I am guessing that you’ve heard something about the building boom that is happening in Milwaukee. Currently, there are $7.2 billion dollars in construction projects planned or underway. Already employers are desperate for qualified workers and in our city there are thousands of adults on the employment sidelines. We have an imperative and the once-in-a-generation chance to fix this classic mismatch of supply and demand. There are opportunities being offered and there are opportunities needed, and we have plan for a new High School Equivalency Diploma program that will help connect people to these possibilities.

Thanks to an amazing $100,000 grant from a new philanthropy collaborative called Impact100 Greater Milwaukee, our work to create a timely, new competency-based high school equivalent diploma program can move forward. If you’re not familiar, competency-based learning is an approach where:

     • Students advance upon mastery of skills

     • Assessment is meaningful

     • Outcomes include application and creation of knowledge, along with the development of important skills and dispositions

The traditional path to a diploma for an adult who dropped out of high school was a GED. This testing process changed in 2014 and is much more complex than ever before. Therefore, the current GED takes an adult bread-winner longer to complete. For some adults, this means a major slowdown or even a barrier to getting a critical credential and a major obstacle to family supporting wages.

But, there is an alternative path to earn this key credential in Wisconsin. The PI 5.09 is the state’s name for this competency-based path to a High School Equivalency Diploma or HSED. 


We are creating a PI 5.09 program with a great nonprofit partner with a big name, the Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership/Building Industry Group Skilled Trades Employment Program or, WRTP/BIG STEP for short. Their mission is to link individuals to careers in construction and manufacturing. With our shared expertise, we will design and implement an innovative learning experience for adults. This one-of-a-kind program in our region will prepare people for manufacturing and construction jobs while earning their HSED. Graduates of this program will have options. They will be well prepared to walk through the doors of WRTP/ BIG STEP and start pre-apprenticeship training. They will be ready to enroll in a career pathway program at MATC. They will be ready to move their lives forward, be partners in their children’s education, and enjoy all the happiness, self-worth, and satisfaction of being a contributing member of our community. 
This program is poised to help solve three community problems:

1. Fill open jobs with residents from our community, keeping resources in the local economy. 

2. Use this building boom to get undereducated adults on their way to productive and sustaining employment, linking them to jobs that can pay double the wage of someone without a high school diploma.

3. Improve educational outcomes for the children of our adult students. This happens when parents share the magic and excitement of learning with their kids back at home. 

Stay tuned to our newsletter and other communications for updates on our progress on this exciting project! Thank you Impact100 Greater Milwaukee for selecting this project for your inaugural year grant! We are humbled and honored to earn you support. 

Mary Tobin, a board member since 2011 and Treasurer from 2012-2014, took the reins from Dave Hanson as our new Board President. Dave Hanson continues to provide guidance and wisdom in his capacity as Past President. Becky Grandone, Director of Finance, is moving on to start her own nonprofit consulting practice. We are so grateful for her leadership over the last two years!

Ginger Duiven

Executive Director