United Way of the Lakeshore Receives $230,000 Grant from the DTE Foundation to Support Youth Employment and Training Opportunities in Muskegon and West Central Michigan

Community News |Jul 7, 2020|3 min read

(MUSKEGON, MI) – Youth employment and training is a critical need to prepare our youth for future jobs and careers. This summer is the 9th year of the program in our area, with significant changes to the program due to COVID 19. Programs partners West Michigan Works! (WMW), Michigan Works! West Central (WCMW), Youth Solutions, Community enCompass and Boys and Girls Club of the Muskegon Lakeshore have made many changes to the program to keep youth safe while still providing a meaningful program.


Rather than the traditional Work Experience, defined as an employer/employee relationship, WMW will be focusing on a virtual program that will expose youth to engaging career exploration, planning for life after high school (or next steps if the youth is already out of high school), and financial literacy to help youth gain the skills they need to manage their money. The program will be a 6-week experience and include orientation for youth and parents and virtual tours and interaction with area employers. Work placement experiences will be available at Community enCompass and Boys and Girls Club of the Muskegon Lakeshore. Michigan Works! West Central manages the program for the youth in the northern region of our service area including Newaygo, Oceana and Lake counties. Youth will receive training in Leave No Trace Principles, MIOSHA and OSHA, Workplace Safety, Scaffold and Harness Safety and Hand Tool and Ladder Safety. The youth will work as part of the YouthWorks Program in the National Forest and other parks and natural restoration projects as well as a virtual training component. A total of 50-70 youth (16-24) are expected to engage in the summer youth experience program over the next 6 weeks.


This fall, an additional 40-50 youth will be engaged in a year-long life skills and career path preparedness program at Muskegon Heights Academy. Funding from the grant will support Youth Solutions to provide the Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates (JMG) transformational services, which focus on soft skills training that employers look for in their workforce.  Statewide, 72% of 2018 JMG graduates were hired into jobs identified as part of Michigan’s high demand industries. In addition to the 11th and 12th graders traditionally served at Muskegon Heights Academy, this evidence-based program plans to expand into 9th and 10th grade this fall. “We are thrilled to see this programming working with our younger aged youth as well”, said Christine Robere, President/CEO of United Way of the Lakeshore. United Way of the Lakeshore’s bold goal is to help 10,000 more working families meet their basic needs by 2025. Ensuring that this next generation have the skills they need to be successful in a job is key to reaching this goal.”


“The DTE Foundation is excited to partner with United Way, Michigan Works and the other collaborative partners to bring this important job training programming to support our youth. All of us can remember a summer job experience that taught us so much to prepare us for the world of work, especially arriving on time, listening, asking questions, dressing appropriately and proper interaction and communications with others” said Lynette Dowler, president of the DTE Foundation. “These skills are critical for youth to be successful in a job and it’s important to learn them as early as possible.”