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HBCU Grad Returns Home & Opens a Coworking Space ... For the Culture (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)

"Coming from Milwaukee, my HBCU experience was a breath of fresh air. Attending A&T instilled confidence within me to know that anything is possible."

Photo by Sierra Tribble. Homecoming 2012.

A native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Marcell Jackson (NCAT ’12) saw firsthand the power of community service and giving back through the example of his parents.

“My parents always embodied the spirit of connecting and serving others. While growing up, our home was ‘the spot’ for family functions, sleepovers, and even church services. I can tie my love for the community to the example of parents.”

Today, Marcell is a cybersecurity technical project manager, social entrepreneur, educator, and the founder of a coworking space Ambition Center in Milwaukee, WI. Marcell, who launched his coworking space in 2021, estimates that he has reached over 1,600 BIPOC professionals and Black-owned businesses since the opening.

Marcell at the Ambition Center. Photo by Jeff Canady. Grand Opening 2021.

While attending North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (NCAT), Marcell majored in Electrical Engineering and was the Vice President of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) collegiate chapter during his junior year.

Marcell credits his education and experience at North Carolina A&T with his success. He is the first in his immediate family to graduate college. As he shared, “coming from Milwaukee, my HBCU experience was a breath of fresh air. Attending A&T instilled confidence within me to know that anything is possible.”

Marcell and Guests at the Year One Celebration. Photo by X'Avier Petty. 2022.

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have always served as a pillar of education and prominence for the Black community. At Ambition Center MKE, Marcell hopes to tap into the feeling of Black Synergy® in Milwaukee.

In Milwaukee, most shared office and coworking spaces are located downtown, near downtown, or in the suburbs surrounding the city. After coworking at a few spaces but not finding a fit, he wanted to create the space of his own.

Once opened, Ambition Center MKE was the fourth Black-owned coworking space in the city. Located at 530 E. Vienna Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53212, Ambition Center is also the northernmost coworking space in Milwaukee.

In 2022 and beyond, people of all backgrounds are trading corporate offices for coworking spaces. Most of us have probably had a toxic experience working in an office. As a result, the pandemic had many of us working from home or quitting our jobs to start a business.

Since opening, Ambition Center MKE has created one part-time job in the community, provided two high school summer internships, established 8 businesses on the northside of Milwaukee, offered over 40 hours of free coworking to the community, and helped secure $60k in grant funding for Ambition Center members.

See the Full One Year of Impact Report here.

Marcell in the Ambition Center Podcast Lounge. Photo by Rochelle Einsiedel. 2022.

This year, Ambition Center was recognized by the World Champion Milwaukee Bucks & Clover from Fiserv as the Small Business of the Game. Marcell was also honored at the Milwaukee Bucks Inaugural HBCU Night for his volunteerism in raising awareness about HBCUs and careers in STEM (2022).

In the Black community, we need systems to facilitate growth by design (like HBCUs) rather than supporting systems designed to prevent it. As organizations and companies work to make Milwaukee a region of choice and redefine Milwaukee as a top-ranking city for African Americans, we need more Black-owned workspaces in the city. Ambition Center is only the beginning.

Cowork where Culture is Celebrated.

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