Lutheran Urban Mission Initiative, Inc. (LUMIN) was founded in 2002 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation and a Recognized Service Organization of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS) by a group of LCMS business people and professional educators deeply concerned about the downward trend of Lutheran education in Milwaukee’s urban community. Several schools had closed in prior years and others were struggling to remain open. LUMIN’s organizers determined to reverse that trend by developing a network of high performing schools focused on academic excellence, leadership development and spiritual growth; and supported by human care and social services designed to address the numerous “barriers to learning” confronted by urban students.
Between 2005 and 2009, LUMIN rescued four failing LCMS elementary schools in Milwaukee; Granville Lutheran School (formerly Concordia University School/Nazareth Lutheran School), Northwest Lutheran School, Sherman Park Lutheran School and Preschool, and St. Martini Lutheran School. LUMIN financially stabilized all the schools, increased enrollments, dealt with staffing issues, addressed deferred maintenance and other facilities needs, upgraded all curricula, invested in staff training and improved the academic performance of the schools.
In 2012, LUMIN renovated the former Pilgrim Lutheran School which closed in 2008 due to declining enrollment. The school reopened in August of 2012 as Concordia University School – Pilgrim Campus.
LUMIN entered the Racine market in 2014 with the addition of Renaissance School, a privately owned school participating in the Racine Parental Choice Program. Renaissance operates two campuses; one in Mount Pleasant that serves early childhood students, and one in Kenosha that serves middle school students.
In 2015, the two campuses of Concordia University School were established as separate schools. The names of the schools were changed to Granville Lutheran School and Pilgrim Lutheran school to recognize the separate identities. Further, LUMIN's six schools united under one brand, LUMIN Schools, to offer public evidence that LUMIN represents a vibrant and unified network of schools.
All LUMIN Schools are elementary schools serving 4K through 8th grade students. Total enrollment in the six schools is nearly 1,600 students. Virtually all of them participate in the Milwaukee and Racine Parental Choice Programs, two of Wisconsin's state-funded voucher programs that support school choice for low income families living in those communities.
LUMIN enjoys valuable partnerships with Concordia University Wisconsin and other area universities that provide education, nursing and social work students who support LUMIN schools while gaining invaluable experience in urban classrooms. Many CUW graduates accept divine calls to serve LUMIN schools in permanent teaching positions. The Lutheran High School Association of Greater Milwaukee is another valued partner of LUMIN as are Schools That Can Milwaukee, Partners Advancing Values in Education and several other organizations that focus on urban education.
LUMIN is privileged to enjoy financial partnerships with the Theodore W. Batterman Family Foundation, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Lutheran Church Extension Fund, the Robert W. and Josephine Pieper Foundation, the Siebert Lutheran Foundation, the Thrivent Financial for Lutherans Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation; as well as with numerous churches, organizations and individuals. This support supplements voucher funding and is critical to advancing LUMIN’s mission and strategic goals.
LUMIN maintains a central administrative team that manages all business and academic affairs of the schools and provides them with a host of student and family support services. Approximately 180 employees serve in LUMIN’s ministry which is governed by an independent board of directors.