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Gov. Evers puts $1M into summer job and activities programs in Milwaukee to reduce violence

The governor's office has put $100M into crime reduction in Milwaukee, half of it in law enforcement

A sign advertises a job fair in Wausau, May 19, 2022.
A sign advertises a job fair in Wausau, May 19, 2022. New data from the state show Wisconsin’s unemployment rate remained at a historic low in April. Rob Mentzer/WPR

The Evers administration announced Tuesday that it’s putting just over $1 million into job training, summer employment and activities for Milwaukee youth.

Half the funding is going toward the city’s “Earn and Learn” program, which will provide work-based learning, enrichment and mentorship. Milwaukee Public Schools are also chipping in $200,000 to provide transportation and support for the program.

Employ Milwaukee, which is helping to run that program, is also receiving $135,224 for a summer program it’s running with the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee to offer paid jobs to 225 kids, both in an existing program for ages 14 and up and a new pilot program for 10- to 15-year-olds.

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“Workforce readiness is multigenerational and the earlier we can prepare and expose our youngsters to constructive employment and life skills training, the greater the chances of long term, enhanced quality of life for them,” Chytania Brown, CEO of Employ Milwaukee, said in a press release announcing the funding.

Studies have shown that summer employment for teens doesn’t necessarily reduce violent crime among that age group during the programs. But long term, it reduces arrests and convictions among kids who are considered “high risk” because they’ve been arrested before participating in the program.

The Milwaukee Public Library’s Connected Learning for Teens program is getting the remaining funding. The library has “makerspaces” for youth to learn job skills, as well as programs for reading, creative development and other activities. The $400,000 will also help pay for five summer teen facilitators, three year-round teen interns and three part-time year-round facilitator roles.

The summer jobs funding is another piece of the nearly $100 million the governor’s office has put into violence prevention in Milwaukee after the city has seen an increase in gun deaths and reckless driving. More than half of the money has gone to law enforcement — $50 million for local and tribal law enforcement agencies and for the public defender and assistant district attorney’s office to get through a backlog of criminal cases, plus $2.2 million to help Milwaukee Police address crime and violence. Another $45 million has gone to violence prevention efforts and victim support, with $8 million specifically for the city’s Office of Violence Prevention.

The city office closed applications last month for grants of $25,000-50,000 for organizations supporting youth and their families in priority neighborhoods hit hardest by violence.