When you see a picture of success, it is always a group picture when we are talking about the Joseph Project. The Joseph Project is the Micah Center’s faith-based employment training program in collaboration with Senator Ron Johnson’s Office. It has evolved over the past year to demonstrate the power of people working together to support one another. When a Joseph Project graduate accepts his or her certificate of completion and heads off to their job interviews, they are doing so after many people and peers have come together to walk alongside them on their new career path.
The journey begins with Micah Center Case Managers Dan Wolff and Eugene Smalls, the first points of contact for men and women in the community needing extra support gaining employment. The Joseph Project started as a constituent service through the office of U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson in collaboration with Greater Praise Church of God in Christ in Milwaukee. While traveling the state, the senator found that manufacturers’ number one concern was not having enough workers. Yet when he visited central city neighborhoods, the problem was not enough jobs. Johnson staffers worked with Pastor Jerome Smith (Greater Praise COGIC) to identify people ready for a life change, based on their attitude and determination. The Joseph Project is rapidly expanding, providing connections throughout the state for individuals who have a desire to work with businesses willing to pay a living wage.
Once the 4-day program begins, participants are met by welcoming faces of countless staff and volunteers as well as area business leaders who help participants understand what it takes to be a successful employee.
Local partner businesses Bay Industries, Little Rapids Corporation, NPS, and Bay Towel support the workshops and provide work opportunities for successful graduates. Volunteers led by Thom Cody conduct mock interviews for participants. Business leaders invest their time to show these future employees that their success is important and worth supporting. The Joseph Project now collaborates with the Brown County Jail Work Release population to provide a path to re-entry back into the community. Brown County Child Support Services incentivizes participants to significantly reduce child support owed in arrears to the state.
As participants take the step from mock interviews to real-life job interviewing, they are supported by ongoing coaching with Case Managers. The focus isn’t just on getting the job but keeping it and growing their career.
The Micah Center provides graduates with transportation during the initial months of employment. We recently announced the Milwaukee-based program reached out to us to donate a van. It has been our dream to have a Joseph Project van to better address the need for cost-effective and reliable transportation. With this gift, we were able to open up another volunteer opportunity: Joseph Project Volunteer Driver. Click here to learn more and get involved.
Thank you to all of the community members, leaders and volunteers who come together to create this circle of support for Joseph Project graduates! To date, six classes have been held, and we have graduated 34 people. Of those, 23 remain employed or in the program connected with case management employment coaches. The Joseph Project is proof that we achieve so much for our community when we work together.