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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

Tuesday, October 13, 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

Deputy Secretary Maxwell Joins New Class of Project SEARCH Interns at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Appleton

Governor Walker has proclaimed October Disability Employment Awareness Month in Wisconsin

APPLETON – On Monday, October 12, Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Deputy Secretary Georgia Maxwell met with the newest interns of a training and education program for students with disabilities in their last year of high school. Project SEARCH provides students with disabilities with skills and work experience that will help them become employed after high school.

Since 2008, over 220 students with disabilities have graduated from Project SEARCH programs throughout Wisconsin. Besides the program at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Appleton, there are Project SEARCH sites in Green Bay, Marshfield, Madison, Menomonie, Middleton, Milwaukee, River Falls, Sauk City, Stevens Point, Waukesha, Wisconsin Dells and Wisconsin Rapids.

"Governor Walker recognizes the value that proven training programs and other supports can offer young people with disabilities as they move toward greater independence and economic self-sufficiency," Deputy Secretary Maxwell said. "We wish these bright, young and motivated interns the very best as they learn new skills through their experience in Project SEARCH."

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.

Organizations collaborating on the Project SEARCH program at St. Elizabeth Hospital include the Appleton Area School District, Valley Packaging, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and DWD's Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.

DVR staff, teachers and hospital human resources staff participate in the screening and selection process for Project SEARCH interns. Career coaches from Valley Packaging assist the interns on the job to ensure that they have the supports they need to be successful.

A Better Bottom Line

Governor Walker launched the year of A Better Bottom Line initiative in 2014 in support of overcoming obstacles to employment for people with disabilities. A Better Bottom Line, tailored after Delaware Governor Jack Markell’s initiative with the National Governor’s Association, promotes employment opportunities for people with disabilities through recognition, education and investments in programs including Project SEARCH, which helps young people with disabilities transition from high school to the workplace. Governor Walker’s Blueprint for Prosperity increases the number of participating Project SEARCH businesses by 20, up from seven, over three years. Governor Walker also signed legislation to increase the number of people served by DVR by 6,000 to reduce the Category 2 waiting list for persons with significant disabilities.

DVR actively serves 17,000 job seekers with disabilities and helped 4,875 consumers reach their employment goals during the most recent federal fiscal year.

Project SEARCH was developed in 1996 by Nurse J. Erin Riehle, then the Director of the Emergency Department at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. As the flagship program, Cincinnati Children's Hospital provides technical assistance for replication and overall leadership to Project SEARCH worldwide.

For more information:

Division of Vocational Rehabilitation
Disability Awareness Month Proclamation

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