MILWAUKEE — The UW-Milwaukee announced Thursday it received a $500,000 grant to place 100 students in paid internships over the next two years.
"This is going to change the lives of every participant of this program," said MMAC vice president, Corry Joe Biddle.
The internships will be with Milwaukee-area corporations, but the overarching goal of the new program is to address "one of the greatest challenges" facing employers in Wisconsin: a lack of skilled employees from diverse backgrounds.
"Anywhere from the largest corporations here to small consulting shops. Everything that's included in this program is all the elements that are necessary to help students transition from student to professional in the place that they will call home, Milwaukee," said Biddle.
The university is partnering with Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce to launch the "UWM Student Success & Talent Pipeline" program. The grant came from the state Department of Workforce Development. Participating companies signed MMAC's "Region of Choice" initiative, in order to "address racial disparities and improve prosperity for all," a statement from UWM reads.
"We're going to collectively increase our employment at large when it comes to Latinos and Hispanic talent and African-American talent," said Biddle.
“This is another fantastic example of the innovative partnerships the University of Wisconsin System is engaging in to help students succeed while connecting with our business partners to enhance the educational experience,” UW System President Tommy Thompson said in the statement. Thompson and UW officials visited Milwaukee on Thursday for a press conference to announce the program.
The program also includes on-site mentors, campus success coaches and coursework designed to develop the interns’ professional skill sets.
Students who get internships with one of the program’s corporate partners will work 10 to 15 hours every week and earn between $15 and $21 per hour.
"The internship program will create an experience that will ground and connect participants to Milwaukee keeping young and diverse talent here in the region," said Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development Deputy Secretary, Pamela McGillivray.
Funding for the internships and the program’s supporting infrastructure comes from the grant from DWD, according to the university.