Long term unemployed could get jobs through new Detroit program
Detroiters who have been unemployed for at least six months will soon have access to a new city program aimed at bringing them back into the workforce.
Mayor Mike Duggan announced contracts with 18 local organizations that will offer education and training programs, social support and job placement services starting Jan. 31. The “Jump Start initiative” is funded with $40 million in federal pandemic relief, which includes financial incentives for organizations that hit performance targets and a six-month “scholarship” payment for Detroiters who obtain employment through the program.
City officials said there’s enough funding for 1,200 residents to complete the program, which includes four tracks: Adult basic education, high school or GED completion, occupational training and obtaining employment. Not all Detroiters will need to complete each track. Nicole Sherard-Freeman, the city’s executive director of workforce development, said flexibility was built into the program.
“We think 1,200 is a good start, it is by no means the whole of Detroiters who need this kind of support,” Sherard-Freeman said. “We know there are thousands more and we hope we get this right so we can further get to it.”
Detroit’s unemployment rate was last recorded in November 2022 at 6.4% by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. An estimated 15,469 Detroit residents don’t have jobs, but that figure does not include people who are not actively seeking jobs. Jump Start is specifically designed for people who have given up on finding employment, Sherard-Freeman said.
Partner organizations can receive up to $2,200 for each participant who makes it through one track, with a maximum of $8,800 in incentives. Organizations can earn incentives for when participants reach milestones like completing six weeks of training or improving their reading level.
Duggan said the city will also offer program graduates $600 per month for six months, on top of their job salary, to help cover child care, transportation and other basic needs while they start their careers.
“If you’ve been unemployed for six months, you are very likely facing significant barriers that left you unemployed,” Duggan said. “Whether it is a childcare challenge, whether (it is a) you don’t have transportation challenge, whether you can’t read, whether you’ve got housing insecurity – there’s a lot of different reasons.”
Reintegrating Detroiters who are released from prison is another goal of Jump Start. The city has supported efforts to expunge criminal records to help returning citizens obtain jobs.
Cornelius Sims-Webb spent virtually all of his adult life in prison. He was released two years ago to find himself in a radically changed world.
“They put you out there and tell you to figure life out,” said Sims-Webb, 45. “I’m still learning every day.”
Sims-Webb obtained his GED while in prison, but after returning from prison he said he was shocked by the advancement of technology and initially felt uncomfortable driving a car. He obtained a commercial drivers license through Detroit at Work, the city’s workforce development program. Sims-Webb also mentors youth with Detroit Friends and Family, a violence intervention group, contracted for Jump Start.
Duggan said the White House has its eyes on Detroit. Gene Sperling, coordinator of American Rescue Plan Act funding and a senior Biden administration advisor from Ann Arbor, was on hand for Friday’s announcement. He called Duggan the “favorite mayor” of President Joe Biden.
Detroit’s program could become a national model if successful, Sperling said. The mayor said city officials will closely track the number of program graduates and other data to gauge the program’s effectiveness.
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, left, and Biden administration advisor Gene Sperling announce a new workforce development program at a Jan. 27, 2023, press conference. (BridgeDetroit photo by Malachi Barrett)
“Nobody has tried this,” Duggan said. “If we move 1,200 families from poverty and long-term unemployment to good-paying jobs, how much different is this city? If we do that, I’ll deal with long-term funding. It is not going to be hard. We’re going to have to prove we can do it.”
Council President Mary Sheffield said programs funded through the federal American Rescue Plan Act show the importance of participating in elections.
“I want to remind our millennials and those who often tell me that our votes don’t count, that this is an example of our votes actually counting,” Sheffield said during the announcement. “It actually matters, because we see the money coming from the federal government now to the local level.”
The mayor is holding a community address at 7 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 30 to explain how residents can apply for Jump Start and access $100 million in Detroit at Work scholarships and training programs funded by the American Rescue Plan Act. The presentation will be streamed on the city’s website and social media platforms.
The 18 organizations selected for Jump Start include:
- International Institute of Metro Detroit, serving all City Council districts
- St. Vincent & Sarah Fisher Center, serving all districts
- Focus Hope, serving all districts
- Fit4Life Health and Fitness, serving City Council districts 1 and 2
- The Open Door COGIC, serving district 3
- TMI Detroit Inc., serving district 3
- Family Assistance for Renaissance Men, serving districts 3, 4, 5
- Alkebu Lan Village, serving districts 3, 4, 5
- Emerging Industries Training Institute, serving districts 3, 4, 6
- The Black Bottom Group, serving district 4
- Urge Imprint – Detroit Friends and Family, serving districts 4 and 5
- Church of the Messiah Housing, serving district 5
- Teach Empower Achieve (T.E.A.), serving district 5
- Center for Employment Opportunities, serving district 5
- Spectrum Human Services Inc., serving district 5
- Detroit Hispanic Development Corp., serving district 6
- Southwest Detroit Business Association, serving district 6
- The People’s Action, serving districts 6 and 7
First published at https%3A%2F%2Fwww.bridgedetroit.com%2Flong-term-unemployedt-jobs-detroit-program%2F
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