MON AM News: Community housing project providing training, renovations; Report explores perspectives among women in the workforce

— Milwaukee’s Amani Housing Project is providing construction training for local residents while renovating and repairing homes in the area. 

Since the neighborhood revitalization effort launched in 2019, 16 homes have received $190,000 in repairs, with upgrades including new furnaces, windows and security doors. And dozens of people have been trained in construction skills, exceeding initial workforce development goals. That’s according to a Wisconsin Policy Forum report outlining the ongoing effort, which involves a number of community partners. 

Aside from improving the quality of housing on the block and boosting homeownership, the program also aims to help people of color and those with criminal records surmount obstacles to employment in construction and skilled trades. Though the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed down the project, WPF says “considerable progress” has been made toward reaching its goals. 

Three of the 38 parcels on the pilot block were vacant foreclosed homes when the project started. Ezekiel CDC, lead general contractor and construction training program manager for the project, has purchased and renovated one of those houses, using it as a training center and headquarters. The group plans to sell that home for $50,000 to a low-income homebuyer once the pilot is completed. 

Another project partner, the Milwaukee Christian Center, purchased the other two vacant homes for $1 each and is continuing renovations. Partners plan to sell these homes to other low-income buyers in summer 2022, the report shows. 

The project has exceeded its initial goal of training 30 people in construction, having provided training to 35 individuals while certifying six trainees in lead abatement. Six others completed a pre-apprenticeship electrician program by working on the project. Report authors note that “many of these individuals” were connected with the pilot through the Milwaukee County House of Corrections’ Huber work release program, while others were recruited from the neighborhood. 

“Several project leaders noted that the life experiences of Ezekiel’s staff were instrumental in helping the organization connect with neighborhood residents and trainees,” they wrote. 

The report highlights challenges with getting community buy-in for the project. Initial efforts to connect with community members met with distrust, as some residents were reluctant to “open up their homes and finances to scrutiny for fear of creating more problems than solutions.” It took time for community leaders to build trust with locals in order to get the pilot off the ground. 

“Project leaders have experienced a number of challenges but have made substantial progress toward the pilot’s stated goals,” report authors wrote. “Housing conditions have improved on the pilot block, while new workers with barriers to employment have been trained in construction.” 

The WPF report was commissioned by the Northwestern Mutual Foundation. Northwestern Mutual is one of the main project partners and a significant source of funding for the project. Other partners include the Dominican Center, a neighborhood association called Amani United, LISC Milwaukee and Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee. 

See the full report: 

— A recent report from Milwaukee-based Kane Communications Group finds women considering leaving their job point to feeling undervalued as the top cause. 

Drawing on survey results from 980 women in Wisconsin, the report shows other factors causing women to consider quitting include low pay, high stress, communications issues with employers and unfavorable hours. Results were gathered over telephone and text messaging by Santiago Global Consulting on behalf of Kane Communications Group. 

“As a female CEO in Wisconsin of a company that advises organizations on how to be employers of choice, I wanted to understand what’s on the minds of our state’s working women,” Kimberly Kane, company president and CEO, said in a statement. 

The findings suggest women in the state are considering quitting at a higher rate than the national average. Fifty percent of women said they’re considering quitting “constantly, often, or sometimes,” which is higher than the national average of 40 percent shown in the earlier McKinsey & Company’s 2021 Women in the Workplace report. Study authors say the Kane report survey included questions modeled after this national survey. 

Other research has found that women left the U.S. workforce during the pandemic at higher rates than men and are returning to work more slowly. 

Christina Thor, Wisconsin director of the women’s advocacy group 9to5, says the report’s finding’s show “there is still work to be done.” Thirty-six percent of respondents have at least one child under the age of 18, and 81 percent of that number said their jobs don’t offer childcare support. 

“9to5’s own data underscores one of the Kane Insights findings: a big reason why working women in Wisconsin are considering quitting is lack of support from employers regarding equitable and affordable childcare and paid family and medical leave,” Thor said in a statement. 

The report also highlights generational differences among women in the state’s workforce. Forty-six percent of respondents aged 18-29 said they feel their employers don’t value women as much as men, which is 20 percent higher than for respondents over age 30. And respondents in this younger age range were twice as likely than the average to strongly disagree that their employer cares about their mental health. 

See the full survey results: 

— Following approval by federal officials, the state Department of Health Services is backing the recommendation that everyone aged 16 or older get a booster dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine if eligible. 

The booster dose of this vaccine can be administered six months after the recipient received the second Pfizer shot. Federal officials authorized this move after the CDC recently recommended that all adults get a booster dose at least six months after completing the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine series, or two months after the Johnson & Johnson single dose. 

