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July 17, 2014
CONTACT: Laurel Patrick, (608)267-7303

A Better Bottom Line: Governor Scott Walker Announces Partnerships for Project SEARCH Expansion

Expansion will double the number of partnership sites helping young people with disabilities gain marketable job skills

Green Bay – Governor Walker today, along with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) and Department of Health Services (DHS), announced an expansion of the number of Project SEARCH sites from seven to 14. Under this phase of the expansion, first unveiled in Governor Walker’s Blueprint for Prosperity plan, seven additional community agencies and schools join Project SEARCH to help young adults with disabilities gain employment training, and learn marketable skills, to help them enter the workforce.

“Project SEARCH allows young people to learn real-world job skills, giving them the opportunity to pursue their dreams of freedom and independence,” Governor Walker said. “It also helps employers see what a great asset individuals with disabilities are in the workplace.”

Wisconsin Project SEARCH provides total immersion in a large business, giving young adults with disabilities an opportunity to explore careers and receive training. The students report to the host business, learn employability skills in the classroom, and gain job skills while participating in three or four internships during the year. The ultimate goal is to help the students gain independence and competitive employment. Local Business Advisory Boards are also a key component of Project SEARCH and are partners in efforts to identify potential employers for Project SEARCH graduates.

“We want to congratulate these agencies for being selected as Wisconsin Project SEARCH partners who will help young adults with disabilities gain the training and confidence they need to be part of the workforce,” said DWD Secretary Reggie Newson. "Thanks to Governor Walker's Blueprint for Prosperity Initiative, more Wisconsin businesses will have the opportunity under Project SEARCH to see firsthand how employing persons with disabilities will improve their bottom line, to the advantage of the participating employer and the workers."

DHS Secretary Kitty Rhoades said, “Wisconsin Project SEARCH unites employers with young adults who want to prove that, although they may have a disability, they have plenty of skills and talents to offer in the workforce. What I particularly like is the collaboration among state and long term support agencies, vocational service providers, schools, parents, the students and businesses to ensure the success of each and every student who is enrolled.”

Governor Walker this year signed legislation for a $35.4 expansion to the Wisconsin Fast Forward (WFF) worker training program as part of his Blueprint for Prosperity Initiative. Included is $850,000 to expand the number of Project SEARCH sites in Wisconsin from seven to 27 over three years, starting with today's announced expansion of seven sites. DWD's Office of Skills Development (OSD) is working with DWD's Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) and DHS on the Project SEARCH expansion.

Partnering agencies receive pre-paid training and technical assistance required for all Project SEARCH initiatives. The training is provided by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC). Project SEARCH was developed at CCHMC in 1996 by Nurse J. Erin Riehle, then the director of the Emergency Department there. Project SEARCH is now an internationally recognized model of employment training for young adults with disabilities.

Project SEARCH is part of the Governor’s Year of A Better Bottom Line to encourage and promote employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Project SEARCH expansion partners and locations include:

Agency Type of Agency City
ASPIRO Vocational Provider Green Bay
Sauk Prairie School District Public School District Sauk City
River Falls School District Public School District River Falls
My Innovative Services Vocational Provider Stevens Point
Goodwill Industries of Southeastern WI, Inc. Vocational Provider Milwaukee
Opportunity Development Centers, Inc. Vocational Provider Wisconsin Rapids
Cooperative Educational Service Agency 5 Public School Agency Portage

For more information: Wisconsin Project SEARCH:

Wisconsin Fast Forward-Blueprint for Prosperity:

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