Sherman Park group provides training, careers

Posted at 5:52 PM, Aug 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-16 19:54:16-04

In the midst of great unrest in Milwaukee, many people have said economic struggles led to burning buildings and looted businesses. While nobody offers quick solutions, a Sherman Park group is rebuilding the community by building its workforce.

Rashaad Washington started Pro Trade Development. He knows sometimes it takes a wake-up call to make change, especially in a city where 84,000 households have incomes of less than $25,000.

"The judge told me either you get a job or you go to jail," explained Washington of an experience in his teen years. "I've been an entrepreneur ever since [I was] 22 years old."

Washington became a dad before he could graduate school. His dad wasn't around, and his mom worked all the time. He said his barriers are barriers to other Milwaukee kids, too, keeping them from learning what they need to get good jobs.

"The economy is a fast-moving train," said Tim Sheehy, the president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce. "If you don't have the education or skill to catch it, the frustration just builds," he said.

Milwaukee ranks 8th in concentrated poverty, said Sheehy. He said that's where Milwaukee faces a great challenge.

"What we have is a growing mismatch between the kinds of jobs that are being created and the skills that are there," he said.

It has become Washington's purpose, through Pro Trade Job Development, to create the job and life skills in members of his community.

He and his team are molding young people, teaching values like hard work and integrity, even before the students learn job skills. Over the 10-week program, students can only miss twice and are expected to be on time.

Washington himself offered to work for free when he desperately needed a job- that's the kind of commitment to learning he imparts on his students. Additionally, the groups go into the community, performing service projects, like cleaning up garbage throughout the neighborhood.

"These are people who are committed to changing their own lives," said Washington.

Over the last few years, 200 people have gone through Washington's program, including high risk Department of Corrections released inmates. Washington said 70 percent have found careers. You can find more information on the program here.

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