State of Wisconsin Funds Urban League
Livable Wage Partnership
Urban League of Greater Madison CEO Dr. Ruben
Anthony (l) and WI Dept. of Workforce
Development Secretary Ray Allen at the ULGM Unity
By Jonathan Gramling

The great summer weather wasn’t the only thing to celebrate on July 25th when the
Urban League of Greater Madison held its annual Unity Picnic. It had also created
some unity with local healthcare providers like UW Health to create a healthcare
readiness training program that will assist low-income individuals to access livable-
wage paying jobs in the growing healthcare sector.

“I am so happy about the fact that we are partnering with the four biggest health care
providers in the region: UW Health, SSM Health, Group Health Cooperative and
UnityPoint Health-Meriter,” said Dr. Ruben Anthony, the Urban League’s CEO. “We
have worked with our healthcare partners and have identified jobs that are in
demand and we have developed training that is relevant and that places people in
jobs. The DWD grant is for $93,387.”

It’s going to be a sizable effort over the next couple of years.

“We plan to train at least 100 low-income job seekers with employment barriers over
the next 18 months,” Anthony said. “Trainees will complete up to 120 hours of
Healthcare Career Readiness training followed by 120-180 hours of either Healthcare
Administration or Medical Scheduler training. The positions that they will be training
for include medical schedulers, health unit clerks, medical receptionists, registrars,
patient services representatives and other healthcare support roles.”

While all of the partners will be putting some in-kind assets into the training program, the program will be fueled by the WI Dept. of Workforce
Development grant.
“Fast Forward funds were created about four years ago in the state budget,” said Ray Allen, DWD’s secretary. “They are dedicated for
Wisconsin employers and new partnerships such as the one that we are doing with the Urban League. The Urban League put in a very strong
request under this grant. It trains people in an emerging area, health care obviously. It directs funding to low-income individuals. And all of
those wages will go up from I believe they start at $15-$22 per hour. They are good family-supporting jobs.  The Urban League is going to do a
great job. They will train about 100 people for 100 jobs.”

Wisconsin’s labor market is experiencing a shortage of individuals trained for the rapidly expanding healthcare sector and so the grant seeks
to tap additional sources of labor to meet the need.

“We’ve got a labor market where Wisconsin is kind of an out-migration state,” Allen said. “We just don’t have the number of trained people in
the current workforce. Our goal is to take people who have traditionally been outside the workforce and train them so that they can have family-
supporting jobs. That’s what this grant will do.”

This training partnership is an excellent example of a public-private partnership creates jobs through the development of customized training
that will allow successful trainees to transition into the healthcare industry. It is a win-win –win partnership for all involved.