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Ellie’s Updates: Wisconsin Promise Participants

Promise Stories

As more Promise kids and families take advantage of opportunities and access Promise services, we’re beginning to hear more and more feedback from participants whose lives are changing as a result.  Here are just a few of the responses we’ve received from families this month:

What’s Your Promise Story?  Are you a family member, teen, counselor, employer, legislator, or someone else connected to Wisconsin Promise?  Tell us how Promise has impacted you!


Promise Services Summary

The Impact of Wisconsin Promise Depends on Making a Difference in the Lives of all Wisconsin Promise Youth and Families

The more impact we can have with more youth and their family members, the more we will be able to demonstrate how Wisconsin Promise Services and Supports can help to increase participants’ education, employment, and financial self-sufficiency.

Currently, 593 Wisconsin Promise family members and 481 youth already have/had paid work, and 94% of participants have received Promise DVR activity or contact within the last 30 days. Following are some other interesting statistics about Wisconsin Promise participants.

Employment Goals

  • 593 family members and 481 Wisconsin Promise youth already have/had paid work
  • Families members: 760 total jobs; 546 active jobs with an average of 30 hours per week and $12.43/hr
  • Youth: 832 total jobs; 218 active jobs with an average 19 hours per week at an average of $8.72/hr

Promise Training and Services Participation

Promise Youth and Families participated in a variety of opportunities available through Promise including:

  • 444 met with Work Incentives Benefits Specialist (74 referrals)
  • 326 Youth have completed Social Skills Training (Skills to Pay the Bills) (127 referrals)
  • 413 Promise Families met with a Financial Coach (Make Your Money Talk) (130 referrals)
  • 445 Promise Families have met with a Family Advocate (325 referrals)
  • 180 Promise Youth have savings accounts (172 referrals)
  • 239 Youth have completed the Self-Advocacy Modules (329 referrals)
  • 166 Youth have completed the Health Promotion Modules (329 referrals)
  • 32 Education Attainment for Promise Family Member; 80 youth have graduated high school

Promise Youth and Families Connect with VR Services

Staying connected with their Promise Counselor or meeting with a local family advocate is an important part of discovering community resources and connections to achieve individual work and school goals.

  • 94% with Promise DVR activity or contact within the last 30 days
  • 92% completed Promise DVR Eligibility within 60 days
  • 88% with at least one face to face meeting (all with a pre-IPE engagement rating)
  • 876 Individual Plans for Employment (IPE) Written
    • 67% completed within 90 days of eligibility
    • 79% with continued engagement after IPE (861 with post-IPE engagement rating)
  • 871 Family Resource Teams Identified
  • 398 Family Services Plans Written
Required Promise Services

Optional Promise Services

  • Other Services to help youth/family members obtain their employment and education goals
  • Every youth enrolled in Promise identifies a Resource Team comprised of at minimum: the youth, their family members, their PROMISE DVR and Counselor, and someone from their school.
  • Youth and families help to identify important team members to help support them in their educational and career planning.
  • Youth involved in long-term care, mental health programs, foster care, and juvenile justice likely include their case managers on the team.
  • Work Incentives Benefits Specialists and other service providers will also likely be team members.
  • Team members do not need to be paid or professionals and can be part of formal or informal supports.
  • Teams may have joint meetings or may communicate through other venues to align all plans and respective activities in support of the youth’s goals.
  • Increased household income, including family members
  • Higher educational attainment for youth and family
  • Lifelong wage earners
  • Less reliance on public benefits

Potential Cost Savings from Wisconsin Promise:

  • If 100 (10%) Wisconsin Promise youth no longer use SSI cash benefits, those public savings will have funded the entire 5-year Wisconsin Promise grant ($32.5 million).
  • If 54 (5.4%) Wisconsin Promise youth are employed with health insurance through their employer, the public health care savings will have funded the entire 5-year Wisconsin Promise grant ($32.5 million).

