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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 Recognizes Youth with Disabilities at Project SEARCH Graduation in Wisconsin Rapids

Wisconsin Rapids – Governor Scott Walker will join Department of Workforce Development (DWD) and Department of Health Services (DHS) officials as well as regional partners this evening in congratulating 12 Project SEARCH graduates at Aspirus Riverview Hospital in Wisconsin Rapids. Project SEARCH integrates work experience with classroom instruction for youth with disabilities to prepare them for successful careers in their chosen occupation.

"With Wisconsin’s economy continually expanding and employers looking to fill open positions, it’s imperative to develop the talents of everyone who wants to work, including workers with disabilities," Governor Walker said. "Our goal is to strengthen our workforce so anyone who wants a job can find a job and Project SEARCH helps us accomplish this by providing youth with disabilities the opportunity to demonstrate their unique abilities to local employers."

Project SEARCH interns report to their employer five days every week to learn employability and hands-on jobs skills in both classroom and workplace settings. Since 2008, over 450 Wisconsin students with disabilities have graduated from Project SEARCH programs throughout the state.

In 2014, Governor Walker made significant investments to expand Project SEARCH when he launched the year of A Better Bottom Line initiative in support of overcoming obstacles to employment for people with disabilities. The initiative was modeled after Delaware Governor Jack Markell's initiative with the National Governor’s Association and promotes employment opportunities for people with disabilities through recognition, education, and investments in programs like the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) at DWD.

"The healthcare industry is an important driver of Wisconsin’s economy and provides family-supporting careers to our state’s workforce," said DWD Assistant Deputy Secretary Dave Anderson, who attended the event. "The 12 individuals graduating tonight have demonstrated their skills, their commitment, and their value to Aspirus Riverview Hospital. We look forward to seeing them pursue their future careers."

"We’re proud of the opportunities Project SEARCH provides Wisconsin youth with disabilities," Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary Kitty Rhoades added. "The program helps participants throughout the state develop skills and work experience that will lay a foundation for their future career success."

Area organizations collaborating in the Project SEARCH program at Aspirus Riverview Hospital include Lincoln High School, Nekoosa High School, and the Opportunity Development Center.