Local employers are experiencing a significant lack of potential employees with specific skills needed. At the same time, many students are underperforming, often not having needed job skills or motivation to gain post-secondary education. The goal is for students to have a job waiting or to have been accepted to a college program (either for a degree or for a certificate program), in areas where they will have meaningful employment options.

REACH is helping address the gap between employer needs and worker skills, ensuring students will have the tools to be skilled employees or to complete post-secondary programs. This intensive program is a unique program in that it is private-sector led, rather than led by the academic arena. This model is being looked at by other communities in the region and throughout the state.

  • A two-year program at local high schools for selected juniors and seniors. (They apply for the program in the spring of sophomore year, have personal interviews with employers and school staff, and are selected based on the results of their efforts.)
  • There are two pathways – Manufacturing & Building Trades, and Health & Human Services (HHS). Each pathway can take up to 30 students for both junior and senior years.
  • Courses specific to the two paths of REACH have been developed in collaboration with Minnesota State College Southeast (MSCS), local schools, and business partners. Classes allow for dual high school/college credit (post-secondary credits will be articulated through MSCS; after students receive certifications there, credits earned can transfer to other MnSCU schools). All classes are designed to give students hands-on, real-life experiences.
  • REACH has very generous partners, including some private-sector sponsors. While the majority of the program is covered by grants, the financial support of our local businesses is vital to the success of the program.
  • Our goal is to privately raise $75,000 a year for the next three years. Various levels of support are available.
  • Having the private sector have “skin in the game” makes REACH even more attractive to grant funders, showing wide community support and a variety of partners.
  • Each cohort receives relevant safety training in topics such as OSHA, HIPAA.
  • There are a multitude of off-campus experiences, including: monthly job shadowing at local businesses to learn about career opportunities and how to achieve them; career fairs on college campuses; visits to local post-secondary institutions to see programs directly connected to local jobs; and more.
  • In each cohort’s first semester, students will take a Careers & Communications focusing on soft skills, life skills, and personal character. This will be reinforced by regular presentations in the classroom by partner business representatives. Industry-specific speakers will be from organizations where Immersion experiences will occur later in the year.
  • Speakers share information about their organizations, what students can expect to see and learn during their Immersions, and more. They reference the types of skills they look for in employees, allowing students and organizations a chance to connect with each other. This give-and-take allows for reinforcement of the critical nature of being prepared for the workplace.
  • Immersion experiences are a 3-hour, hands-on job shadow opportunity providing students with training and experiences that go beyond academics. They give students (in groups of 3) the chance to see first-hand workplace skills needed in a business/organizational setting.
  • Several employers offer paid spring or summer internships to students, where the students make $11-$13 an hour. Business partners perform mid-term and final evaluations on each student with the REACH Program Manager.
  • For those students who are not placed in internships, MSCS provides hands-on skills specific training (as approved by the Department of Labor) in the summer.
  • BCS (2017, 2018)
  • Benchmark Electronics (2017, 2019)
  • Express Employment Professionals (2019)
  • Fastenal (2017)
  • Merchant’s Bank (2018, 2019)
  • Miller Ingenuity (founding partner) (2017, 2018, 2019)
  • Peerless Industrial Group (2017, 2018, 2019)
  • RTP (2017, 2019)
  • St. Anne’s (2019)
  • Watlow (2019)
  • WinCraft (2017)
  • Xcel Energy (2018, 2019)
  • Blandin Foundation
  • Department of Labor/Youth Skills Training Program
  • Minnesota Chamber of Commerce Foundation
  • Otto Bremer Trust
  • Perkins Educational Consortium
  • Wells Fargo Community Foundation
  • Winona Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation
  • Winona Community Foundation

High Schools:

  • Cotter High School (beginning 2020-2021)
  • Hope Lutheran High School (beginning 2019-20)
  • Lewiston-Altura High School (beginning 2020-2021)
  • Riverway Learning Community (beginning 2019-20)
  • Wabasha-Kellogg High School (beginning 2019-2020)
  • Winona Area Public Schools (Winona Senior High School) (beginning 2017)

Higher Education

  • Minnesota State College Southeast
  • Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota
  • Winona State University

Please join us in becoming part of this exciting community venture! REACH is a win for all – the students, the employers, and the community.