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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 First Class of Project SEARCH Graduates at River Falls Area Hospital

Eleven youth graduate from internship prepared for today's workforce

RIVER FALLS – Today, officials from the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) joined Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary Kitty Rhoades in congratulating 11 Project SEARCH graduates at River Falls Area Hospital. Project SEARCH is an internship that helps students with disabilities develop skills that are in demand by today's employers.

"Project SEARCH helps youth with disabilities build the skills and confidence they need to achieve success in today's labor market and move toward true independence," Governor Scott Walker said. "As many Project SEARCH graduates find employment immediately after graduation, employers also gain talented, motivated and highly loyal workers."

The cornerstone of Project SEARCH is total immersion into a business environment. Interns select three to four different work rotations which allow them to experience a variety of different jobs which not only allows them to identify their preferred occupation after graduation, but also provides them with a wide range of career skills.

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.

“Today's Project SEARCH graduates have proven that they have plenty of ability, skill, and talent to offer in the workplace, and I’m proud of the collaboration among state and local agencies, employers, schools and parents that allowed these participants to show what they are capable of when they are given a chance,” Secretary Rhoades said.

River Falls Area Hospital was a new Project SEARCH site for the 2015-2016 school year. Of the 14 current businesses that participate in Project SEARCH, 10 are health care facilities, demonstrating a strong industry partnership. The program at River Falls Area Hospital was a collaboration involving the school districts of River Falls, Baldwin-Woodville and New Richmond, along with DHS, the Department of Workforce Development's (DWD) Division of Vocational Services, and area community care organizations.

The Project SEARCH program at River Falls Area Hospital was a collaboration involving the school districts of River Falls, Baldwin-Woodville and New Richmond, DWD's Division of Vocational Services, DHS and area community care organizations.