Rufus King High School
Brad Schlaikowski is the founder and executive director of Courage MKE, which was founded in August 2015. He shares, "Our mission is to raise funds and awareness for LGBTQ youth in Milwaukee, ensuring they have the skills, tools, and resources needed to grow into successful leaders throughout the community." Courage MKE provides a home, help, and love to these homeless youth. The program was founded in 2015 by Schlaikowski and his husband, Nick Schlaikowski, after they fostered teens and learned of their struggles.
Brad attended Kilmer South High School in 1998 and graduated from Rufus King High School. While at Rufus King, Brad was the mascot and LOVED it! He has fond memories of travelling to Madison and watching the Rufus King Generals basketball team win the state title.
In 2019, Brad and Nick opened Wisconsin’s first home for displaced LGBTQ+ youth. Courage MKE is a collaborative movement to provide housing, resources, and services needed for displaced and homeless LGBTQ+ youth in Milwaukee. https://www.couragemke.org/ The Courage House is a licensed group home on Milwaukee’s south side. Our staff and volunteers are committed to creating an environment in which each resident feels like they are family. For more info on the Courage House, Courage MKE and UWM article on Courage MKE
Which teacher, coach or adult left the largest impact on your life?
Lee Carone, the high school librarian impacted Brad the most. “She pushed me - to be me - authentically. She held me accountable academically, and even more so personally. I will always be grateful for and never forget her!”
If I could give advice to our current students, my advice would be simple – “SLOW DOWN! Cherish the time you have in high school. You have your entire life to worry about everything else. Embrace being young, and make every day count by trying new things. Most importantly, never forget who you are. It doesn’t matter what anyone says in high school. I PROMISE, IT WILL GET BETTER!”
Brad’s parents did not ask him to attend his neighborhood school. “I appreciated that more than ever because they wanted me to be part of the greater community and embrace the diversity the city/district offers us.” Like my parents, MPS did the same for me. “I left MPS knowing about other cultures, beliefs and people and that is something worth more than any book could have taught me.”
Brad and his husband Nick live in Wauwatosa and have been married for eight years. They have five children and enjoy going to camp whenever possible. For now, their life revolves around family, but eventually, their goal is to retire in Costa Rica!
As for future goals, Brad looks forward to expanding Courage MKE across the state to support more children in need. In the next two years, we hope to open an independent living facility for those aging out of the system.
Brad’s positivity, generosity and dedication reaffirms that he and his husband Nick are truly, “Heroes Among Us."
Schlaikowski was recently honored with a Milwaukee Magazine 2022 Unity Award for his vision and service to others.
Read about Schlaikowski's Unity Award.
Read more about Schlaikowski and Courage MKE.
Join us in celebrating alumni Heroes Among Us during these challenging times in our lives. Would you like to share a story of a Heroes Among Us? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Join us in celebrating alumni Heroes Among Us during these challenging times in our lives. Would you like to share a story of a Hero Among Us? Contact email@example.com.