News Release

Published on Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Western Technical College recently received a federal grant that will allow the college to expand an adult education program at the La Crosse County Jail.

The $58,000 Adult Education and Family Literacy grant was awarded through the Wisconsin Technical College System office, and will be used to expand a program that was started in 1999.

Through the program, inmates at the jail can prepare for the General Education Development (GED) or High School Equivalency Diploma (HSED) exams, improve basic literacy skills, as well as prepare for post-secondary education and training after leaving the jail.

“The goal of this project is to enhance the participants’ ability to succeed outside of jail and to reduce recidivism,” said Keith Valiquette, dean of Instructional Support Services at Western. “We are very pleased to be able to expand this program.”

According to a 2007 survey, 57 percent of La Crosse County Jail inmates had not completed high school, and 33 percent had serious literacy deficiencies.

“It’s great that we are able to use these federal dollars to help address the needs of La Crosse inmates who will eventually be returning to live and work in our community,” said Mike Kiefer, Jail Program Coordinator at the La Crosse County Jail.

An additional contribution by the County will allow the current part-time instructor position to become full-time. The educational and program needs of the inmates are also being incorporated into the architectural designs of the jail addition and remodeling project.

“The support of Sheriff Steve Helgeson, Captain Doris Daggett, Mike Kiefer, and the La Crosse County Board has been critical to the success of this effort,” added Valiquette. “Their facility and financial contributions really made it possible for us to receive this federal funding.”

For more information about programs and services at Western Technical College, call 608.785.9200 or visit the Web site at