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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

Thursday, June 2, 2016
CONTACT: DWD Communications, 608-266-2722
On the Web: http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/news/
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State and Regional Partners Congratulate Kalahari Resort's First Class of Project SEARCH Graduates

Project SEARCH graduates gain life-long work skills and move toward greater independence

WISCONSIN DELLS – Officials from the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) congratulated the first class of Project SEARCH graduates from Kalahari Resorts at a ceremony at the resort earlier today. Eight youth with disabilities graduated from the program after completing both the work-based learning and classroom instruction that combine to make-up the Project SEARCH program.

"Providing youth with disabilities with an opportunity to demonstrate their considerable skills to employers provides them employment experience that will benefit them for a life-time," Governor Scott Walker said. "By immersing the participants in all aspects of the business, participants gain a wide-range of work-skills that are easily transferrable which gives them the ability to achieve the dignity of work and self-sustainability."

During their time in the program, participants reported to Kalahari five days a week to learn employability skills in a classroom and hands-on job skills within a business environment. Project SEARCH interns selected three or four rotations which allowed them to learn multiple functions of the business and use that experience when deciding on future career paths. Certified special education instructors and career coaches work together with interns and resort staff to problem solve and put the participants on the path to program success.

"Project SEARCH is a proven model that continues to provide access to a wide-range of careers for youth with disabilities," Secretary Allen said. "I would like to thank Kalahari Resorts, as well as all the other employers who participate for giving these talented individuals the tools needed to succeed in today's workforce."

The Project SEARCH program at Kalahari is a partnership between the school districts of Mauston, Reedsburg and Baraboo, DWD's Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, the state Department of Health Services and other local care organizations. Since the start of the Project SEARCH program in 2008, 457 individuals have successfully graduated from the program.

Governor Walker expanded Project SEARCH in 2014 when he launched the year of A Better Bottom Line initiative in support of overcoming barriers to employment for job seekers with disabilities. A Better Bottom Line is tailored 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 strategic investments.

DVR actively serves over 17,000 job seekers with disabilities and helped 4,875 consumers reach their employment goals during the most recent federal fiscal year. For more information, visit the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation website