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Scott Walker, Governor
Raymond Allen, 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

June 1, 2016
CONTACT: Tom Evenson, (608) 267-7303

Governor Walker Celebrates Project SEARCH Graduates

Ceremony marks second graduating class of Waukesha Memorial Hospital participants

Waukesha – Governor Scott Walker joined state and regional partners today in congratulating the second class of Project SEARCH graduates at Waukesha Memorial Hospital. Project SEARCH combines work experience and classroom instruction to provide life-long career skills to youth with disabilities.

"Waukesha Memorial Hospital and ProHealth Care continue to be great supporters of Project SEARCH in Wisconsin," Governor Walker said. "This strong public-private partnership gives youth with disabilities the crucial career skills they need to become gainfully employed and move towards true independence."

Project SEARCH integrates on-site work experience in a business environment with classroom instruction. Interns report five days per week to their employer to learn employability skills in a classroom as well as hands-on job skills. Since 2008, over 450 students with disabilities have graduated from Project SEARCH programs throughout Wisconsin.

Governor Walker significantly expanded Project SEARCH in 2014 when he launched the year of A Better Bottom Line initiative in support of overcoming obstacles to employment for people with disabilities. A Better Bottom Line, which is 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 like the Department of Workforce Development’s (DWD’s) Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR).

"DWD is proud to be a partner and assist these talented youth on their way to finding rewarding careers," said Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Deputy Secretary Georgia Maxwell, who spoke at the graduation ceremony. "Wisconsin’s youth with disabilities are essential to Wisconsin’s workforce and contribute greatly to the businesses for which they work as demonstrated by a large amount of private sector interest in Project SEARCH."

There are ten healthcare providers throughout the state currently participating in Project SEARCH, demonstrating a strong industry partnership. As employers across all industries continue to seek skilled talent to fill open positions, Project SEARCH is providing the opportunity for youth with disabilities to demonstrate their talents to these employers.

"The Waukesha Memorial Hospital Project SEARCH graduates have proven they have the ability, talent, and skill to succeed in Wisconsin’s workforce," Department of Health Services (DHS) Deputy Secretary Tom Engels, who attended the ceremony, said. "I’m proud of the collaboration between state and local agencies, employers, schools, and parents, which allowed these students to demonstrate what they are capable when given a chance."

Partners of the Project SEARCH program at Waukesha Memorial Hospital include ProHealth Care, Easter Seals of Southeast Wisconsin, DVR, the school districts of Whitewater, Waukesha, and Muskego-Norway, and the Department of Health Services (DHS). Eight youth with disabilities graduated at today’s ceremony.