Promise Enrollment

We exceeded our enrollment goal of 2,000 and now have 2,024 individuals enrolled in Promise!

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Actual enrollment

Program Usual services Total % of target achieved
1018* 1006 2024 100%

*6 youth have since withdrawn from Wisconsin Promise Services. (One youth recently re-enrolled in Promise.)

DVR Counselors report the following reasons youth enroll in Promise

  • Youth think Promise is a really good thing
  • Parents have said they don’t want kids or themselves to rely on SSI
  • One youth said he/she wants to get a job and needs help
  • Dad happy to have a resource (youth does not have IEP or 504)
  • iPad
  • Youth wants to be in a leadership position in his/her future career
  • Parent couldn’t believe this was available to the family
  • Looking forward for help with navigating different benefit systems and programs
  • Something available for this age cohort (most transition services are for older youth)

Reported by Youth

  • It will help me be a better me.
  • I want to get a job to get extra money and this would be good for me because this place deals with people like me.
  • It’s a program to help me become someone and follow my dreams.
  • It will give me the opportunity to gain skills and not be limited by my disability.
  • I want to get a job that I like and that will help me in the road ahead.
  • I want to save money for a car and learn to do stuff for myself more.
  • I need help learning life skills so I can stand on my own. I have trauma that seems to get in the way.
  • I find the program good for me.
  • For the help to find work and help me in school.
  • My disability.
  • My mom enrolled me.
  • To get help in entering the work environment and accomplish career goals.
  • It will help me be a better me.
  • It will be helpful when I transition from school to work.
  • I like the benefits, information, and help they provide to us students.
  • I felt it was a good fit for me and I could use the training and help because my mom can only help so much and its not the same when mom helps me and because of my disabilities it would be hard for me to sometimes meet jobs expectations and they would fire me and I would go through a lot of jobs. I feel Promise can help me with all of that.
  • My social workers said it was a good idea.
  • I was looking for help to achieve my goals in life and my parents needed some guidance.
  • I would like to do more things and I would like to start working. I feel that I’m at the right age to start working. I would like to experience having a job and being able to do things on my own without my parents help.
  • My ma thinks it’s a good thing for me.
  • I want to work with animals.
  • Because I want help in finding a job.
  • I like the benefits, information, and help they provide to us students.
  • Need help with my future.
  • I enrolled in the Promise Program to get help with school and beyond and to get help with getting out in the world and living and surviving on my own.
  • I believe that I am capable of having a job and proving to my family that my mental and emotional illnesses will not render me incapable of doing something I enjoy, working with others, and also making money.
  • To help me find a job and to help with other resources.
  • To help me move forward after high school.
  • My mom thought [Promise] would help me a lot and get a nice job/make money.
  • I enrolled in Promise because it made me feel like I actually have a chance to find work and to be treated fairly at work.
  • They are helping with my job and money and college.
  • I think it will help me with a better chance in life.
  • To help me get a better life and be independent.
  • I think it will help me get into a good college and help me be a better person. It will help me get through high school so I can walk across the stage with my diploma with honors.
  • I need a job that pays good to buy the things I need and want.
  • To help me with school and to help me find a great paying job and to continue with the job so I don’t have to depend on benefits.
  • I felt like it could help me with problems.
  • I feel that it can help me in reaching my goals.
  • To help me and my family live better.
  • I want to find a job with enough pay to help pay for my mom’s house and I want to finish school and get a good job.
  • So I can get help in school and in finding a job.
  • Because I want to get a head start on my life.
  • So I can improve in school and succeed in life.
  • They are helping with my job and money and college.
  • To have help with finding work.
  • I want to get help with household chores and get a good job that I do well.
  • It will help me and my dad said that is good for me and I wanted the tablet.
  • It sounded like it would help me and it has so far.
  • I qualified and needed help.
  • To hopefully help me figure out what the real world is like.
  • To become a Nintendo president, so I can be rich and have a house, wife and children and live in Florida.
  • I want to have better social skills, in the “real world.” I also want to be a positive person to be around and channel my anger in the right way.
  • I need help trying to figure out what comes after school.
  • My family and I are interested in any resources available to help me become a productive person and feel good about myself.
  • It helps me a lot and that’s why I am happy because I am in Wisconsin Promise.

