FRI AM News: Texting program readying students for college; WisBusiness: The Podcast with Sean Marschke, president of the Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association

— With the state’s business community and other leaders clamoring for more skilled workers, school districts around the state are working to ensure more students are ready for college. 

Thirteen public school districts are participating in a new program that uses text reminders to highlight critical deadlines and tasks for college enrollment. 

The Text Steps project, funded by Madison-based nonprofit Ascendium Education Group, was first piloted by the Madison Metropolitan School District in 2015. 

According to Ascendium, 40 percent of high school graduates from low-income households who are accepted to college fail to enroll in the fall. Students are responsible for securing financial aid, arranging housing and other activities, and sometimes they fail to do so. 

Joe O’Brien, program coordinator for the Sheboygan Area School District, notes that most high school students are essentially glued to their phones. 

“Emails tend to get lost, and text messaging has proven to be the most effective way to communicate with students. This allows for the graduates to read the text when they can and respond when they can,” he said. 

Sheboygan’s program sends texts to 140 students through the program, and O’Brien says about 70 percent are actively engaged. 

See more: 

— This week’s episode of “WisBusiness: The Podcast” is with Sean Marschke, president of the Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association and chief of police in Sturtevant. 

He discusses a bill from bipartisan authors that would provide health insurance to the families of police officers killed in the line of duty. The legislation has 91 sponsors, representing about 70 percent of state lawmakers. 

“These legislators are saying, finally this is something we can do to say that we back the badge, that we back first responders in our state, and that we’re going to take care of their families,” Marschke said. 

He says committee hearings are tentatively planned for this fall and said passage by the end of the year would be “a great Christmas present.” 

“We’ll do whatever we can to help it pass,” Marschke said. 

The legislation has been introduced by: Sens. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, and Janet Bewley, D-Mason, as well as Reps. John Spiros, R-Marshfield, and Steve Doyle, D-Onalaska. It’s been introduced before with different funding sources and coverage inclusions, but this version is seeing the strongest support yet. 

“In past bills, a lot of times the ‘how to pay for it’ was a question, and that question still exists today,” Marschke said. “It’s something that I truly leave to the Legislature figuring out how that comes, whether municipalities take care for it and then put in reimbursement, or whether the state takes care of it.” 

He believes lawmakers can come up with the best formula for funding, adding: “It doesn’t really matter who pays for it. It shouldn’t be the families that pay for it.” 

Marschke stresses that providing insurance for the families of fallen officers would be “truly a small fiscal amount.” On average, he says two law enforcement officers die in the line of duty every year in Wisconsin. If passed, the new law wouldn’t apply to unmarried officers, or to spouses of fallen officers that remarry. 

“If you look at the numbers for what this would cost, it’s a drop in the bucket,” he said. 

Listen to the podcast: 

See a full list of podcasts, sponsored by UW-Madison: 

— A Madison-based startup called Curate plans to scale up its operations after closing on a recent $1.65 million funding round. 

The company uses an artificial intelligence platform to comb through meeting minutes, agendas and other public documents that are constantly being created. 

“Curate is an essential tool for businesses and associations to monitor local decisions,” said Taralinda Willis, Curate co-founder and CEO. 

Curate has a product called CurateLOCAL, which is used by businesses and trade groups to keep track of discussions on “hot-button issues and future ordinances,” according to a release. The startup’s CurateBUILD product is meant for general contractors and others in the construction space, and focuses on documents like rezoning requests going before local plan commissions. 

Aside from tracking hundreds of thousands of new documents produced every week, Curate also stores documents from multiple states and years in one central database. Curate’s customers can search through more than five million documents, and that number is always growing. 

The investment round was led by the Idea Fund of La Crosse, with participation from Allos Ventures, a Midwest venture capital firm. Curate has now raised about $2.2 million in VC funds. 

The latest round will support efforts to expand nationally, boosting sales operations and adding outreach to new markets. Funds will also be used to develop the AI platform. 

