The Corner

Ron Johnson’s Joseph Project Expands from Milwaukee to Madison

The Joseph Project — a Milwaukee-area anti-poverty initiative backed by Wisconsin senator Ron Johnson — is set to expand to Madison next month.


The first Madison class of The Joseph Project — and the 14th since the program began in Milwaukee – will meet in October at the Capital City Sanctuary Church of God on Jenifer Street, led by Superintendent Raymond Davis.

Pastor Jerome Smith of the Greater Praise Church of God in Christ, which serves as the operating site for the Milwaukee program, said the Madison program will work with Perry Way Foods, a Johnsonville Sausage subsidiary, and the hope is to also partner with Waukesha-area businesses.

From my profile of the Joseph Project on National Review Online:

After traveling around Wisconsin during his first five years as senator — he was elected in 2010, in the wave of tea-party enthusiasm that brought many new conservative faces to Congress — Johnson realized that despite the high levels of unemployment in metropolitan areas such as Milwaukee and Madison, manufacturers across his state still had thousands of unfilled jobs. And so, seeking to solve both problems at once, Johnson partnered with a Milwaukee-area church to institute the Joseph Project, a program that recruits and trains impoverished people, connects them to potential employers, and supports their subsequent careers.

The program just completed its 13th iteration in Milwaukee, and so far it has connected over 140 people with job interviews; more than 80 of those individuals received subsequent employment offers. Using donated vans, volunteers drive the participants from Milwaukee to their jobs an hour away in Sheboygan and back.

“This program shows that local control and local involvement, as well as a faith-based approach, actually work, and we can provide the pilot to have this grow into something bigger nationally,” Johnson told National Review. “I’m not just doing this because I’m a United States senator. . . . I’m trying to use my position here to highlight a success and provide an example for others to follow.”

With the program’s expansion to Madison, it seems the Joseph Project’s success is indeed catching on.

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