By Ariele Vaccaro
In the spirit of Disability Mentoring Day, the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) highlighted an initiative that helps young Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients find educational and employment resources.
During a Wednesday press conference, DWD pointed out recent wins for the program, including high interest on the part of local employers.
The federal grant-funded program has been helping teenagers between 14 and 16 years of age to finish high school, reach for college, find jobs, handle their finances, and become independent.
A partnership between Independence First and Creative Employment Opportunities (CEO) keeps Wisconsin Promise running.
The groups have already enrolled some 1,200 families into the program.
They can enroll a maximum of 2,000 families by April 2016.
Throughout the week, the youth involved in Wisconsin Promise have been working closely with and shadowing mentors who volunteered to teach them about various career paths and fields the youth have taken interest in.
One Milwaukee mother, Diane Cook, and her son Derek are part of Wisconsin Promise.
The two spoke during the press conference, endorsing the program.
Derek has already taken a “Skills to Pay the Bills” finance course.
Now, he’s getting temporary job experience. Cook explained that the initiative has helped her son “set goals throughout high school as well as when he goes through college.”
Stephanie Bostedt is an employment consultant at CEO.
She spoke at the press conference and encouraged employers to hire disabled workers.
“These individuals are eager to work,” said Bostedt.
President and CEO at Our Next Generation, Inc. and Promise Champion La Toya Sykes saw the program as a way to give disabled individuals the ability to “to do much more than they thought they could do.”
Georgia Maxwell, deputy secretary at DWD, also spoke during the conference.
She pointed out a number of resolutions and proclamations from elected officials like County Executive Chris Abele, Mayor Tom Barrett, Congresswoman Gwen Moore, and Governor Scott Walker.
A representative for Common Council President Michael Murphy brought yet another resolution endorsing Wisconsin Promise.
The conference closed with a music video by The Figureheads, a Milwaukee non-profit that produces hip hop music videos with a positive message.
The conference took place during what Governor Scott Walker has dubbed Disability Employment Awareness Month.
He is encouraging the state to recognize disabled workers and their employers.
Families interested in enrolling in Wisconsin Promise are encouraged to visit Promisewi.com for more information.
Online Enrollment Materials:
For questions, assistance completing the materials, or information on upcoming Promise signup events, contact
Toll-free phone: 1-855-480-5618