Wisconsin Department of Commerce Newsletter
August 2006
A Fresh Start in Beloit

At-risk youth in Beloit will soon have a new opportunity to turn their lives around. The Department of Commerce (Commerce) has contracted with Community Action, Inc., of Rock and Walworth Counties to be the tenth organization taking part in the Wisconsin Fresh Start initiative (WFS). With Beloit included, 10 Wisconsin communities will be served with 15 WFS crews overall.

"We are very pleased to have the opportunity to implement Fresh Start in Beloit," said Lisa Furseth, executive director of Community Action Inc., in a news release announcing the new program. "Our goal at Community Action is to help low-income individuals achieve self-sufficiency. This program provides at-risk youth with the tools they need to achieve that goal. Partnerships such as this one will be critical to the success of this program."

In January, Community Action Inc. was awarded $400,000 through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Youthbuild program to start a youth service program in Beloit. Plans call for a new single-family home to be built through the program on the west side of Beloit. In addition to Youthbuild funds, Community Action Inc. is receiving $30,000 in Department of Corrections funds administered by Commerce and $25,000 from Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA). The Department of Corrections and WHEDA are active partners with Commerce , the new Beloit program and the WFS initiative, and representatives from both agencies appeared at a news conference in Beloit in June to affirm their support for WFS.

Since its inception in 1998-99, Wisconsin Fresh Start has helped more than 660 at-risk youths take part and build more than 60 housing units for low-income families. The programs are modeled after Operation Fresh Start Inc. in Madison, the original program that formed in the early 1970s and since served approximately 6,000 youth.

-- Padraic Durkin

The newsletter is issued electronically every other month.

Please send comments or questions to Barbro McGinn, editor.

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