Wisconsin Fresh Start/AmeriCorps Program





The Idea

Fresh Start Building ProjectMany young people, ages 17-24, have dropped out of school (or are considering it) and lack the skills to find and keep a good job. Renewal’s AmeriCorps/Wisconsin Fresh Start program provides these at-risk youth with education, employment skills, career direction, paid work and service experience—which leads to self-sufficiency. AmeriCorps/Wisconsin Fresh Start has been highly successful in Dane County for more than 30 years; Renewal Unlimited became a AmeriCorps/Wisconsin Fresh Start provider in 1999, having provided similar services since 1977.

The Program

With an emphasis on educational and vocational services, AmeriCorps/Wisconsin Fresh Start focuses on three objectives:

  • Increased job and employability skills (construction, mock interviews, visits to employment agencies, shopping for interview clothes, etc.)
  • Successful completion of HSED or High School Diploma
  • Community involvement

Computer StationThe AmeriCorps/Wisconsin Fresh Start members are given individualized tutoring by a teacher for a portion of their day to complete their GED/HSED.  The remaining time is spent at the work site constructing or rehabilitating a single-family home which is in turn sold to a low to moderate income family. One home per crew is completed each year. A site supervisor acts as a mentor while sharing construction and job skills to the members as well as everyday life skills. Through the AmeriCorps Program, participants are paid and eligible for a significant grant award toward further education or training. The AmeriCorps/Wisconsin Fresh Start Program is based on the Bond Theory of helping youth connect and trust an adult in their lives. For some youth, this could be the first time in their life they have formed such relationships.

All Wisconsin Fresh Start/AmeriCorps members receive:

  • Basic skills assessment
  • Individual tutoring for HSED
  • Job readiness & retention training
  • Career and financial planning
  • Referral to supportive services as needed

The Members

  • Ages 17 -24, male or female
  • Must be fully ambulatory, being able to perform vigorous daily work at a construction site
  • Has dropped out of high school, is in imminent danger of doing so, or is referred for behavioral or other reasons.

The Benefits

  • Daily Stipend
  • Upon completion of the program (350-900 hours, plus HSED or High School Diploma for some), a member is eligible for an educational grant from AmeriCorps
  • Breakfast and lunch is provided on workdays at no cost to the members
  • Individualized tutoring for HSED/H.S. Diploma
  • Covered by Workers’ Compensation and Social Security
  • A “fresh start” towards successful adulthood!




Wisconsin Fresh Start/AmeriCorps
is sponsored in part by
Portage Area United Way
United Way
Wisconsin Fresh Start/AmeriCorps
receives funds from
Wisconsin Fresh Start/AmeriCorps
is affiliated

Click here to begin the application process online
or download the full application below.

Special Section: What’s A GED and HSED?

A GED (General Educational Development) requires completing tests in the areas of mathematics, reading, writing, science and social studies. Several miscellaneous areas of study are also required for the HSED (High School Equivalency Diploma). Wisconsin Fresh Start helps prepare participants for these test requirements. Students also need to complete units in health and civics if they have not done so as part of their previous high school curriculum.

We also provide employability skills, independent living skills, resumé development, money management, etc., all as part of the Fresh Start curriculum.

For More Information…

Renewal Unlimited, Inc.
AmeriCorps/Wisconsin Fresh Start
2900 Red Fox Run
Portage, WI 53901

The information provided here does not reflect a complete description of programs or eligibility requirements. Guidelines for eligibility may vary by grant and by year. Please contact the program administrator for complete details.