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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

Friday, June 5, 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

A Better Bottom Line: Assistant Deputy Secretary Anderson Congratulates Graduates of Project SEARCH at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Appleton

High school students with disabilities complete innovative job training program

APPLETON – Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Assistant Deputy Secretary Dave Anderson today visited St. Elizabeth Hospital in Appleton 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.

"As the nation's first Project SEARCH site was in a hospital, in Wisconsin we've had a tremendous partnership with St. Elizabeth Hospital to make this program available to students with disabilities," Assistant Deputy Secretary Anderson said. "Innovative programs like Project SEARCH help employers see first-hand how people with disabilities can improve their bottom line, and students develop valuable skills that will help them become more independent."

The cornerstone of Project SEARCH is total immersion into the business environment. Five days a week, Project SEARCH interns report to St. Elizabeth Hospital 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.

DWD Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) staff, teachers and hospital human resources staff participate in the screening and selection process for Project SEARCH interns. Certified Special Education Instructors from the Appleton Area School District and career coaches from Valley Packaging assist the interns on the job to ensure that they have the supports they need to be successful.

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 St. Elizabeth Hospital in Appleton, there are Project SEARCH sites in Madison, Marshfield, Menomonie, Middleton, Waukesha and Milwaukee.

Governor Walker expanded the Project SEARCH program in Wisconsin through his Year of A Better Bottom Line initiative. New funding for Project SEARCH will create 20 new sites in Wisconsin by 2017, with seven new sites accepting students for the 2015-16 school year.

In fiscal year 2014, DVR helped 4,415 job seekers with disabilities achieve their employment goals.

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