduce Social Determinants of Health that have negative effects to the wellbeing of Black maternal, infant and fetal health within the United States. Tonda is the founder of The National Coalition for Healthy Black Families, Inc (NCHBF) and has created events such as the HaRUNbee 5K, that honors Terrell’s life. Tonda is I a developer, a teacher, a model, sometimes a politician, and a mother who is aiming to find life-changing solutions for the future.

Toni Fink

Distinguished Alumni Award

The Distinguished Alumni Award is Urban Learning Collaborative’s highest honor. It celebrates prestigious completers of the ULC Teacher Certification program for their professional achievements and contributions to the community.

Learn More

I grew up in Milwaukee in a loving family that believed in overcoming obstacles through education and hard work. With their support, I was the first one in my immediate family to attend college, where I majored in Spanish. I am grateful to the MTEC program that allowed me to receive a dual teaching license in elementary and bilingual education, making my dream to be a teacher come true! I have lived in Mexico and Ecuador and traveled extensively throughout Latin America to broaden my understanding of the intricacies of the Spanish language and the different cultures. This is why teaching at Spanish Immersion is a perfect fit for me. I am unapologetically committed to meeting my students’ needs for academic and personal success. I have loved being a part of the Milwaukee Spanish Immersion Community for the last 23 years. My biggest career accomplishments are the lifelong relationships I have created with my students and families. I enjoy cooking, reading, and spending time with family and friends. Cooking is a passion of mine and I enjoy the privilege of cooking for loved ones and friends. I love getting lost in a good book and being in nature. This is what heals my soul and brings me joy!

Facebook: Toni Fink
Instagram:latonita33 Toni Alamo Fink

Dannette J Justus

Rising Star Award

The Rising Star Award recognizes an emerging leader whose record reflects ongoing and exceptional contributions to the profession and increased levels of leadership and responsibility.

Learn More

Dannette has taught elementary grades in Milwaukee Public Schools for the past 31 years and also served as Academic Coach. Her love for books led her to launch her very own YouTube channel, JustUs and Books. Dannette received more than 1,500 views for her reading of “Pete the Cat: I love my White Shoes, I Love Strawberries, and A World Without Our People.”

Ms. Justus goes the extra mile to help bring a “Culture and Love of Reading” to students. Because of Dannette, her inner-city students have traveled to a pizza parlor, MLB baseball diamond, NFL football stadium, and an NBA arena…where she connected her love literacy with landmarks across Milwaukee and Wisconsin!

Dannette is a proud graduate of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and a member of Delta Sigma Theta, Sorority, Inc.

The Read Aloud as reset!

Reading aloud is the foundation for literacy development and the single most important activity for reading success! It provides children with a demonstration of phrased, fluent reading. Kids get excited about what teachers get excited about and learn to love a variety of genres, narratives, and perspectives found in picture books. Read-alouds build background knowledge, develop the listener’s interest in books, and increases their desire to become a reader.

Don’t Miss Out – get your tickets now!
Ticket Includes:
  • Appetizers and a three course dinner 
  • DJ and Dancing
  • Admission to the galleries at Saint Kate
  • Swag bag
  • Live and silent auctions
  • Heads or Tails contest

Last Year We Raised $30,000

Our 2022 ‘Putting on the Ritz’ Gala was amazing. Thanks to everyone who participated and contributed to us exceeding our goal. With our funds, we were able to provide numerous opportunities for urban advancement.

We want to send a big thank you to our 2022 sponsors:

  • Quarles & Brady LLP
  • Ralph Evinrude Foundation, Inc.
  • Northwestern Mutual
  • John J. Peterburs, Ph.D. & Jill M. Miller
  • Cole Family Foundation
  • Life Empowered Consulting Services
  • Pastor W. Aaron Robbins & Dr. Laci Coppins Robbins
  • Vizance Insurance

Our gala is an amazing chance for you to directly contribute to our mission! When you attend, you’ll have the opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals, learn all about our organization’s impactful initiatives, and make a truly meaningful difference in the lives of students and communities striving for educational advancement in urban settings. You don’t want to miss out on this incredible experience!

Our Goal For 2023 is



With $50,000, we can support a future educator through our Wisconsin teacher licensing program, provide leveled ebook classroom libraries, and offer over 100 hours of mentoring and professional learning opportunities. It’s an incredible opportunity to make a lasting impact!

Saint Kate – The Arts Hotel
139 E. Kilbourn Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Get Directions

Urban Learning Collaborative
room block available at Saint Kate.
Call 414-488-0540 for booking.

Art Gallery at the Hotel
At the gala, you’ll have the chance to explore the amazing art galleries at Saint Kate – The Arts Hotel! You’ll discover fascinating site-specific installations, ever-changing special exhibitions, and thoughtfully curated contemporary art collections. It’s going to be such an exciting experience!

Sponsorship Opportunities

We are thrilled to present one of our most highly anticipated and prestigious events of the year! We have an array of event sponsorship opportunities for you to explore. It’s worth noting that this year’s sponsorship levels have undergone exciting changes. Don’t miss out on this amazing chance to get involved!

To learn more about how you can support this amazing event, click the button below. If you have any questions or would like to discuss your sponsorship and reserve your table, contact Angela McCarty directly at 414.375.0168 or amccarty@urban-learning.org

Thank you to our sponsors

Educators Credit Union Summit Credit Union
Ritz Holman CPAs Vizance
John J. Peterburs and Jill M Miller Charitable Fund


urban learning collaborative

Urban Learning Collaborative: A Legacy of Learning

Founded in 1996, the Urban Learning Collaborative, Formerly Milwaukee Teacher Education Center (MTEC), is a not-for-profit, comprehensive, results-oriented, professional development center designed to prepare, support, and retain teachers and school leaders across Wisconsin. We support children and their learning by offering educators certification programs, customized professional development workshops, and elbow-to-elbow instructional coaching that are all focused on increasing learning and closing achievement gaps.

Urban Learning Collaborative’s mission is to invest in urban communities by expanding access to academic, personal, and professional growth opportunities. This event features powerful storytelling and lots of opportunities to make the impossible possible. Educational opportunities are more than singular moments and experiences. They are doorways to a better future.

2022 ULC Gala: Roaring Twenties

Don’t Miss Out on the Fun - Join Us for ULC’s 2023 Gala


Can’t Attend?

You can still take part with a sponsorship or donation.