The Joseph Project Timeline

In the many years of traveling around Wisconsin, I have yet to visit a manufacturing company that can find enough people to meet their hiring needs, but you look at neighborhoods in Milwaukee and still see high rates of unemployment. That's why we started The Joseph Project. We saw a need for making the connection between people who are genuinely seeking opportunity and the opportunities that exist around the state. This project is designed for those who want to turn their lives around and experience the dignity of being able to provide for themselves and their families. Participants who have completed the program are earning good wages that allow them to buy cars, stay current paying household bills, and deposit savings in the bank.

--- Senator Ron Johnson


  • The Joseph Project is inspired by Robert L. Woodson Sr.’s book, “The Triumphs of Joseph: How Todays Community Healers Are Reviving Our Streets and Neighborhoods,” about successful community-based initiatives.

  • Sen. Johnson and Pastor Jerome Smith Sr. of Greater Praise Church of God in Christ in Milwaukee co-found the Joseph Project in September 2015.

  • Sen. Johnson’s staff partners with Pastor Smith and other church pastors to host week-long class sessions teaching job-seekers the “essential employability skills” that help participants excel in job interviews and begin their steps up the career ladder. 

  • Participants who complete the program are guaranteed a job interview with employers who are hiring for entry-level full-time jobs earning good wages that allow them to secure stable housing, buy cars, stay current paying household bills, and begin saving. 

  • "Pastor Jerome Smith has been called home by his Heavenly Father.” In April 2021, Sen. Johnson continues the Joseph Project, honoring the late Pastor Smith’s vision to transform lives, one person at a time. 


Traveling around Wisconsin, Sen Johnson sees a need for making the connection between people who are genuinely seeking opportunity and the opportunities that exist around the state.



Sen. Johnson and his staff work collaboratively with Pastor Jerome Smith of Greater Praise Church of God in Christ in Milwaukee to start the Joseph Project.


The Fifth Joseph Project class is held in Milwaukee in February

Staff host week-long class sessions teaching job-seekers the “soft skills” that help participants in job interviews and in their beginning steps on the career ladder.


Joseph Project expands to Appleton, Sheboygan, and Madison. 100th Wisconsinite finds employment through Joseph Project



Sheboygan Chamber of Commerce recognized the JP

“Thank you Sheboygan Chamber of Commerce for recognizing The Joseph Project. We’re helping connect people with jobs.”  Sen. Johnson

TMJ4 discusses The Joseph Project's work preparing and working with folks in Milwaukee to apply for jobs in the surrounding areas:

Classes are held on communication, conflict resolution, time management, personal finance and goal setting.


President Trump visits Wisconsin with a focus on jobs as part of his Executive Order on Apprenticeship and Workforce of Tomorrow Initiatives. The White House invites Pastor Smith to attend a roundtable at Waukesha County Technical College.

We're here today to talk about the dignity of work and the greatness of the American worker -- and also loving the work you do. I just toured the classrooms and I must say they arent your normal lecture halls, but in a certain way, they’re far more beautiful. You learn incredible skills like welding, automotive repair, and machine tool operations. And I looked at the machines and I'll tell you, what they have is incredible. And the knowledge to operate them is very, very, very amazing.”

– President Trump

“I have witnessed formerly incarcerated individuals transform their lives when given work opportunities."

– Sen. Johnson

First House of Corrections (Milwaukee County) Class


50th Joseph Project class held and 400th participant

Joseph Project expands to Chippewa Falls, WI with class 51

Stand Together Foundation releases video on The Joseph Project (11/5/2018)

First Step Act is signed into law (12/21/2018)

On December 21, 2018, President Trump signed into law the First Step Act (FSA) of 2018 (P.L. 115- 391). The act was the culmination of a bi-partisan effort to improve criminal justice outcomes, as well as to reduce the size of the federal prison population while also creating mechanisms to maintain public safety.

Read the Press Release


68th Joseph Project class in Wausau:

Working in partnership with The Cross of Wausau, staff for Sen. Johnson lead Joseph Project participants through four days of classes focusing on essential skills necessary for being successful on the job.

Director Tischner from the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency for the District of Columbia (CSOSA) visits the Joseph Project in Milwaukee in May 2019.

Tischner was impressed and encouraged by the Joseph Project’s innovative approach to connecting disadvantaged individuals to meaningful and well-paying jobs and decided to take action to do the same by creating CSOSA’S Credible Messenger Fellowship Program.

Read the Article

77th and 78th JP class held in Milwaukee and Wausau

Congratulations to all these September 2019 graduates!


2019 – A Year in Review:

19 Joseph Project classes held, 155 projected graduates, and 105 participants placed in new jobs.  and a yearly retention rate of 61%.


Senator Johnson hosted Special Advisor to the President Jared Kushner and Deputy Assistant to the President Ja'Ron Smith in Milwaukee for a roundtable featuring Joseph Project participants.

First Step Act Participants Join Joseph Project