Success stories

Chris Pupp


When Chris Pupp first met with a Northwest Wisconsin CEP Workforce Systems Specialist (WSS), he was a junior at Mellen High School who knew exactly what he wanted to do when he grew up.  Chris said that ever since he was a “little kid” he always wanted to be a Police Officer.  Chris and the WSS talked about applying for college and federal financial aid as well as discussing how CEP and the WIOA Youth Program could help him reach his goals.

Shortly after Chris graduated high school, he was registered for Youth Services and lined up a summer work experience with The City of Mellen Public Works Department. During his time there, he quickly established the standard to which future summer workers will be compared. 

Over the past two years, CEP through the WIOA Youth Program has helped Chris with tuition, mileage assistance, and a second summer work experience. Throughout his education, Chris has maintained a 3.55 GPA and earned over 60 college credits while finding his own way in the world.

Chris will graduate from Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College with an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice Studies on May 19, 2017.  If all goes as planned he will start the Criminal Justice – Law Enforcement Academy in Rice Lake three days later. By the end of September he will be eligible to work as a certified Law Enforcement Officer—and, shortly after that, he will undoubtedly realize his childhood dream of becoming a Police Officer.

Innovation Exit Sign

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) challenges the State to combine resources and create partnerships, look to labor market data and industry research to determine which skills the workforce needs and to focus on the creation of a workforce
that can meet the expectations of the future economy. (State of Wisconsin, 2016)

WIOA is all about partnerships and on January 26, 2017 WITC was able to host the first, of many future, meeting to look at ways to collaborate. Nine agencies were able to participate in this meeting, including the NWWIB, WDWWCW, Workforce Resource, CEP, NWCSA, ICAA, WestCAP, DVR, and WITC.

The first part of the meeting was spent learning about the agencies, including new programming and initiatives. The later part of the meeting was devoted to developing priorities to work on together as partners. The priorities of Basic Skills & Academic Support, Training Programs, Apprenticeships and Field Experiences, and Communications & Referrals emerged as the four main themes. Subcommittees were developed and the full group will meet in summer 2017. 

For questions, please contact Christy Roshell, Career Pathways Coordinator, at WITC:; 715.234.7082 x5419.


Christopher faced many barriers to employment and had been unable to secure a job since he worked constructed in 2008. He moved back to the Superior area from Florida to be near his child and met with a Northwest Wisconsin CEP Workforce System Specialist in June 2016. Christopher was anxious to move forward with his life and be a “productive member of society”. After many conversations and considering all of his options, he decided that truck driving was a career he would be able to do and would also enjoy. Christopher was enrolled in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act’s (WIOA’s) Adult Program. The Workforce System Specialist guided him through the permit process, reciprocity, and the benefits of being a non-traditional student. Since the training was not located on the bus route and his vehicle was undependable, he was also connected with a fellow student for transportation assistance to and from class.

According to Lake Superior College’s website, the next available training was not until November 2016. Christopher’s Workforce System Specialist contacted the instructor and was able to secure him a spot in the August class. He successfully completed the truck driving training and passed of the driving tests at the end of September. In October, he started his career as a truck driver with a full time driving position with Jeff Foster Trucking. Christopher told his Workforce System Specialist he is very grateful for WIOA and CEP’s assistance and said, “We turned his life around!”

Reclaimed Rustic Woodworks accepting the NWWIB Rising Star Award
Rising Star Award being presented at NWWIB's annual meeting


The Northwest Wisconsin Workforce Investment Board, Inc. (NWWIB) recently presented Reclaimed Rustic Woodworks, INC. with the Rising Star award. Jeannie Felix of Reclaimed Rustic Woodworks, INC. accepted the award at the NWWIB’s Annual Meeting at Lakewoods Resort in Cable, WI. The NWWIB is proud to present Reclaimed Rustic Woodworks, INC. with the Rising Star award for outstanding commitment and dedication to building their workforce.

Established in 2008, Reclaimed Rustic Woodworks, INC. in Phillips, WI re-purposes wood from barns and other structures across the United States into handmade specialty furniture. Reclaimed Rustic Woodworks, INC. was founded with a goal to build furniture in the heart of the Midwest with the same care, precision, and eye for quality that our forefathers instilled in the barns that they raised generations before. The entrepreneurs behind Reclaimed Rustic Woodworks, INC. had a vision of saving part of our American Heritage and turning it into something beautiful once again. 

Reclaimed Rustic Woodworks, INC. has demonstrated this past year that they are committed to creating a talented workforce. Through an On-the-Job Training (OJT) program, supported by the NWWIB and Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, Reclaimed Rustic Woodworks, INC. was able to hire two individuals with language barriers—speaking, writing, and understanding very little to no English. Trainers implement training methods done by demonstration and took extra time to work with their new hires. Reclaimed Rustic Woodworks, INC. also coordinated with Northwest Wisconsin CEP on the OJTs and Northcentral Technical College on providing English as a Second Language (ESL) courses to these employees as well as other English learners. Over a year later, both employees are still employed at Reclaimed Rustic Woodworks, INC. Since these initial ESL hires, they have continued to expand their workforce and have brought on another ESL employee as well as other individuals from the community

Stephen standing next to ICAA equipment trailer
Stephen working on a construction project


When Stephen first came to CEP, he was looking for options for better job opportunities. He had just obtained his HSED in Indianhead Community Action Agency’s Wisconsin Fresh Start Program. The Wisconsin Fresh Start provides on-site home construction training, work experience, academic instruction and supportive services for Out-of-School Youth. Young adults in the program receive individualized tutoring to complete a HSED along with receiving on-site new house construction training. The housing sites are the vehicles for employment training and are at the center of a comprehensive program of educational and support services, including career and post-secondary education exploration.

When he met with a CEP Workforce System Specialist, he was working part-time for the Wisconsin Fresh Start Program as a Crew Member for minimum wage and had interest in furthering his education in the construction. Stephen has a love for construction, but has limited physical abilities from being in a near death auto accident. In March 2016, Stephen was upgraded within Indianhead Community Action Agency to be a Home Repair Specialist working 32 hours per week at a starting wage of $14.50 per hour with an opportunity to have health insurance benefits. Through the WIOA On-the-Job-Training (OJT) Upgrade Program, Stephen was able to receive training on the job to help him continue to build the skills he needs to succeed in a career in the construction industry.

One of Stephen’s co-workers said, "He is my right hand man. I couldn’t be any happier to have such a wonderful hard working young man work with me."