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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

Thursday, June 4, 2015
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

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

MENOMONIE – Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Assistant Deputy Secretary Dave Anderson today visited the Wal-Mart Distribution Center in Menomonie to congratulate 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.

"On behalf of Governor Walker, I congratulate the students for their accomplishments in developing work skills through this innovative partnership," Assistant Deputy Secretary said at the graduation ceremony held at the distribution center. "Project SEARCH offers an opportunity for students with disabilities to move toward greater independence, and for employers to improve their bottom line by creating opportunities for these dedicated and hard-working individuals to develop these skills."

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 internship rotations where they gain real-life work experience and that give them marketable, transferable and competitive skills.

In 2014, 65 students with disabilities completed Project SEARCH programs throughout Wisconsin. Since 2008, 203 Project SEARCH interns have completed the program. Besides the program at the Wal-Mart Distribution Center in Menomonie, there are Project SEARCH sites in Appleton, Madison, Marshfield, Middleton, Waukesha and Milwaukee.

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

Project SEARCH is part of the Governor’s A Better Bottom Line initiative to encourage employment opportunities for people with disabilities. In fiscal year 2014, DVR helped 4,415 job seekers with disabilities to achieve their employment goals.

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