APPLETON, Wis. — Kaleb Schad said the offer on the table is hope.

But this offer — from Goodwill NCW, Fox Valley Technical College and Rawhide — is far more than just a feeling of expectation and desire. It comes complete with every step one could think of to help Fox Valley residents learn a new career and begin a new life.

What You Need To Know

  • Career EXCELerate is a job training program designed to help individuals who continue to experience economic suffering and mental health struggles from the pandemic.

  • The program is free for those accepted and it guarantees participants employment upon graduation

  • For more information, you can email:, or visit their website, here

“These people, if this wasn’t here, not a lot of hope in their future, right?” said Schad, director of Strategy and Marketing at Rawhide. “And if you don’t have hope, you just spiral into this despair. And so this program is key to giving hope to a bunch of people.”

For many, the pandemic isn’t over. Economic suffering and mental health struggles continue. That is why, with the help of a $6.5 million grant to Goodwill NCW from the Wisconsin Workforce Innovation Grant Program, the three Fox Valley organizations are starting Career EXCELerate.

It’s a program that will offer training in eight areas where workers are in high demand — manufacturing, construction, educational health services and truck driving and maintenance. There is no cost for those accepted into the program and participants are guaranteed employment upon graduation.

“I think this collaboration is just so strong,” said Jennie Moore, vice president of Mission Services at Goodwill NCW. “We have Fox Valley Tech, who has experience in education. We have Rawhide, who has experience in trauma-informed care. And then Goodwill, and at the core of what we do, is help people build their job skills in order to lead to sustained employment.

“So we can come and provide wraparound case management support, and help people achieve their goals with the assistance of the other two agencies who are doing what they do best. So it’s really collaborating three key partners in this community to help people develop a career path and reach employment.”

A key part of the program is removing barriers so students can have a clear path to success.

“So when we were putting this together, our vision was to take away every excuse for failure,” Schad said. “So they will have day care support, they can get transportation support, they can get housing support if they need it, food support; whatever that is.”

That also includes mental health support.

“Most importantly, we’re going to have that Rawhide navigator in the classroom,” Schad said. “So that is an individual who’s a mental health expert — gone to school, has their degree and mental health experience. And quickly building relationships with individuals with trauma in their background. Then helping them through decision-making and building new skills to manage things like depression or anxiety. Or some of those panic attacks when they’re setting in, or lack of confidence, or lack of motivation where they just don’t want to show up that day."

“That navigator is going to be the one to help keep pushing them through the program, guiding them through the program.”

Those support services will continue for the entirety of training and the first year of employment. The program will start in January.

“Each of the career pathways is kept around eight to 12 participants, for each cohort,” Schad said. “Now there will be a cohort each semester. Most of the training programs are about one to two semesters long. We’re anticipating over the lifetime of the grant to serve about 450 students across all the pathways.”

The EXCELerate program is an example of seeing a need and finding a solution.

“This is a tremendous source of pride for all three organizations,” said Andy Rinke, Dean of Transportation Technologies at Fox Valley Technical College.

“Because we were able to bring such large, multifaceted organizations together. And to truly play to each of our strengths to be able to help people, and to be able to do what we do best.”


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