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DWD logo

Tony Evers, Governor
Amy Pechacek, Secretary-designee

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

Monday, July 19, 2021
CONTACT: DWD Communications, 608-266-2722

DWD Secretary Amy Pechacek and WEDC Secretary Missy Hughes Announced nearly $600,000 in New Grants to The Urban League of Greater Madison

MADISON – Last week, the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary Amy Pechacek and Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) Secretary Missy Hughes visited the Urban League of Greater Madison (ULGM) to announce new grant funding for Black wealth building and economic empowerment initiatives.

DWD awarded a Wisconsin Fast Forward grant of more than $185,000 to ULGM to support its workforce training project, "Molecular Diagnostics Career Academy," with Exact Sciences, a rapidly growing Madison-based molecular diagnostics company that has been on the cutting edge of early detection and prevention of colorectal cancer.

"The Molecular Diagnostics Career Academy is a collaboration between the Urban League of Greater Madison and Exact Sciences to recruit, screen, train, place, and coach at least 90 job seekers for entry in the high-growth biomedical field," DWD Secretary Amy Pechacek said. "This is a prime example of the innovative work Wisconsin businesses and organizations are doing – turning to each other to find collaborative solutions to solve economic challenges."

The project will help Exact Sciences meet its workforce needs through an accelerated, short-term career academy model. During the five to seven weeks of training, unemployed and underemployed workers will develop an extensive set of transferable skills such as industry-specific computer skills; knowledge of quality assurance procedures, laboratory safety, and PPE protocols; reporting and analytical skills; as well as workplace communication, customer service, and teamwork skills. Training will also be supplemented with 12 months of individualized employment coaching to ensure worker job success.

  1. At least 75% of participants will be Black, Indigenous, people of color, and other job seekers that are under-represented in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields.
  2. At least 40% will be individuals whose employment has been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  3. At least 85% of trainees will be placed into one of 430 full-time, career pathway positions at Exact Sciences.

“The creation of intergenerational wealth starts with granting access to good jobs and providing access to capital to stabilize and grow businesses," ULGM President & CEO Dr. Ruben L. Anthony said. "The Urban League of Greater Madison is excited about how these grants will allow us to positively impact families and businesses. The DWD grant will allow us to prepare several cohorts for careers with EXACT Science, which has hired around 75% of graduates of the last six cohorts, allowing community members access to sustainable living wages. The grant from WEDC will allow ULGM to provide grants to small and minority owned business to help businesses start-up, grow and expand, which will create an economic multiplier effect."

Along with the Fast Forward grant, ULGM also received $400,000 Capital Catalyst Grant from WEDC that will be used to create the Black Business Hub Accelerator Fund. The program will provide loans, grants, and culturally competent technical assistance to at least 40 startups and existing businesses owned by people of color.

“WEDC’s Capital Catalyst Grant will allow the Urban League of Greater Madison to help jumpstart entrepreneurship in their community and set those businesses on a path of success,” said Missy Hughes, WEDC Secretary and CEO. “Aiding entrepreneurs early allows communities to build wealth and opportunity as these businesses grow.”

Learn more about Wisconsin Fast Forward