KENOSHA, Wis. — On Tuesday, Governor Tony Evers announced a nearly $60 million investment to address workforce challenges across the state. It's part of a bigger $100 million Workforce Innovation Grant program funded by federal dollars through the American Rescue Plan Act.
Twelve projects will each address regional workforce needs. Gateway Technical College, the City of Kenosha, and the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee are all grant recipients.
"These investments will help folks get back to work and ensure that our communities, our families and our economy recover together," said Gov. Evers when talking about the grant program at Gateway Technical College in Kenosha.
One of the challenges identified by Gateway was a need for educated workers in high-demand jobs, but a high number of adults without high school diplomas. Gateway received a $5.6 million grant to expand its High School Equivalency Diploma (HSED) program.
"We want to let people know that it's not too late to start," said Dean of the School of Pre-College Programs Cydean Jennings. "If you're in the workforce and you still need to earn your high school credential, we're here to help. If you haven't started in the workforce and still need your high school diploma, we're here to help."
With the grant, The HSED program will enroll 1,300 more students per session and is adding a 4-week prep course for students who may have low math or reading levels. After the prep program, students will go straight into the 16-week work ready HSED program and will then also have a direct pathway to enroll in one of Gateway's 70 programs.
The City of Kenosha received nearly $1 million from the program to help foster entrepreneurship in the city by partnering with Gener8tor. The program is specifically aimed at providing coaching, mentorship and networking to start-up founders of color and women founders.
"What more strength can you have in a community than when people have the ability to get the help they need so they can actually create not just jobs for themselves, but jobs for others. It's a remarkable opportunity," said Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian.
The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee received a $3.3 million grant to help create pipelines of young, educated workers in Milwaukee. The organization will do that by using the Ready Center Collective "to launch a new approach to teen workforce training, credentialing and employment engagement" according to a release.
Other grant projects across the state include attracting and training healthcare professionals in rural Wisconsin, training construction and skilled workers, expanding affordable childcare, and a program to enable incarcerated folks to earn undergraduate degrees from the University of Wisconsin.