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

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Scott Walker, Governor
Reginald J. Newson, Secretary

Friday, May 16, 2014
CONTACT: DWD Communications, 608-266-2722
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Lt. Governor Kleefisch, Assistant Deputy Secretary Anderson Congratulate Graduates of Project SEARCH at Ministry St. Joseph's Hospital

Program provides training and education for high school students with disabilities

MARSHFIELD – Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and 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.

Since 2008, 140 students with disabilities have graduated from Project SEARCH programs throughout Wisconsin. Besides the program at Ministry St. Joseph's Hospital in Marshfield, there are Project SEARCH sites in Menomonie, Appleton, Madison, Middleton, Waukesha and Milwaukee.

"Our administration recognizes the importance of putting young people with disabilities on a path to independence and economic self-sufficiency. That's why Governor Walker recently announced expansion plans for Project SEARCH that will create 20 new sites in Wisconsin over the next 2 years," Lt. Governor Kleefisch said at the graduation ceremony held at Ministry St. Joseph's Hospital. "All of us from Marshfield to Madison are excited to congratulate these graduates and wish them the best of luck for a bright future."

The cornerstone of Project SEARCH is total immersion into the business environment. Five days a week, Project SEARCH interns report to Ministry St. Joseph's Hospital to learn employability skills in a classroom and hands-on job skills. During their time in the program, they participate in 10-week 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 and are at the center 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."

Recognizing the many partners who make Project SEARCH possible, Assistant Deputy Secretary Anderson continued, "St. Joseph's Hospital, Marshfield School District, the Opportunity Development Center and DWD's Division of Vocational Rehabilitation have all shown remarkable dedication to the success of these students."

DVR staff, teachers and hospital human resources staff participate in screening and selection process for Project SEARCH interns. Certified Special Education Instructors from the school and career coaches from the Opportunity Development Center 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.

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.

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