The Joseph Project, a nonprofit organization founded by U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Pastor Jerome Smith, Sr., announced this week that it successfully placed its 100th trained worker in a good-paying job to support her family.
Inspired by Robert L. Woodson’s book, “The Triumph of Joseph: How Today’s Community Healers are Reviving Our Streets and Neighborhoods,” the Joseph Project seeks to eradicate poverty by providing skills preparation for workers unable to find employment. The multi-step process connects qualified workers to Wisconsin’s legacy manufacturing industry.
Participants begin by attending trainings led by Johnson and Pastor Smith. They develop an entire suite of professional skills, ranging from how to dress for a job interview to how to be a reliable employee.
Once they complete the course, the Wisconsin Republican vouches for the prospective worker with his peers in the manufacturing sector. In some cases, these individuals have criminal records, so Johnson’s testimony to their capabilities is absolutely vital to securing a job that pays upward of $25 an hour with full benefits.
The Joseph Project also ensures that participants can show up to that new job. So the group provides transportation to and from the workplace for as long as it’s needed.
That’s just how Kenyetta Williams, a 32-year-old from Milwaukee, became the 100th successful participant in the 13-month-old Joseph Project’s job placement program.
“I’m very excited and kind of nervous,” Williams told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel as she boarded a bus at Greater Praise Church for an hour-long drive to her new job at a food manufacturer in Seboygan County.
Bolstered by a remarkable 70 percent retention rate, Smith told the Milwaukee newspaper that the program had already expanded to another church in the city, as well as one in the state capital of Madison. The project’s goal for 2017, he says, is to place another 400 people in high-paying careers.
After Johnson’s successful re-election campaign called attention to the efforts of the Joseph Project, donations have poured in. As the result of a hefty contribution from an anonymous donor, the church was able to purchase a 15-passenger van to help shuttle more participants to and from their job sites.
Johnson’s deep commitment to the Joseph Project is unusual. While many wealthy businessmen and politicians will write checks or participate in photo opportunities with underserved communities, he is intimately involved with the Joseph Project, becoming invested in the families he helps and building connections that allow these workers to enjoy the fruits of their self-sufficiency.
As Opportunity Lives celebrates this joyous holiday season, we ask you to consider contributing whatever you’re able to the Joseph Project. This organization will be a responsible steward of your generosity, directly transforming the lives of those who seek the opportunity to care for themselves and their families. Give the gift that lasts a lifetime.
Click here to make a difference today.
Ellen Carmichael is a senior writer for Opportunity Lives. Follow her on Twitter @ellencarmichael.