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First full Career EXCELerate cohort poised to enter WI workforce

Supported by a WI Workforce Innovation Grant, students earn free certificates to launch high-demand careers


On March 19, Career EXCELerate Wisconsin celebrated more than 30 students who earned educational certificates through the collaborative new program operated in partnership with Goodwill of North Central Wisconsin (NCW), Fox Valley Technical College and Rawhide Youth Services. The program began in summer 2022 with support from a Workforce Innovation Grant from the state of Wisconsin.

“Career EXCELerate brings an innovative approach to the table for Wisconsin jobseekers and employers. The program leverages the expertise of our three partnering organizations for individuals who have goals to build their skills and jumpstart or grow in their careers,” Chris Hess President and CEO at Goodwill NCW said. “Our combined expertise means we built a program to serve the whole person. We believe this is why we are seeing high completion rates as students successfully earn their certificates and pursue their dreams. We are energized by the work being done with our partners to address challenges facing our communities.”

Career EXCELerate is a comprehensive career-training program offered at no cost to individuals who want to launch a lasting career but are struggling and would benefit from individualized support to advance in their profession, enter a career or return to the workforce. The main purpose of the program is twofold: To support individuals as they seek high-demand careers in specific areas of study and create a pipeline of job seekers who have the credentials to fill vital roles in Wisconsin.

“Fox Valley Technical College is proud to be part of this groundbreaking collaboration with two premier community partners,” said Dr. Chris Matheny, president of Fox Valley Technical College. “It is especially gratifying that this program benefits individuals who might otherwise be neglected or underserved in the traditional workforce. Local employers will also benefit from this program, knowing they are hiring individuals who have been equipped with the essential technical and personal responsibility skills necessary to be valuable contributors in their workplace.”

The program focuses on providing tracks that have future career development options. Students in the spring 2023 cohort completed certificates in Nursing Assistant, Early Childhood Teacher Aide, Professional Truck Driving, Welding Fundamentals and Woodworking Technician.

“Rawhide couldn’t be more proud of the students finishing their courses and who are about to enter the workforce—many for the very first time in a new career,” Alan Loux, President and CEO at Rawhide Youth Services said. “From the beginning, we knew Career EXCELerate had the potential to change hundreds of lives in our community. This group represents the first of that change. These individuals are overcoming all kinds of challenges life and the pandemic have thrown their way and, together with the good people of Fox Valley Technical College and Goodwill NCW, we’ve been able to help them discover a future they’d never thought possible.”

Thanks to Career EXCELerate, Korie Hansen, a student in the first cohort, completed her Early Childhood Teacher Aide certificate to launch her career. Korie dreams of being a teacher in a 4-year-old kindergarten classroom. Her mental health and finances were big hurdles. “It has given me the confidence to know that I can go back to school and do well. It’s given me a refresher on a lot of vital skills. Confidence is a big one, just knowing that I’ve got the support has been amazing,” Korie said.

The program is enrolling students on an ongoing basis for all career educational certificate programs. Educational tracks offered by Career EXCELerate include:

  • Nursing Assistant
  • Early Childhood Teacher Aide
  • Woodworking Technician
  • Pipe Trades
  • Welding Fundamentals
  • Industrial Manufacturing Technician
  • Professional Truck Driving – Class A and B CDLs
  • Heavy-Duty Vehicle Maintenance – Diesel Technology Assistant

For job seekers: Those interested in earning a certificate through Career EXCELerate can complete the online application form at CareerEXCELerateWI.org.

For local employers: Employers can partner with Career EXCELerate to recruit qualified candidates. Contact [email protected] to learn more.

For referrals: Prospective students can be referred by a local agency, nonprofit, employer or personal contact.


Career EXCELerate Wisconsin, a collaborative program from Goodwill NCW, Fox Valley Technical College and Rawhide Youth Services, offers free job training for high-demand careers, assistance to find a job after completion and supportive resources for the first year of employment, with personalized support throughout the journey. Career EXCELerate is being supported, in whole or in part, by federal award number SLFRP0135 awarded to Goodwill via the Wisconsin Workforce Innovation Grant Program by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Learn more at: CareerEXCELerateWI.org