See the release: 

Listen to a podcast with Dale Willis, one of curate’s co-founders: 

— The state’s unemployment rate inched up to 2.9 percent in June, following two straight months of 2.8 percent unemployment. 

That’s from the latest federal numbers released by the state Department of Workforce Development. Wisconsin’s rate is still below the national unemployment rate of 3.7 percent. 

See the release: 

— A researcher at Marquette University has received a $2.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study stroke rehabilitation. 

Allison Hyngstrom is an associate professor and chair of the Physical Therapy Department in the College of Health Sciences at Marquette University. As principal investigator, Hyngstrom will work with Matthew Durand, an assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Their five-year study is titled “Ischemic Conditioning and Improved Motor Function Post Stroke.” It focuses on various types of exercise training for patients recovering from a stroke. Ischemic conditioning involves temporarily restricting blood flow to muscles affected by a stroke. 

According to a release, the researchers will be measuring physical variables during the rehabilitation process, such as walking speed, leg muscle strength and respiration. That will give them an indication of the efficacy of their treatment. 

“We are continually looking for interventions that will help improve patient function after stroke,” Hyngstrom said. “Current therapies only result in modest improvements in walking speed and function. This intervention has the potential to further increase functional gains more rapidly.”

Clinical trials will be held at the Neuro Recovery Clinic at Marquette. 

See the release: 

— Northwestern Mutual has announced $1.7 million in new grants for a neighborhood revitalization effort taking place in Milwaukee. 

The funding will go to local nonprofits and other groups providing services such as housing support, food programs and youth engagement. 

Eric Christophersen, president of the Northwestern Mutual Foundation, says partnering with groups like these is critical to understanding challenges facing city residents. 

See the release: 


# Frac sand producer in Wisconsin declares bankruptcy

# Wisconsin lost 2,300 private sector jobs in June

# Milwaukee-area businesses await specific opportunities for DNC

# 11 rural hospitals in Wisconsin stopped delivering babies in past decade, report says



– Clark County looking for hosts for 2022 Farm Tech Days

– Wisconsin farm is first to receive new water stewardship certification


– Bucks to review 14 downtown hotel proposals, hope to break ground after DNC

– On the level: Mitich helps developers with ins-and-outs of opportunity zones


– Northwestern Mutual’s annual meeting expected to bring 11,000 visitors to Milwaukee

– Wisconsin unemployment ticks up to 2.9% in June


– West Madison ag station planning horticulture Field Day

– UW-Eau Claire program focuses on supporting students who were homeless, in foster care


– Downtown Employee Appreciation Week starts Monday


– Two Bartolotta restaurants named among 100 Most Scenic Restaurants in America

– Kari Auringer has Wisconsin roots but makes California wine


– West Allis behavioral health hospital nets city approval

– A dozen rural hospitals in Wisconsin are delivering fewer babies, report says

– 11 rural hospitals in Wisconsin stopped delivering babies in past decade, report says


– Haribo names exec to oversee Wisconsin plant


– Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness nears fundraising goal with boost from Mary Burke


– GOP senators urge DOT secretary to use budget funds for roads

– Republican leader seeks override of road-funding veto


– HSA buys more land next to planned 100-acre business park in Mount Pleasant

– Milwaukee real estate execs question Housing Authority’s high-rise plan


– Wanaki Golf Course to shut down after this season

– 150-acre Wanaki Golf Course property’s future unknown beyond planned closure

– The Giannis effect: How Antetokounmpo is having an economic impact on Milwaukee


– Evers Administration unveils $75M grant program for local transportation projects


– Doug La Follette: While you’re not looking, Trump is dismantling environmental protections


<i>See these and other press releases: </i>

Curate: Funding press release

Dept. of Workforce Development: Wisconsin adds 11,800 total non-farm, 11,200 private-sector jobs over year

Wisconsin Better Business Bureau: Driveway Paving Schemes