Reported by Family Members

  • My daughter currently needs and will continue to need support as she transitions to adulthood.
  • My child needs help with work ethics.
  • It sounded like a great opportunity for my son to experience.
  • My daughter needs help with these skills.
  • To help my son find a job / career that he likes and can sustain him financially throughout his life…and help him become more social…and learn how to interview well…what steps he needs to take to become independent…financial / budget money…
  • I felt this program would be beneficial to my daughter and help her with her social skills. I also felt this program would benefit her in high school and the challenges that may come with finding a job.
  • Because I want to see my son be able to get a job and hold a job and speak up for himself. I would like him to learn money management and self control.
  • It sounded like something that would really help my son in life.
  • I need help finding a job.
  • I want my son to develop a work ethic and realize that with the right supports he is capable of earning money by working. He needs to be active and have something to look forward to every day. He needs to know he’s good at something and make connections with the community he lives in.
  • It looked like an awesome opportunity.
  • My son has a chance to overcome his disabilities and really be someone. With the right mentor, there is hope. He is unique. There are many unique people like him, that end up on the streets because they need someone to watch over them, but have the ability to function highly under the right circumstances.
  • I heard of the program, and I know the program will help with finding him a job.
  • I feel it will benefit my family in finding good jobs that will support them financially.
  • To help my son. My son needs help securing a promising future, through hard work and dedication.
  • To teach my daughter job skills.
  • To help my kids be successful.
  • I need help for my son and I. We never had help. I want my son to be able to work and be independent as possible.
  • I want my daughter to be able to get the help in becoming independent and getting the help she needs on finding employment and going to school.
  • To help my child to further her future.
  • I think it will help him learn what he needs to do in the future to help him be successful and find work that he can adapt to.
  • Because I heard about the program. I know the program will help with finding him a job.
  • Because I wanted to get my child the help that I cannot give her.
  • I enjoy working with Promise because they have helped my son find and keep a job. They have lots of resources.
  • For a better future for my son.
  • My reason for enrolling my son was that he needs a positive direction to advance forward in his life.
  • Because I’m ready to work.
  • She took it upon herself by opening the mail she got from Stout. Then asked me for help filling out the papers.
  • I think this program will help me and my family and I think it’s a good program for me and my family and we can learn from this Promise Program.
  • Promise believes in my youth’s future.
  • To help [my child] get prepared for her future and utilize the benefits to land a great education and eventual employment that will ensure her success in adulthood.
  • I want my son to have opportunities to succeed in life.
  • To help my son with meeting school and life goals and learning to be more independent with his income.
  • Because the program will help families work with schools and help find jobs.
  • Because they can help my son and me out.
  • I feel like any help for my son can get is help for his future.
  • To help the youth become more independent.
  • Program looked like it could help my family.
  • I need help with my boys, and this program seemed like it would be a great fit.
  • I think Wisconsin Promise will help my son become a productive member of society, feel good about himself, and set goals and fulfill them.
  • I wanted to make a difference in my son’s life and others like him.
  • I am interested in helping set goals for my son for his future.
  • I liked the opportunity offered to my son to help him find suitable employment and help with school.
  • It is an opportunity I could not pass down.
  • For my son to learn how to depend on himself and be responsible.
  • We need support.
  • To give my boys a better chance in life.
  • To help find my daughter a job. It was hard for her to find one on her own due to her disability.
  • I want my son to have help with graduating.
  • I feel it would benefit my son and hopefully can change/improve our way of life by helping us access help/programs we are unaware of.
  • Because it sounded like a great opportunity for our family as a whole.
  • Help youth and family with life goals.
  • To help youth prepare for her future and utilize the benefits to land a great education and eventually employment that will ensure her success in adulthood.
  • To help my daughter for her future.
  • I wanted help for my daughter.
  • Thought it could benefit my son.
  • Both my son and daughter want to take care of themselves.
  • It is a great opportunity for my son as well as myself.
  • To give my child every opportunity to succeed.
  • To help my son to find the right path to employment, independent life, happiness, friends.
  • My son needs help with his self-esteem, behavior, to keep him out of trouble and find work that can help him with a mentor and to keep a job.
  • It is an amazing opportunity for strong transition services and training my son will not receive from school.
  • Research is needed. We have lived too long without real help, not financial, but help that can help my son grow as an adult, help that he won’t take from family but from outsiders. Possibly someone will learn something from my son’s disability that will encourage help to someone else.
  • I feel that this program will be beneficial to him and help him prepare for life and also further his schooling or education.
  • I’m not sure what happens after my son graduates from high school.
  • It was an opportunity to get a head start on job skills.
  • I felt like there wasn’t very much support available to families with children with disabilities. I want to help my son secure a job that he enjoys and can keep outside of school. I’ve always felt like there wasn’t much support because he doesn’t fit into certain disability categories. I’m hoping to help him secure his place in society and promising future.

