State grants promote more inclusive workforce

A handful of Milwaukee-area nonprofits serving individuals with disabilities are among a pool of organizations across Wisconsin that will benefit from $600,000 in worker trainer grants distributed by the state.


The grants, announced on Thursday by Gov. Scott Walker, are part of Walker’s $35.4 million “Wisconsin Fast Forward – Blueprint for Prosperity” initiative, which pumps funds into worker training programs throughout Wisconsin.

The grants, which Walker announced at the St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care in Milwaukee and at the Opportunity Development Center in Marshfield, also advance the state’s push for employers to hire people with disabilities under Walker’s 2014 proclamation, “Year of A Better Bottom Line.”

Funds allocated target organizations and programs that prepare individuals with disabilities for viable careers. Among grant recipients are Milwaukee Center for Independence, Inc., which was awarded $99,125; Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin, Inc., given $53,087; St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care, Inc., granted $30,460; and Easter Seals of Southeast Wisconsin, Inc., awarded $43,000.

“This year, we proclaimed the ‘Year of A Better Bottom Line’ to encourage and promote employment opportunities for people with disabilities,” Walker said. “Today, I am pleased to announce additional support to prepare more than 200 workers with disabilities for careers across Wisconsin. Not only will this help workers, but with their diverse strengths and skills, it will improve a company’s bottom line and spur economic growth.”

“A Better Bottom Line” is modeled after Delaware Governor Jack Markell’s initiative with the National Governor’s Association, through which he touts the benefits of creating inclusive workforces.

The State of Wisconsin also plans to allocate additional funds to Project SEARCH, a program supporting young people with disabilities through the transition from high school into the workforce. Another $850,000 in “Blueprint for Prosperity” funds, to be rolled out over three years, will allow 20 more businesses to take part in the program – up from the seven businesses currently participating.

Grants will be facilitated by the Department of Workforce Development’s Office of Skills Development.

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