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Labor and Economic Opportunity

$2 million investment will introduce underrepresented youth to employment, career and educational opportunities

Young Professionals initiative offers meaningful introduction to the world of work, including career exploration, job skills and earned income.

April 12, 2021

Media Contact: Mike Murray, 517-275-1820

LANSING, Mich.-The Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) today announced the recipients of grants totaling $2 million to provide underrepresented young adults with a meaningful introduction to the world of work, including virtual career exploration and preparation activities, jobs skills and earned income.

"This $2 million investment in underrepresented young adult Michiganders will empower them to pursue meaningful opportunities," said Governor Whitmer. "I am grateful to LEO for fulfilling our commitment to Michiganders pursuing their futures, especially those who are vulnerable, ensuring they can excel in the classroom or on a rewarding career path."

The Young Professionals grants have been awarded to the state's Michigan Works! agencies, which were selected through a Request for Proposal process. The 16 agencies will receive awards ranging from $70,000 to $250,000 to support the development and/or enhancement of a Young Professionals employment initiative.

"We're excited about Young Professionals, because it takes an innovative approach to preparing our future workforce for high-demand, high-paying jobs," said LEO Acting Director Susan Corbin. "We're also grateful for the grant recipients who expressed an increased focus on supporting underserved populations, including those with disabilities, making this initiative an even more effective tool in expanding career and educational opportunities for young adults."

The Young Professionals initiative is designed to reduce youth unemployment and place young adults, ages 14-24, on the right path to achieve lifelong economic self-sufficiency. The initiative supports young adults who are struggling on the path to obtain employment by exposing them to multiple career and educational opportunities, such as entering a Registered Apprenticeship program, earning a college degree or certificate, and obtaining sustainable employment.

"We piloted this initiative last year as a summer youth employment program, but we recognized a year-round program would provide greater flexibility and benefits to all participants, so that's what we've done," said Stephanie Beckhorn, Director of LEO's Office of Employment and Training. "Many of the grantees have also pivoted to virtual career exploration and preparation activities and have increased their focus on identifying virtual placements with employers.

"We're proud this program has evolved to meet youth where they are to better prepare them for a brighter future," Beckhorn said.

Grant awards include Michigan Works! Berrien/Cass/Van Buren ($83,031); Capital Area Michigan Works! ($135,131); Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation ($250,000); GST Michigan Works! ($129,869); Great Lakes Bay Michigan Works! ($160,000); Macomb-St. Clair Michigan Works! ($100,000); Michigan Works! Northeast Consortium ($70,000); Northwest Michigan Works! ($100,000); Oakland County Michigan Works! ($200,000); Michigan Works! Region 7B Consortium ($73,206); Michigan Works! Southeast Consortium ($110,000); Southeast Michigan Community Alliance Michigan Works! ($125,000); Michigan Works! Southwest ($150,000); Upper Peninsula Michigan Works! ($100,000); Michigan Works! West Central ($72,438); and West Michigan Works! ($141,325).

Michigan Works! provides career preparation, employment opportunities and supportive services throughout the state. These agencies play a crucial role in the recruitment of employers, with a focus on regionally in-demand industries such as construction, healthcare, information technology and manufacturing.

"Michigan Works! knows how these work experiences can be life-changing. Nearly 45% of Michigan high school students are economically disadvantaged and could greatly benefit from preparation for and entry into employment," said Terri Weems, President of Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation, one of the state's 16 Michigan Works! agencies. "This reduces the impact of high-risk factors, including poverty, while providing an opportunity to earn valuable income for themselves and their families."

The Young Professionals program aligns with Michigan's Sixty by 30 goal to increase the number of working-age adults with a skill certificate or college degree to 60 percent by 2030.

More information about the program is available through any of the state's Michigan Works! agencies. To contact the nearest Michigan Works! Service Center, call 800-285-WORKS (9675) or visit