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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

Friday, June 3, 2016
CONTACT: DWD Communications, 608-266-2722
On the Web: http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/news/
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On Twitter: @WIWorkforce

State and Regional Partners Recognize Youth with Disabilities at Project SEARCH Graduation Event in Appleton

Project SEARCH expansion yields 129 graduates statewide in 2015-16 school year

APPLETON – Regional leaders from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) joined other state and regional managers to congratulate nine Project SEARCH graduates from St. Elizabeth Hospital. Project SEARCH provides an opportunity for youth with disabilities to develop employment skills that lead to successful careers.

"Project SEARCH delivers lasting benefits to participating employers and youth, and is a win-win for our state's workforce and economy," Governor Scott Walker said. "As more Wisconsin employers host this innovative program at their workplace, more businesses are recognizing the many assets that job seekers with disabilities bring to their operation's bottom line.

Project SEARCH is a one-year transition program that includes on-site training and classroom education for youth with disabilities ages 18 through 25. Participants are immersed in a business environment, where they complete experiences that help them identify their preferred occupations and develop important career skills. Since 2008, over 450 youth with disabilities have 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.

"Through the combination of on-site work experience and classroom instruction, participating youth are building skills that are in demand in today's labor market," DWD Secretary Ray Allen said. "We congratulate these youth as they pursue their dreams and work toward achieving their employment goals.

Organizations collaborating in the Project SEARCH program at St. Elizabeth Hospital include Appleton School District, Valley Packaging Industries, DWD's Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and the state Department of Health Services (DHS).

In addition to the Appleton event, regional DWD staff also joined leaders at the Wal-Mart Distribution Center in Menomonie for a graduation celebration for nine additional graduates who successfully completed the program at the center. The Project SEARCH program in Menomonie was a partnership between the L.E Phillips Development Center, the school districts of Menomonie, Chippewa Falls, River Falls and Elk Mound as well as DWD's Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, DHS and the Wal-Mart Distribution Center.