UMOS, a non-profit advocacy organization, provides programs and services which improve the employment, educational, health and housing opportunities of under-served populations.
UMOS began as a single-focused, single state, migrant and seasonal farm worker serving agency only. Today, UMOS offers diverse programs and services to diverse populations with a diverse staff. Currently, UMOS operates 40+ programs with more than $25 million grant and performance-based contracts from federal, state, and local funding sources.
Programs and services provided by UMOS are divided into three major categories: workforce development, child development, and social services, which include farm labor housing, Teen Tobacco Prevention, HIV prevention services, domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking supportive services, home energy assistance, food pantry and after school programs . In addition to these programs, UMOS sponsors and organizes a number of cultural and community events in Wisconsin.
The UMOS corporate offices are located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. UMOS programs operate throughout the state of Wisconsin, as well as in Minnesota Missouri, and Texas, along with a housing consortium in an eight-state area.
Nearly fifty years ago, the Episcopal Church, the Roman Catholic Church and Migrant Ministry of the Wisconsin Council of Churches each offered various services to migrants in Wisconsin. In 1965, these church groups joined to form UMOS, Inc., a 501(c)(3), tax-exempt, private non-profit corporation in the State of Wisconsin. At that time, UMOS' main emphasis was on the provision of temporary childcare service to migrant families in a four (4) county area during the summer months. Funding was received from the federal government from the Office of Economic Opportunity to serve migrants in accordance with Title III-B of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964.
In its second year of operation, UMOS expanded its target area to twelve counties offering child care and adult basic education. During its third year, five (5) more counties were added and from its fourth year in 1969 through 1976, the target area grew to thirty two counties. In 1978 another 15 counties were added, making the target area a total of 47 counties which remain the primary target area of the program. While all of the UMOS offices are located within this geographical area of forty seven counties, services as needed, are extended to other areas of the state through outreach.
In 1973, the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) was passed. Funding for migrant farmworker programs was transferred from the Office of Economic Opportunity to the U.S. Department of Labor. Under CETA, the emphasis of migrant programs changed from supportive services for migrant families to employment and training programs preparing migrants for jobs outside the migrant stream. In 1983, CETA was replaced by Congress with the Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA). In 1994, UMOS expanded its employment and training programs as the lead fiscal agent for the Wisconsin Department of Health and Social Services' Job Opportunities and Basic Skills (JOBS) program on Milwaukee's south side. JOBS was the employment and training program funded through the federal welfare program, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), in order to assist welfare families to become self-sufficient through employment.
Another important effort was undertaken in 1991 when the organization leased, renovated, and made available an old migrant labor camp as temporary shelter for workers in Waushara County. In 1994, UMOS received Farmers Home Administration funds to purchase and renovate the labor camp and construct 16 new units to be made available as seasonal housing for migrant workers. The Aurora Center now receives national recognition as a model development program as the first of its kind to use Farmer's Home Administration funds to provide emergency housing and seasonal rental housing. A modular Head Start unit was built and opened at the Aurora Center in the summer of 1996. The Montello Center, a replication of the Aurora model, provides 8 units available for rental housing, as well as a Head Start program.
Currently, both as a grantee under the Department of Health and Human Services, and a designee of Texas Migrant Council, UMOS operates Migrant Head Start and Daycare programs. Migrant Head Start and Daycare programs provide early childhood development services and daycare services to children of migrant worker families. UMOS operates Migrant Head Start and Daycare programs in Wisconsin, Missouri, and Kansas.
The UMOS focus on employment and training has continued as the funding base grew larger and UMOS became the operator of a "one-stop" job center. In 1997, UMOS received a three-year $51 million dollar contract from the State of Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) to operate the welfare reform program Wisconsin Works (W-2) in one of six regions in Milwaukee County. In 2000, UMOS was awarded another region, bringing the total of its W-2 contracts to approximately $80 million (two-year contracts).
Other important UMOS workforce development initiatives have included grants from the Department of Labor's Welfare-to-Work and Workforce Investment Act programs. In 1999, UMOS became a direct grantee of the Department of Labor for the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) 167 program, formerly Title IV, Section 402 of the Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA). This program, also called the National Farmworker Jobs Program, provides employment-related services to migrant and seasonal farmworkers. In 2003, UMOS was awarded a grant to administer the National Farmworker Jobs Program in South Dakota.
In September of 1999, UMOS was awarded a $4,164,320 Welfare-to-Work Competitive grant to provide employment, training, and advancement services to migrant and seasonal farmworkers who travel from Texas to Wisconsin and Minnesota to work in agriculture.
In June, 2001 UMOS opened the Latina Resource Center at 802 West Mitchell Street in Milwaukee. The Resource Center provides domestic violence advocacy and prevention services for women, children, and families.
In addition to the variety of programs and services UMOS offers, the agency sponsors six corporate events. These events have continued to grow in popularity and attendance over the years. UMOS Corporate Events include:
- Latina Resource Center Fundraiser
- Annual Corporate Luncheon
- Mexican Independence Day Parade and Festival
- Hispanic Awards Banquet
- Breakfast with Santa
The annual Breakfast with Santa, in cooperation with McDonald's Corporation, serves more than 1,000 children and parents each year.