Wisconsin Department of Commerce Newsletter
February 2006
Wisconsin Fresh Start Expanding Throughout the State

Fresh Start HomeWisconsin Fresh Start, a highly successful Department of Commerce initiative helping at-risk youth turn their lives around using the construction of a housing unit as the method of instruction in job and life skills, will be continuing and likely expanding in 2006 as a result of $2.6 million in HUD-Youthbuild grants directly awarded to WFS agencies throughout the state. These grants were part of more than $3.3 million in Youthbuild funds awarded to WFS and similar programs in Wisconsin.

Youthbuild funds will help pay for WFS staff and participant wages and other costs associated with the program and will complement the funding offered by the Department of Commerce. Community Action (CAC), Inc., also received a Youthbuild grant, and discussions are underway about CAC joining the Wisconsin Fresh Start initiative. The Indianhead and ADVOCAP organizations may be adding new crews.

YouthbuildBecause WFS agencies must show other sources of financial support in their Youthbuild applications, the Department of Commerce's contribution to WFS was crucial leverage in bringing additional federal funding into the program. WFS will be awarding approximately $1.26 million in HOME, Wisconsin Department of Corrections, Wisconsin Department of Administration and Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority funding to nine agencies to run WFS programs statewide.

The program's results continue to be impressive. Since 1999, 834 youth have enrolled and 547 have completed program requirements. In addition, 188 WFS participants have completed their high school equivalent education and 275 have landed jobs paying an average of $8.14 per hour. Bureau of Housing staff note that they greatly appreciate the WISCAP agencies' continued partnership with the Department of Commerce in this successful venture and look forward to a successful 2006.

-- Padraic Durkin

The newsletter is issued electronically every other month.

Please send comments or questions to Barbro McGinn, editor.

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