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Scott Walker, Governor
Reginald J. Newson, Secretary

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, October 01, 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

First Lady Recognizes Walgreens for Job Training Program for People with Disabilities

Collaboration with Walgreens leads to employment for job seekers with disabilities

MADISON – First Lady of Wisconsin, Tonette Walker recognized Walgreens store managers from around Wisconsin whose stores participate in 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. The First Lady welcomed the Walgreens store managers to the Wisconsin Executive Residence for the reception.

Since May 2012, the Department of Workforce Development (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. Today, REDI participants are receiving retail sales training in stores throughout Wisconsin.

"As part of his Year of A Better Bottom Line initiative, the Governor is encouraging Wisconsin businesses to seek and hire the talents of job seekers with disabilities. Employees with disabilities can bring skills to a company that will truly help them improve their bottom line," said First Lady Tonette Walker. "Through Walgreen's REDI initiative, stores are creating workplaces that value the contributions of everyone."

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.

Since May 2012, 143 externs have successfully completed REDI training statewide. Ninety-six of those individuals have successfully found employment – 77 of them in Walgreens stores and 19 of them with other employers.

DWD Deputy Secretary Jonathan Barry was also on hand to recognize the Walgreens store managers. "Programs like REDI put people with disabilities on a pathway to employment and independence and I want to thank Walgreens and their store managers for their dedication to the success of this program and to the success of each individual REDI graduate."

Governor Walker has proclaimed October as Disability Employment Awareness Month in Wisconsin and today's reception served to kick-off the month's activities that will highlight the many Wisconsin businesses that have recruited and hired job-seekers with disabilities.

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. There are currently 28 REDI sites in Wisconsin, including: Janesville, Beloit, Racine, Milwaukee, Franklin, Wauwatosa, Oconomowoc, Waukesha, West Bend, Oshkosh, Kaukauna, Appleton, Green Bay, Manitowoc, Menomonie, Eau Claire, Hayward, Rice Lake and West Allis.

DVR is the state’s premier program to provide employment services and counseling to people with disabilities who face substantial barriers to employment. In the past twelve months, DVR is actively serving almost 17,000 Wisconsin residents with disabilities and placed 4,415 people in jobs. These newly employed individuals are projected to earn $78.3 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.

For more about the Walgreens REDI program: http://www.walgreens.com/topic/sr/disability_inclusion_home.jsp

For more about DVR: http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/dvr/

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