Dane County Executive Joe Parisi on July 14 announced $187,901 will go to 13 school districts and two local organizations to help teenagers and young adults who otherwise could not afford driver’s education an opportunity to earn their licenses. The Sun Prairie Area School District will receive $6,000 from the county for the program.
Parisi started the program in the Madison Metropolitan School District in the summer of 2015, helping 100 young people each year earn their driver’s license without their families having to worry about how to afford the more than $400 price tag of the course. Since then, the program has expanded to include 13 school districts and two local organizations.
“Earning a driver’s license plays a key role in providing the opportunity Dane County’s younger residents need to avoid limitations in employment and economic standing,” said Parisi. “Given the COVID-19 pandemic and the financial impact it has had on countless families across our community, it’s critical we provide ways for those who may not otherwise be able to afford the cost of driver’s education the opportunity to earn their license.”
The school districts of Cambridge, Deerfield, DeForest, Madison, Marshall, McFarland, Middleton/Cross Plains, Monona Grove, Oregon, Sun Prairie, Verona, Waunakee, and Wisconsin Heights, along with the Dane County School Consortium and Operation Fresh Start participate in the partnership.
More than 1,100 young people have joined the program since 2017. 248 students enrolled in the program for the 2020-2021 school year, and 85 of them have already received their license.
County Executive Parisi first launched this program back in 2015 as part his Access to Opportunity initiative to break down barriers to success that too many people face in the community. The initiative’s pilot phase of the driver’s license program included students at Madison East High School and James Madison Memorial High School.
In 2020, Dane County began to partner with Operation Fresh Start to help high school graduates who do not have a driver’s license complete the process. Through this effort, a greater number of young adults will learn how to drive—opening the doors of opportunity to more Dane County residents.
In addition to SPASD, others receiving grants from Dane County include:
Cambridge Area School District ($4,250); Dane County School Consortium ($1,650); Deerfield Community School District ($8,000); DeForest Area School District ($8,000); Madison Metropolitan School District ($50,368); Marshall Joint Public School District ($8,000);
McFarland School District ($13,185); Middleton-Cross Plains School District ($11,000); Monona Grove School District ($5,000); Operation Fresh Start ($47,448); Oregon School District ($5,500); Verona Area School District ($11,000); Waunakee Community School District ($4,500) and Wisconsin Heights School District ($4,000).