Phoenix Investors: Donates $50,000 to Pathfinders Milwaukee, Inc.

Anthony Crivello, (414) 982-4810, [email protected]

MILWAUKEE — Phoenix Investors (“Phoenix”), a national private commercial real estate firm headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, announced a contribution totaling $50,000 was made to Pathfinders Milwaukee, Inc. (“Pathfinders”), a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing safety, hope, and healing to youth in crisis in the Greater Milwaukee area.

“We’ve been a long-time supporter of Pathfinders and believe their mission is noble,” said Frank Crivello, Founder & Chairman in an official statement. “Our youth face so many challenges in today’s world; it’s a comfort to know that organization like Pathfinders not only exist but make a real impact and create true havens within our community. We are honored support Pathfinders and the youth and families they touch.” 

Pathfinders serves over 5,000 of Milwaukee’s youth per year directly, with nearly 1,000 receiving more intensive care services, like case management, counseling, housing, shelter, sexual exploitation and trafficking advocacy, and educational and basic needs support; the organization has been in operation since 1970.

“Mr. Crivello’s gift helps makes Pathfinders’ mission to empower youth and change lives possible,” said Renee Kirnberger, Senior Vice President of Development & Communications at Pathfinders. “As our young people tell us, ‘Housing is the key to everything, really.’ Our donors, like Mr. Crivello and Phoenix Investors, help ensure these young people can access the resources they need to achieve safety, stability, and success.”  

Reflecting the genre’s growth, University of Wisconsin-Stout is going mainstream with
animation as well.
The university has changed the name of its entertainment design undergraduate program to
animation and digital media and strengthened the program’s focus on animation. Enrollment
is open for fall 2021.
Animation had been a concentration within the entertainment design program, one of six
Bachelor of Fine Arts programs in the School of Art and Design.
“As a result of adding resources, faculty and courses, we have been able to grow this
concentration into a major,” said Program Director Kim Loken, an assistant professor. “We
envision a program that will grow in surprising and delightful ways.”
The change coincides with new rankings by an industry leader, Animation Career Review,
again listing UW-Stout as the state and a national leader in animation higher education.
Students learn two-dimensional, three-dimensional, character and motion-capture
techniques in the program. The goal is to teach them how to create imaginative characters and
visuals to tell original stories that move an audience emotionally and intellectually.

In the program:
 Students will have access to the state-of-the-art Vicon motion capture studio, which
opened in 2019.
 New courses include Fundamentals of Animation; and Digital Illustration.
 Two courses have been revised to focus more on collaborative projects and on the tech
art production pipeline.
 Typography in Motion, a graphic design and interactive media program course, now
also supports animation students studying motion graphics and title design.
Expanding industry
The animation industry had been growing robustly before 2020 then surged during the
pandemic, with creators able to work virtually while production of traditional films with live
acting stalled for safety concerns.
Demand for films and shows with animation has grown 20% globally, according to the
Guardian, with more people at home and increased demand in streaming products, such as on
Netflix and Amazon Prime.
Netflix’ projected spending on original animated content in 2022 is $5 billion, up from $1.1
billion in 2018.
Graduates from UW-Stout’s program will have career opportunities beyond the juggernaut
entertainment industry. Loken sees digital media “rapidly expanding and changing because of
emerging technology like virtual reality and augmented reality.
“Personally, I think we’re going to see a surge in technology related to scent integration.
Traditional animation is a time-based visual and aural medium; digital media can address a
range of immersive, sensory experiences.”
Animation skills also apply to “time-based infographics to support journalism, visualizations
for medical procedures or unbuilt construction projects. The degree name clearly
communicates that richness to current and prospective students, their parents and
employers,” Loken said.
Nationally ranked program
The 2021 rankings from Animation Career Review, of San Francisco, list UW-Stout’s
animation program No. 1 in Wisconsin, in fact the only public or private school listed.
Among public universities, UW-Stout is No. 8 in the Midwest and No. 39 in the U.S. The
program has been ranked among the best in the U.S. for several years.
“We are very proud of our rankings, as they show the continued level of quality of our
students, programs and faculty,” said Dave Beck, director of the UW-Stout School of Art and
Design and associate dean of the College of Arts, Communication, Humanities and Social
UW-Stout graduates with animation and related skills have gone on to careers in industry-
leading companies. Grace Pederson, a 2018 entertainment design-animation graduate, is an
animator/illustrator at Ordinary Folk, a motion design company in Vancouver, B.C. Rachel
Rohe is a look artist at Gasket Studios in Minneapolis, working within a team to develop the
visual style for a given work; her passion is lighting design. Pederson and Rohe serve on the
Professional Advisory Committee for the program.

Five alumni work at DreamWorks Animation in Los Angeles. Hue Vang, a 2017 Master of Fine
Arts in design graduate, is a matte painter, with recent work on the films “Trolls 2” and
“Croods 2.” The MFA program offers graduate level animation and concept art courses.
Game design and development-art majors also learn animation. Margaret Clarke Rigotti,
2018 graduate, is a technical director and often troubleshoots movement glitches in character
rigs at DreamWorks. She gave a career presentation to students this past November.
UW-Stout is Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University, with a focus on applied learning,
collaboration with business and industry, and career outcomes.