DHS reports more than 1.2 million additional or booster doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the state. The number of new daily vaccinations in Wisconsin has risen in recent months, largely due to an increase in the number of boosters. 

“The approval of the Pfizer vaccine booster dose for 16- and 17-year-olds provides another opportunity for more Wisconsinites to get additional protection from COVID-19,” DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake said in the release. “The COVID-19 booster doses are important tools as we work to slow the spread of COVID-19 and its variants.” 

The DHS site shows 59.3 percent of the state’s population has gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 56.4 percent has completed the vaccine series. CDC data show 71.5 percent of the U.S. population has received at least one dose and 60.5 percent is fully vaccinated. 

See the release: 

— Researchers in Madison say a specialized bandage they’re developing can help wounds heal four times faster than normal. 

Through a tiny device called a nanogenerator, the bandage converts some energy from body movements like breathing into electric pulses, stimulating an electrode to create an electric field around the wound. Prior research has shown that electric fields can help with wound recovery, though scientists don’t have a complete understanding of how this works.

The bandage was first created nearly three years ago by engineering and medical researchers at UW-Madison, and the latest findings were published recently in the Journal of Nanobiotechnology. 

Xudong Wang, a professor of materials science and engineering at the university, developed the bandage, while UW School of Medicine and Public Health Assistant Professor of Surgery Dr. Angela Gibson conducted efficacy testing. 

“When we tested it on wounded human skin that we’d grafted onto a mouse, the wound healed completely in seven days compared to the typical 30 days using a standard dressing,” Gibson said in a release.

Since development began in 2018, Wang and his team have decreased the size of the bandage and upgraded aspects of its design. They say despite the small technical components, the bandage is easy to make and consists of inexpensive materials. 

“We made improvements in the bandage between our original study and this one by incorporating the nanogenerator into the bandage itself, and by weaving the material to better mimic the way skin stretches so it could capture more of the energy from subtle body movements,” Wang said. 

Gibson says the research team is hopeful that the bandage “will lead to significant improvements in treatment” for millions of people. After conducting testing on larger animals, they plan to begin clinical trials on the bandage “in the next few years.” 

See the full study: 

— Since launching in 2012, gener8tor has worked with more than 800 entrepreneurs through its accelerator programs, the organization recently announced. 

According to a release, the nationally ranked startup accelerator has helped startups raise more than $800 million in follow-on financing and create 7,400 jobs.

Originally starting in Madison, Milwaukee, Beloit and Northeast Wisconsin, the program has since expanded to serve entrepreneurs in more than 30 cities across the country and abroad.

Gener8tor also recently announced the promotion of Gisela Ortega, who will be the group’s new director of startup community. She was previously the operations manager for gBETA, gener8tor’s growth program for early-stage businesses. 

See more at Madison Startups: 

— will host an in-person buffet luncheon and panel discussion Tuesday in Madison, featuring a panel of experts discussing the impact of worker activism on the state’s economy. 

The panel includes Stephanie Bloomingdale, president of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO; Kristine Hillmer, president and CEO of the Wisconsin Restaurant Association; and Michael Childers, professor in the Wisconsin School of Business at UW-Madison. 

Register for the event here: 


# UW Regents OK out-of-state, graduate tuition increases

# Rural hospitals report losing 2 percent of workers over COVID-19 vaccine mandates

# Husco plans to double revenue, but Trump tariffs engender plant expansion outside U.S.: CEO Ramirez



– State Corn Promotion Board elections underway


– UW regents extend ACT, SAT exemptions for 2 more years

– Test-optional admissions extended at UW-Madison, other UW campuses through 2024-25

– Charter school planned at the Wisconsin International Academy campus


– 400 gallons of oil spilled into Menomonee River in Milwaukee

– Komatsu Mining deploys booms to contain waste-oil spill in local rivers

– Snow place like home: Wisconsin braces for its first winter storm of the season

– Poll finds people are willing to pay to protect the Great Lakes amid rising water quality concerns


– What’s the scoop on the origin of the Culver’s franchise?


– State makes $30 million investment in food pantry network


– Ag Day at the Capitol slated for January 26

– Bipartisan Assembly bill would give UW System authority over tuition reciprocity with Minnesota


– After the flood: We Energies employees start returning to HQ after $62M in repairs

– Cobalt Partners has multi-faceted plan to relocate public facilities, develop pocket neighborhood in Fox Point


– Real estate division of Marcus Investments acquires another retail center in Michigan


– Applications for $100M from state for broadband expansion are open


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

WMC Foundation: Michelle Grajkowski promoted to senior director of Wisconsin Business World

Madison Children’s Museum: Hosts free family COVID-19 vaccination clinic on Monday, December 13