Five Million Dollar DOL Grant Will Help Formerly Incarcerated People in Detroit Find Employment
Date:  07-03-2015

Federal, state and city initiative focuses on employment opportunities for youth, veterans, those with disabilities and people with a criminal record
Via City of Detroit:

U.S. Department of Labor Awards $5 Million Grant to Support Job Training and Placement for Detroiters


At a press conference today on the city’s east side, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training for the US Department of Labor, Eric Seleznow, joined Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Michigan Talent Investment agency Director Stephanie Comai to announce a $5 million federal grant that will fund a new Federal-State-City partnership to bolster the city’s workforce development efforts, specifically targeting those who have been most difficult to employ.

The grant will help the City establish a new workforce initiative, which in this initial phase is expected to place 1,500 Detroiters in full-time employment, focusing on veterans, disabled, youth, returning citizens and the long-term unemployed.

“Our success as a city depends on making sure all of our residents have the opportunity to participate in Detroit’s recovery,” Mayor Duggan said. “This grant will allow us to develop new strategies that have never been used before to employ our returning citizens and others and measure our results.”

US Secretary of Labor Tomas E. Perez today officially awarded the grant.

"A principle that has guided me throughout my life is that we all succeed when we all succeed. We cannot afford to ignore the challenges facing our young people today. We have a moral obligation to do all we can to ensure that opportunity is available to all," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. "The grant we are announcing today will offer young people in Detroit, who are at-risk of falling off the economic ladder, a chance to chart a new course, gain job skills and find stable, meaningful careers."

Governor Rick Snyder also voiced his strong support for the new program.

“The state of Michigan is pleased to be a key partner in this initiative,” said Gov. Rick Snyder. “As Detroit continues to grow, more opportunities will become available, and this program will equip residents who face challenges to have opportunities, succeed in the work place and enhance their quality of life. This is the type of city, state, federal government and private-sector collaboration and innovation that will make a meaningful difference.”

The Detroit Employment Solutions, Corp. (DESC) and the State of Michigan, submitted the grant application in partnership to the US Department of Labor. The State is the recipient of the grant and distributes the funds to Detroit, which will administer the program.

“There is a place for everyone in Michigan’s economy, said Stephanie Comai, Director of the Michigan Talent Investment Agency. “This grant will provide a pathway into the workforce for residents who face challenges to employment. I am confident that this initiative will be successful and that it will become a model for communities across the nation.”

New Strategies, Measured Results

Mayor Duggan said the grant will allow Detroit to initiate a major new initiative in job training in placement based on three principles:

1) The City will only train people for jobs that are open and available immediately. If the citizens complete the training, they know there is a job available.

2) Every time an applicant is interviewed and doesn’t get a job, the City will follow up with the employer and find out why the applicant wasn’t hired. The City will then do follow up support or training to help the applicant succeed the next time.

3) The City will partner with the State Department of Corrections in an unprecedented effort to train and prepare returning citizens for jobs upon release from prison. Re-entry programs will be started a year or more before prisoners’ scheduled release dates.

“This approach is something that the city, state or federal government cannot do on our own,” said MDOC Director Heidi Washington. “But working together, we can plan the transition for returning citizens to move into immediate employment and productive lives.”

The new prison based program for returning citizens will be modeled after one pioneered by Deputy Assistant Secretary Seleznow in Montgomery County, Maryland. That program has found jobs for 95% of participating returning citizens upon their release from a correctional facility. The vast majority of those jobs are in the private sector.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for the City, DESC and Detroit Workforce Investment Board to expand programs that are currently successful to include more of our most underserved Detroiters,” said Pamela Moore, DESC President and CEO. “With the concerted focus on hard to employ citizens, the City can make great strides in our efforts to address systemic issues such as the cycle of poverty and crime.”

Leading the effort on the local level will be the DESC, which helps to train and place Detroiters at its three existing centers across Detroit.

Among the other key elements of the new Detroit employment initiative will be:

  • Coordination with the Detroit Workforce Development Council, co-chaired by Strategic Staffing Solutions’ CEO Cynthia J. Pasky and DTE Vice Chairman and Chief Administration Officer Dave Meador. This council of area CEOs has been coordinating initiatives with major employers to create a more robust regional workforce training program and encourage job creation for hard to employ citizens.

  • Coordination with faith based leaders and other community partners that also serve these populations and who can help direct them to the DESC for employment assistance.

  • Creation of a single evaluation model for agencies and its customers that will help determine and address the unique needs of each individual being served by the program to better ensure job placement and sustainable employment.

    Mayor Duggan thanked Secretary Perez, Deputy Assistant Secretary Seleznow and the DOL for its confidence in the City’s plan.

    “We are very thankful to the Department of Labor for recognizing this need in Detroit and trusting our administration to follow through on the commitment to employ Detroiters,” the Mayor said.