Grantees Announced for Reducing Barriers to Employment & Advancement Initiative
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Grantees Announced for Reducing Barriers to Employment & Advancement Initiative

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Henry, a RBEA participant

August 11, 2022

Give to the roots, and you’ll nourish all the branches.

When everyone has access to family supporting income from work that affirms their dignity, our whole community is stronger on every level. 

Led by United Way's Diversity Leadership Society, the Reducing Barriers to Employment & Advancement initiative is anchored in the belief that all adults of working age should have the opportunity to obtain permanent employment with a livable wage at a workplace where they are treated with dignity and have opportunities for advancement. This helps families create safer, more stable, and healthier homes.

Here are the 2022 grantees for funding:

African American Leadership Alliance Milwaukee (AALAM)

Funding Purpose: Diverse Talent Retention 
Program Name: African American Leadership Alliance Milwaukee (AALAM) 
Program Description:
The African American Leadership Alliance Milwaukee (AALAM) builds on more than 20 years of leadership development work among Milwaukee’s Black professionals. They seek system-wide change so Black leaders in Milwaukee can thrive and make a difference. AALAM will infuse hope by developing and supporting a thriving pool of diverse and talented African American leaders. 
AALAM pursues the following five strategies to increase employment and retention of African Americans in leadership positions in Milwaukee. Activities for each strategy are designed with participants at every stage of development. The strategies are: 

  • Implementation of the African American Leadership Program (AALP)
  • Human Resource Diversity Capacity Building 
  • CEO Visibility 
  • Leadership Programming 
  • Narrative Change

As a result of these strategies, AALAM will help Milwaukee become a place where African American leaders are visible and active in all sectors; where Milwaukee is perceived as a positive community for African Americans leaders; and where there is a healthy supply chain of potential and emerging African American leaders.

HeartLove Place

Funding Purpose: Education, Training, and Credentials  
Program Name: Food Service & Employment
Program Description: HeartLove Place (HLP) is committed to assisting teens and adults who have an interest in the field of food services and culinary arts. The training provided would include ServSafe Food Handler, ServSafe Manager, and/or ProStart Culinary & Job Readiness Training. All programs include certifications through ServSafe and the National Restaurant Association's ProStart Program. In addition, the program will also include critical job readiness preparation and hands-on training. Programs will range from a 1-week program to a more extensive 14-week program (ProStart). HLP will partner with North Division High School, which is an MPS NAF (National Academy Foundation) school site. NAF is a national network of education, business, and community leaders who work together to ensure that high school students are college, career, and future ready.

Independence First

Funding Purpose: Education, Training, and Credentials  
Program Name: Diversity and Inclusion 
Program Description: Independence First proposes to obtain internal training and external recruitment to be a lead agency exemplifying diversity and inclusion. The agency's mission is to be inclusive for people with disabilities in the community. The intersection of this with racial diversity is important to foster through education, training, and recruitment. Internal training programs would open advancement opportunities inside the organization for a diverse population who has not had opportunities for training and advancement in the past. Much of this is due to economic factors and the availability of opportunities. A DEI specialist and recruiter will begin to do external outreach for qualified diverse candidates who have the ability but have not had the opportunity or advanced education in management skills. 

JobsWork MKE

Funding Purpose: Education, Training, and Credentials  
Program Name: Interrupting Unresolved Trauma as a Significant Barrier to Stable Employment 
Program Description: JobsWork MKE (“JobsWork”) is a private, nonprofit agency serving Milwaukee area adults seeking job placement and career development services. Individuals served struggle to find and keep meaningful employment primarily because of the significant barriers that are standing in their way of successful long-term employment. These barriers include childcare, transportation, lack of education/skills, criminal record, housing instability, drug/alcohol addiction, and mental health challenges. JobsWork will help design and implement a systemic, multi-pronged approach to interrupt unresolved trauma as the most significant barrier to stable employment. Interrupting Unresolved Trauma as a Significant Barrier to Stable Employment addresses employment and income inequalities by increasing stable labor participation and enhancing participants’ ability to envision and attain powerful futures that include career advancement and sustainable living wages.   

La Casa de Esperanza

Funding Purpose: Transportation, Diverse Talent Retention, Education, Training, and Credentials 
Program Name: Career Empowerment Center 
Program Description: La Casa works alongside partner organizations, employers, and nearly 20,000 individuals from our community every year to identify programming to fill existing gaps impacting the local workforce. La Casa has developed an innovative solution to create a dedicated building known as the Career Empowerment Center (CEC). Their goals are to address multiple barriers in a single central location by providing computer access for job searching, resume and application writing, professional training, drop-in daycare for all qualified clients of employment services, and up to one month of La Casa care for new employees. They also offer soft skills workshops, transportation assistance, shuttle services, gift cards (gas, Uber, etc.), bus passes/tickets for qualifying events, workplace apparel and & tools assistance, financial education and & coaching, ESL services, long-term coaching, and a repurposed coach bus that will act as a mobile CEC throughout the region.

Legal Action of Wisconsin, Inc.

Funding Purpose: Involvement in the Justice System, Education, Training, and Credentials 
Program Name: Road to Opportunity Project 
Program Description:
Legal Action of Wisconsin attorneys will provide advice and legal representation to people seeking pardons, expungements, and citation defense assistance to remove barriers to family sustaining legal action employment. Criminal convictions and citation convictions create legal grounds to deny employment to job seekers in Wisconsin. Post-conviction remedies, like pardons, increase the earning potential of the recipient. The Road to Opportunity Project also seeks to improve the legal systems for clients who were involved with the justice systems. The Road to Opportunity Project attorneys are some of the only attorneys who specialize in municipal court litigation, and they are often the only attorneys seeking to enforce poverty protections in municipal court. By fighting to create transparency in municipal courts and fighting for procedural rights in criminal records cases, their attorneys improve the justice system for all people. 