Promise Participants – Demographics

Who are the Youth and Families participating in Wisconsin Promise?

Find out more by reading some of the general backgrounds and characteristics of participants.

WDA Promise Services Usual Services Total
1 – Southeast 102 109 211
2 – Milwaukee 445 406 851
3 – WOW 27 23 50
4 – Fox Valley 60 76 136
5 – Bay Area 76 79 155
6 – North Central 42 39 81
7 – Northwest 19 25 44
8 – West Central 56 50 106
9 – Western 37 31 68
10 – South Central 104 110 214
11 – Southwest 40 58 108
Total 1018 1006 2024
Primary Disability Type Count Percent
Developmental 599 30%
Mental Health/Behavioral 681 34%
Other 496 25%
Long-term Illness 82 4%
Sensory 50 2%
Physical / Mobility 63 3%
Head Injury / Traumatic Brain Injury 16 1%
No Response 37 2%
Black
49%
White, non-Hispanic
36%
Hispanic
10%
American Indian / AK / HI / Pacific Islander, non-Hispanic
3%
Other / Unknown, non-Hispanic
1%
Asian, non-Hispanic
1%
Male
67%
Female
33%
English
95%
Spanish
4%
Other
1%
Most youth and families participating in Promise are living in poverty with the majority of participants reporting household annual incomes of less than $10,000.

Between $10,000 and $24,000
37%
<$10,000
33%
>=$25,000
16%
No Response
14%

More about Promise…

Wisconsin is one of six sites nationwide participating in the U.S. Department of Education’s demonstration of a promising path to success for youth receiving SSI. Youth and families in Wisconsin Promise are starting to identify their educational and employment goals. They are starting to receive services to help them meet these goals. These services are outlined in a table that lists a menu of services that are available through Wisconsin Promise.

Stay tuned for more blog updates on Wisconsin Promise!

About the Author

Photo of Ellie Hartman

Ellie Hartman, PhD

Ellie is the Wisconsin Promise Project Manager. That means she makes sure all of many moving pieces and parts come together! More about Ellie
Email Ellie | More Blog Articles by Ellie

Comments 4

  1. On behalf of the Governor’s Committee for People with Disabilities, great job Ellie and the Promise Grant team! Thanks to the participants for signing up and good luck to all of you!

    1. Thanks to the Governor’s Committee for People with Disabilities for being such a great partner and serving as the advisory committee for Wisconsin Promise!

  2. Congratulations to you and your team . The research from the program will be very helpful to all of us and and the people you have helped will benefit through their lifetime. This has been a wonderful program for us to have in Wisconsin.

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