16-17 Program Highlights

Pathways, OFS’ core program, continues to thrive, giving youth a life-changing opportunity to get their high school diplomas and gain invaluable work experience. This year, 161 youth participated in Pathways. The work experience, which involves building affordable housing and doing extensive conservation work, is a platform for education, teamwork, training and responsibility.

Highlights from Pathways this past year include the addition of a second year-round Dane County Conservation Crew, allowing us to double our land stewardship efforts in Dane County Parks.  You may have seen one of our conservation crews hard at work in your county parks doing ecological restoration and helping ensure a healthy habitat for years to come.

Also, under the new Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, OFS was selected as the primary provider for Out-of-School Youth in our region.  This funding has helped OFS redesign and strengthen our approach to assisting young people, especially those with significant barriers to employment, in obtaining high-quality jobs and careers.  This new grant provides access to resources such as paid internships and on-the-job training opportunities, as well as an increased coordination between workforce development programs and career pathway opportunities.


  • 57 Hart Road, Sun Prairie-completed
  • 727 Robin Drive, Sun Prairie-completed
  • 715 Robin Drive, Sun Prairie-in progress
  • 3828 E. Washington Avenue (WPHD rehab project)-in progress
  • 1801 Gilbert Road (WPHD rehab project)-in progress


Number of miles of trails created and/or improved on public lands: 23.25

Average age of Pathways enrollee: 19
19.5% Female, 80.5% Male
161 Pathways youth served 10/1/2016 – 9/30/2017

Graduate Crew is an OFS program for those young people who show real promise and interest in the trades. This full-time, hire-for-service crew works on residential, commercial, and other construction projects in the community. OFS Grad Crew received another Fast Forward grant from the Department of Workforce Development and Operation Fresh Start will continue to partner with J.H. Findorff & Son to have Grad Crew youth shadow a worksite for one week out of the quarter. Graduate Crew leads to apprenticeships for youth, as well as exposure to many of the subcontractors and roles needed to bring a project to fruition.

Average rate of pay at placement: $16.93/hour
Retention rate in apprenticeships: 86%

Our Options Program is the only program in Madison that proactively reengages young adults, ages 18 to 24, in their high school education. Options seeks out young people who fell through the cracks of the public education system and helps them see a way forward to a brighter future and a career. This year we

  • Engaged 72 young adults in the Options Program
  • Reengaged 51 of those young adults in high school credential programing

Strive continues to focus specifically on youth ages 17 – 21 years of age that have recently graduated from high school, have their diploma, HSED or GED. The worksite activities include helping to build the future home of Operation Fresh Start, in addition to working alongside other OFS crews on a variety of different projects when needed.

This year’s cohort contained 28 participants and 18 successful completions.  As the project continues to grow over time, we aim to provide our participants with a variety of resources to help obtain and maintain self-sufficiency.  We do that by meeting with community and partner organizations to assist these young people with developing and implementing their career plans, whether those included additional training, employment or post-secondary education.


  • 15,000 meals served (breakfast and lunch)
  • 217 participant visits to the health office
  • Through our partnership with Construct U (YWCA) and Foundations (Urban League of Greater Madison), the following certifications occurred:
    27 OSHA, 28 CPR/First Aid, 13 Fall Protection, 26 Flagger, 17 Forklift