Second Chance needs your help

Second Chance Partners is looking to form more partnerships with southeastern Wisconsin businesses who can provide a unique learning environment for students from the area. The Second Chance Program is an alternative education model which provides non-traditional learners the opportunity to earn their high school diploma in a business setting.
“Sometimes students just don’t learn well in a traditional high school environment,” said Stephanie Borowski, executive director of Second Chance Partners for Education. “We can identify those students and help place them in an environment where they can learn in a business setting, and rather than dropping out they can earn their high school diploma and become contributing members of the community.”
The program consists of 21 consecutive months of an integrated youth apprenticeship and proficiency based classroom education.
“The students who are eligible for the program are required to spend two hours a day in a business-setting classroom, and the other six hours working,” Borowski said. “We can train them on things relevant to the business and on subjects relevant to earning a traditional high school diploma but in a ‘hands-on’ setting.”
Students and parents are required to sign a contract indicating their commitment to the program for the entire 21 months, Borowski said.
Students rotate to new job positions every seven months in the program.
“Our goal is to have these students find themselves in this process,” Borowski said. “We want them to find things they like and what they don’t like and go on to either an adult apprenticeship or pursue additional educational opportunities.”
Right now, Second Chance Partners has 19 education partners in southeastern Wisconsin and 17 business partners.
“Most of the career options we have for our students right now are light assembly, manufacturing and technical work,” Borowski said. “But we are hoping to expand to offer more options in health care and IT to accommodate student interest.”
As a business partner of Second Chance, businesses commit to taking on one to four students for seven months of on the job training, Borowski said.
“The students are held to the same expectations as regular employees, but operate under the umbrella of the youth apprenticeship,” she said.
Students are paid a negotiated wage similar to minimum wage and start their day at 7 a.m. They earn points based on their performance.
“The students and their families are constantly engaged throughout the entire process,” Borowski said. “We regularly hold meetings with the parents and students and there is a second chance site coordinator at each of the businesses throughout the day.”
Second Chance has graduated nearly 100 students from the program since 2006, including 18 this past May.
Next fall, Second Chance will need to place at least 82 students within companies for the program.
“We can always use more business partnerships,” said Borowski. “Right now we are limited in the amount of students we can accept because we need to have places for them to go.”
A few of the businesses that already serve as partners to Second Chance include: Generac Power Systems, Inc., Great Lakes Packaging, Inc., Husco International, Inc., LaVelle Industries Inc., Tailored Label Products, Inc., Waukesha Electric Systems, Inc., and Paragon Development Systems, Inc.
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