Literacy Services of Wisconsin 

Funding Purpose: Involvement in the Justice System, Education, Training, and Credentials 
Program Name: Adult Education as a Pathway to Employment 
Program Description: Literacy Services’ Adult Education as a Pathway to Employment program directly addresses the needs of adults without secondary education credentials and is designed to prepare students with the knowledge and skills necessary to transition to new or advanced employment. 
Programming includes GED exam preparation, High School Equivalency Diploma (HSED) program, Corrections Adult Ed program, and RISE Entrepreneurship HSED. In all program areas, there is extensive emphasis on digital, vocational, and workforce readiness skills. Principles of adult education indicate that providing adults with a clear path that is relevant to their goals and meets their needs increases participation and success rates.

Milwaukee Community Service Corps. (MCSC)

Funding Purpose: Involvement in the Justice System, Education, Training, and Credentials 
Program Name: MCSC Core Training Program 
Program Description: Milwaukee Community Service Corps. (MCSC) exists to provide education, life skills, and job training opportunities for Milwaukee's unemployed, under-employed, and hard-to-employ adults and at-risk youth that allow them to earn wages while improving the community as well as the environment.  Historically, 92% of the individuals we serve are People of Color. 
The funding requested will be used to help MCSC Trainees:

  • Earn industry recognized OSHA10 and Forklift Credentials 
  • Complete paid Work Projects training 
  • Receive case management and coaching support
  • Complete financial literacy education on budgeting, credit, and financial decision making

Upon completion of the Core Training program, trainees can obtain jobs paying $14 to $22 per hour. The OSHA10 and Forklift Credentials qualify graduates for employment in a broad range of industries including construction, warehouse/distribution, manufacturing, landscaping, environmental services, and building maintenance/rehab. The training and credentials also prepare trainees to participate in apprenticeship programs for a variety of vocations. 

MobiliSE (formerly MetroGO/Regional Transit Leadership Council)

Funding Purpose: Transportation 
Program Name: Flex Ride Milwaukee 
Program Description: Flex Ride Milwaukee is a unique transportation alternative that offers rides to employment centers in the suburbs from five pick up spots in the city of Milwaukee. These rides operate like Uber or Lyft, but at a tiny fraction of the cost to the rider. The service is currently a pilot, formally launched in February 2022, providing rides to Menomonee Falls and Butler.  
Flex Ride Milwaukee is the result of a unique partnership between MobiliSE (the applicant), Southeast Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, UWM, Employ Milwaukee, and Waukesha County Business Alliance. MobiliSE played a key role in securing the funds and political/community support to launch this service and is leading efforts to build political and financial support to extend the service beyond the initial pilot phase and to replicate it in other parts of the metro area.

Prism Economic Development Corporation

Funding Purpose: Education, Training, and Credentials 
Program Name: Food Entrepreneurs Growth Opportunity with an Experiential Learning Partner 
Program Description: PRISM Economic Development Corporation began the development and now operates UpStart Kitchen, a shared commercial kitchen that provides a space for entrepreneurs to start or grow their food-oriented business. Prism EDC is evolving into a hub for food-related business development and community service and currently focuses on three main activities: 

  • UpStart Kitchen, which serves as a place for food entrepreneurs to launch and build their dreams
  • Community Meals Program, which utilizes the Kitchen space and member-clients of the Kitchen to provide meals to individuals facing food insecurity 
  • Brigade MKE, which creates an accelerated skills-based career track to get Milwaukee students (ages 14-22) into the workforce earning a livable wage by elevating their potential and their future opportunities with training specific to employment and future careers

Urban Learning Collaborative (formerly Milwaukee Teacher Education Center)

Funding Purpose: Diverse Talent Retention, Education, Training, and Credentials 
Program Name:
Recruitment and Retention of Diverse Educators 
Program Description:
Urban Learning Collaborative’s (ULC) – formerly known as Milwaukee Teacher Education Center (MTEC) – 25-year history is rooted in recruiting diverse talent to join the field of education as a certified teacher. ULC partners with Mount Mary University to offer accelerated, graduate level courses that lead to a Wisconsin Teaching License. ULC programs are specifically designed to remove barriers to entry, implementation, and completion of continuing education opportunities.  
ULC’s mission aligns with the Teacher Training and Recruitment Grant as the mission is to expand access to academic, personal, and professional growth opportunities. ULC fulfills this mission by providing alternative teacher licensure pathways in partnership with Mount Mary University, to increase the number of teachers eligible for a teaching license in the state of Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Community Services, Inc. (WCS)

Funding Purpose: Transportation 
Program Name: Driving to Work 
Program Description: Wisconsin Community Services advocates for justice and community safety, providing innovative opportunities for individuals to overcome adversity. The Center for Driver’s License Recovery & Employability (CDLRE) provides expert case managers and lawyers to help our participants create an individualized driver’s license restoration plan. The attorneys represent the clients in court to make that driver’s license restoration plan a reality. The case managers help participants stay on track with testing requirements, payment plans, and other necessary steps to getting and staying licensed. CDLRE is a partnership between WCS, Legal Action of Wisconsin, Milwaukee Area Technical College, and the City of Milwaukee. Since 2007, these partners worked together to serve more than 13,000 low-income Milwaukee residents and help more than 4,000 individuals obtain their driver’s licenses.


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