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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

Tuesday, April 4, 2017
CONTACT: Tom Evenson, 608-266-2839
On the Web: http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/news/
On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/WIWorkforce
On Twitter: @WIWorkforce

DWD Deputy Secretary Meets Burlington Youth Working Toward Independence, Brighter Financial Future through Wisconsin Promise

Cody Gray, 17, working first job at local McDonald's, developing skills as he pursues long-term career goal as welder

BURLINGTON – Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Deputy Secretary Georgia Maxwell today met Cody Gray, a youth with disabilities who works at McDonald's in Burlington, as Cody and his family shared their success story as participants in the Wisconsin Promise program. The program is a national grant-supported project designed to improve education and employment services for youth SSI (Social Security Supplemental Security Income) recipients and their families.

"Wisconsin Promise is helping hundreds of Wisconsin youth and families work their way off public benefits and move from government dependence to true independence with skills training, counseling and financial planning," Deputy Secretary Maxwell said. "We are fortunate that Cody and his mother, Jennifer Gray, are willing to share their story with us, and we are inspired and humbled by their accomplishments. We also recognize employers like McDonald's for helping many young people develop important work skills."

Cody, 17, is the subject of the third "Youth With Promise" video in a series profiling Wisconsin Promise youth. Filming throughout the day includes Cody at home, school and at his first job at McDonald's located at 240 E. Jefferson St. in Burlington. In addition to working 20 hours a week, Cody meets monthly in the dining room over coffee with his Wisconsin Promise counselor.

“We want crew members to learn, develop and succeed in their careers and in life,” said William McEssy, owner/operator of 30 McDonald’s restaurants in Wisconsin and Illinois. “That’s why we support training and education programs, like Wisconsin Promise, that fulfill a desire for young people to learn work routines, organizational teamwork, and foundational skills they can use anywhere. McDonald’s is committed to being America’s best first job, and raising the bar when it comes to our people.”

Cody, 17, started working at McDonald's in April 2016. He is a junior at Burlington High School and is pursuing a career goal to become a welder. At McDonald’s, Cody works in the drive thru, the front counter and as a hospitality host. Outside of work, he enjoys playing basketball with his friends, playing video games, riding his bike and volunteering.

"Wisconsin Promise offers a better future for Cody and for myself," said Jennifer Gray. "It's an opportunity for him to accomplish everything he wants."

Cody is among hundreds of Wisconsin Promise youth and family members who have started at least one new job since enrolling in the program.

"Wisconsin Promise has helped me out a lot, particularly with my schooling and my education," said Cody Gray. "My Wisconsin Promise Counselor, Kitra, has been wonderful to work with."

About Wisconsin Promise

Wisconsin Promise is a $32.5 million, five-year grant supported by the U.S. Department of Education. The grant is designed to improve education and employment services for youth SSI (Social Security Supplemental Security Income) recipients and their families. Wisconsin is one of six sites across the country taking part.

Wisconsin Promise is administered by DWD's Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) in partnership with the state Departments of Children & Families, Health Services and Public Instruction, as well as other partners. The demonstration grant project includes 2,024 enrollees, about half of whom receive intensive Promise services and other half assigned to receive usual DVR services.

Promise services cover areas such as financial stability, workforce resources and job opportunities for youth with disabilities and their families. Resources include career exploration, financial planning, job searching, self-advocacy and school transition planning. Wisconsin Promise was launched in 2014, which Governor Walker declared as Year of A Better Bottom Line to encourage businesses to hire people with disabilities.

About DWD

As the state's talent development agency, DWD connects employers with a robust pool of skilled workers; assists job seekers with disabilities in achieving their employment outcomes; and oversees the state's Unemployment Insurance, Equal Rights and Worker's Compensation programs.

About McDonald’s

McDonald’s USA, LLC, serves a variety of menu options made with quality ingredients to nearly 25 million customers every day. Nearly 90 percent of McDonald’s 14,000 U.S. restaurants are independently owned and operated by businessmen and women. Customers can now log online for free at approximately 11,500 participating Wi-Fi enabled McDonald’s U.S. restaurants. For more information, visit www.mcdonalds.com, or follow us on Twitter @McDonalds and Facebook www.facebook.com/mcdonalds.