Detroit Workforce Agency receives $1.1M DOL grant for East Side ‘Youthbuild’ Center

City of Detroit workforce agency Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation (DESC) has been awarded a $1.1M grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to provide further support for Detroit youth that are disconnected from employment or education, particularly those on the city’s east side, as well as in Highland Park and Hamtramck.
The grant, part of the federal ‘Youthbuild’ initiative, will provide services to over 60 youth who are not working and not in school, providing them with education, occupational skills training, leadership development and post-program placement.
DESC, the Michigan Works Agency for Detroit, will operate the grant jointly with SEMCA, which covers Monroe County and all Wayne County outside Detroit on behalf of Michigan Works.
There is already one Youthbuild facility on the west side of the city at SER Metro said DESC President and CEO Nicole Sherard-Freeman. “In a city of 139 square miles, more youth need access to the opportunities available through Youthbuild. This new grant gives us the ability to expand this important work to include more young Detroiters.”
DESC and SEMCA will partner with numerous other organizations to provide services through the new facility, including Southwest Solutions, the Michigan AFLCIO Human Resources Development Inc., and the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council.
SER Metro Detroit, which has operated a Youthbuild facility for 10 years, applied for a renewal of its existing grant at the same time. Both DESC and SER Metro were supportive of each other’s applications, and both were funded.
“There are tremendous opportunities today in Detroit and they are only going to expand as our city rebuilds,” said Mayor Mike Duggan. “The most important thing we need to do is to make sure Detroit residents, especially our youth, have the training they need to take advantage of these opportunities and be a part of our city’s comeback.”
Three consecutive eight-month cohorts will be run at the new location, providing services to 20-24 youth each over the two-year grant term. Each cohort will have a 12-month period of follow-up supportive services and tracking of participant outcomes.
“The need for on-ramps into the skilled trades has never been clearer” said Don O’Connell, retired former Executive Director of Operating Engineers Local 324, who collaborated with DESC on the grant application. “By providing youth with the opportunity to learn not only the academic skills they need to succeed but also the trade skills as well, we provide them with the foundation they need to overcome the barriers they face and build well-paying careers.”
The 8-month curriculum includes a requirement to attain a G.E.D. and transition into either full-time employment, an apprenticeship or post-secondary education.
“For many youth who left school without a diploma, the prospects for a job that pays a living wage are dramatically reduced,” said Hector Hernandez, Executive Director of Southwest Economic Solutions. “The ability to provide some of our most at-risk youth with a single location where they can finish their education and obtain a GED while also learning a range of trade skills, will be life-changing for many of them.”
Southwest Solutions will provide a house for rehab for each cohort as well as case management. The Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council will provide industry expertise for the curriculum, along with the AFLCIO, which will also provide case management.
The process for selecting a location for the new facility is now underway.
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