Greater Praise Church of God in Christ and Joseph Project are teaming up to redevelop a building on Center Street in Milwaukee that would house General Equivalency Diploma services, a daycare and other services for the workforce development program.
[caption id="attachment_338432" align="alignright" width="400"] A rendering of the General Education Development center at Center and 54th streets.[/caption]
Jerome Smith, pastor of Greater Praise Church of God in Christ and coordinator of Joseph Project, said a $6 million capital campaign has been launched to redevelop the unoccupied two-story building at 5403 W. Center Street, with plans to transform it into a general education development center.
Plans for the center include GED programming, a computer lab, a medical lab to allow participants to complete drug testing onsite, a cafe and a daycare for program participants.
That project will be paired with a plan to tear down the current Greater Praise church building across the street, at 5422 W. Center St., and construct a new church building that would stretch across the block.
[caption id="attachment_338430" align="alignright" width="398"] Joseph Project plans to develop this building at Center and 54th streets into a GED Center.[/caption]
The goal of both projects, Smith said, is "to rebuild Center Street" from 54th to 55th Streets.
"It will light the community up, it will decrease crime in the area and it will increase the visibility of what we do, how we do it and why we do it," Smith said.
Smith said Joseph Project will partner with a higher learning institution to assist candidates with acquiring their GED at the new center, which will expedite the process and help participants get hired at higher wages. On-site daycare will also eliminate a common barrier for job-seekers, Smith said.
“We don’t provide it now, but we want to be able to,” he said. “It will cater only to JP participants for those who don’t have daycare, which hinders them from getting employment.”
[caption id="attachment_338431" align="alignright" width="396"] A rendering of the new Greater Praise Church of God in Christ building.[/caption]
Smith said he envisions the GED program, cafe and daycare generating revenue for the program.
Smith said he hopes to start construction in June of 2019, and will spend this year focused on the capital campaign.
Joseph Project was launched in 2015 as an initiative to provide job training and transportation to work for Milwaukee residents. It’s run by Greater Praise Church of God with help from U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson’s office. Participants take five days of classes that promote life skills, including teamwork, time management, financial management, spiritual fitness, stress management and conflict resolution.
The program has helped 210 people find employment, with 160 of them still working, to date, Smith said.