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

Wednesday, July 30, 2014
CONTACT: DWD Communications, 608-266-2722
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DWD Deputy Secretary Barry Congratulates Graduates of Job Training Program for People with Disabilities

Collaboration between Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and Walgreens reaches 24 sites

RACINE – Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Deputy Secretary Jonathan Barry today congratulated graduates of an on-the-job training program for people with disabilities, a state partnership with Walgreens that puts individuals on a path to employment and independence.

Since May 2012, the DWD Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) has partnered with Walgreens in the national drugstore chain’s Retail Employees with Disabilities Initiative (REDI). The success of the early pilot in Milwaukee led the state and Walgreens to expand the program at Walgreens stores across the state. Today, REDI participants are receiving retail sales training in stores throughout Wisconsin including Racine, where 13 individuals from two Walgreens locations are graduating from the program.

During a ceremony at Gateway Technical College to recognize the graduates, Deputy Secretary Barry said the group's accomplishment is a tribute to the success of the initiative.

“Walgreens, through their REDI program, understands that hiring job seekers with disabilities plays an important role in Governor Walker's 2014 proclamation of the Year of A Better Bottom Line,” stated Deputy Secretary Barry. "Wisconsin's economy is growing and it is in part due to employers hiring people with disabilities which provide the skills and talents that businesses need to grow and succeed."

In 2010, Walgreens launched REDI as a pilot in Texas and soon expanded it to more than 150 stores throughout Texas, New York and Connecticut. To date, more than 200 individuals across the country have successfully completed four weeks of training as service clerks, and 66 percent have been recommended for hire.

Since May 2012, 129 externs have successfully completed REDI training statewide. Walgreens has more than 220 stores in Wisconsin, and the expansion of the REDI program to select locations throughout the state will continue to occur gradually. There are currently 24 REDI sites in Wisconsin, in stores in in Janesville, Beloit, Racine, Milwaukee, Franklin, Wauwatosa, Oconomowoc, Waukesha, West Bend, Oshkosh, Kaukauna, Appleton, Green Bay, Manitowoc, Menomonie, and Eau Claire.

In the Racine stores, Goodwill Industries was recruited by DVR to facilitate the training with Walgreens. The REDI program is one way DVR investments are yielding successful outcomes for Wisconsinites.

DVR is the state’s premier program to provide employment services and counseling to people with disabilities who face substantial barriers to employment. In 2013, DVR served more than 17,000 Wisconsin residents with disabilities and placed 3,840 people in jobs. These newly employed individuals are projected to earn $66.3 million annually, which represents a more than double return on the public investment in their services. DVR’s budget is 78.7% federal funded with a 21.3% state match required for each federal dollar allotted to Wisconsin.

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.

For more about the Walgreens REDI program:

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