Department of Workforce Development
Secretary's Office

201 E. Washington Avenue
P.O. Box 7946
Madison, WI 53707-7946
Telephone: (608) 266-3131
Fax: (608) 266-1784
Email: sec@dwd.wisconsin.gov

DWD logo

Scott Walker, Governor
Reginald J. Newson, Secretary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, June 5, 2014
CONTACT: DWD Communications, 608-266-2722
On the Web: http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/dwd/news.htm
On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/WIWorkforce
On Twitter: @WIWorkforce

Assistant Deputy Secretary Anderson Congratulates Graduates of Project SEARCH at the Wal-Mart Distribution Center

Program provides training and education for high school students with disabilities

MENOMONIE –Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Assistant Deputy Secretary Dave Anderson today congratulated the latest graduates of a training and education program for students with disabilities in their last year of high school. Project SEARCH provides students with disabilities with the skills and work experience that will help them become employed after high school.

"Governor Walker recently announced expansion plans for Project SEARCH that will create 20 new sites in Wisconsin over the next 2 years," Assistant Deputy Secretary Dave Anderson said at the graduation ceremony held at the Wal-Mart Distribution Center. "Work experience while still in high school puts young people with disabilities on a path to independence and economic self-sufficiency. Project SEARCH expansion will allow us to do that for even more youth with disabilities in communities throughout Wisconsin."

The cornerstone of Project SEARCH is total immersion into the business environment. Five days a week, Project SEARCH interns report to the Wal-Mart Distribution Center to learn employability skills in a classroom and hands-on job skills. During their time in the program, they participate in multiple internship rotations where they gain real-life work experience and that give them marketable, transferable and competitive skills.

"People with disabilities have much to offer employers which are the nexus of Governor Walker's declaration of 2014 as the Year of A Better Bottom Line," Assistant Deputy Secretary Anderson said. "We encourage all Wisconsin employers to consider hiring qualified job seekers with disabilities."

Today's graduating class has nine students from the school districts of Elk Mound, Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire and Menomonie. DWD's Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) works with these school districts, along with CESA 10, REACH, Inc. and distribution center human resources staff to select Project SEARCH interns. Certified Special Education Instructors from CESA 10 and career coaches from REACH, Inc. assist the interns on the job to insure that they have the supports they need to be successful.

Governor Walker proclaimed 2014 as the Year of A Better Bottom Line to highlight successful operations thanks in part to the contributions of people with disabilities, while urging other employers to consider an often overlooked skilled and capable workforce.

Since 2008, 140 students with disabilities have graduated from Project SEARCH programs throughout Wisconsin. Besides the program at the Wal-Mart Distribution Center in Menomonie, there are Project SEARCH sites in Marshfield, Appleton, Madison, Middleton, Waukesha and Milwaukee.

DVR assists over 17,000 individuals with disabilities and in fiscal year 2013, helped 3,840 consumers achieve their employment goals. These newly employed individuals are projected to earn $66.3 million annually, more than double the taxpayer investment in their services.