Supports Focus: HOPE programs and drives Detroit forward
We would like to extend a thank you to Flint’s Charles Stewart Mott Foundation for their recent, generous grant of $750,000. The Foundation has long supported Focus: HOPE and this new grant will help fund operations as we transition under a new strategic plan and leadership.
Thanks to many generous donors like the Mott Foundation, we have been able to continue our operations and give hundreds of disadvantaged individuals access to education and opportunities. It is truly an incredible experience to see the transformation of our students after completing our Workforce Development and Education programs; the benefits to seniors and low-income mothers who receive food and basic needs through our Food Program, and the community revitalization made possible by our HOPE Village Initiative.
As we continue to create innovative new programs for the 21st century, the grant from the Mott Foundation will help us realign our workforce development efforts, examine the needs of those we serve and align those needs with our programming. Our top priorities continue to be adapting our Workforce Development and Education programs for 21st century relevancy and sustainability; establishing our HOPE Village Initiative as a national model for urban revitalization and leveraging our Food Program to provide additional services.
“With the Mott Foundation’s support over the last 26 years, we have trained and placed nearly 12,000 talented individuals since our beginning into good jobs, and will continue to seek innovative workforce solutions for the 21st century,” said William F. Jones Jr., CEO, Focus: HOPE.
Over the next fifteen years, we intend to provide an updated suite of opportunities to an additional 12,000, or more, members of a new generation of underserved and marginalized individuals in the metro Detroit area. Our Workforce Development and Manufacturing programs have been in the process of integrating into one, with the intent of fully maximizing the best of what we have to offer. We have also been able to implement a registered Apprenticeship Program, which has provided us the resources and momentum to tackle higher-level, middle skills training, through a five-year, 3 million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. The federal program, Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow, allows us to be the designated training partner and provide opportunities to train high demand, lightweight metals technologies. We think it is important that the individuals who come to us looking to make a change have options. In the second quarter of 2015, Oakland School of Nursing relocated to our campus and opened up a new area of programming in healthcare. We also recently partnered with Oakland University Community College to provide an academic bridge to incoming college freshman.
“I went through a character transition at Focus: HOPE,” said Timothy Farris, Focus: HOPE graduate. “You do not just learn computer or financial skills, you learn life skills.”
Another part of our plan, our HOPE Village Initiative, has a goal to transform the area around our campus into a community where 100% of its residents are educationally well-prepared, economically self-sufficient and living in a safe and supportive environment by 2031. Our neighborhood of 5,300 residents is a perfect microcosm of Detroit with all of its attendant challenges and has benefited very little, if at all, from the economic resurgence in downtown and midtown. Our Initiative aims to change that by focusing on multi-generational engagement and impact through our Center for Children; Center for Working Families; Neighborhood Network and Keep it 100!
“Individuals that use our programs, have the opportunity to be a part of what they are receiving,” said Waymond Hayes, Program Director, Early Learning, Focus: HOPE. “It’s not like we are looking down on individuals, we are giving them a hand up, assisting them to better themselves and better their situation.”
The third part of our plan focuses on providing additional services through our Commodity Food Program, which continues its impressive run of supporting nearly 42,000 monthly clients, and its role as the leading national advocate for its expansion. Our Food Program is currently present and active in 47 states around our country. Under our new plan, we hosted 58 healthcare screening events at our food centers and an estimated 8,000 individuals received assistance with their utility bills at our DTE office.
“Focus: HOPE has helped me a great deal,” said Frederick Henry, Food Program recipient. “A lot of the stuff they give me, I give to other people if I do not use and I appreciate it very much.”
Thanks to the C.S. Mott Foundation, we can continue to be steadfast in our commitment to pursuing intelligent and practical action to overcoming racism, poverty and injustice. Since 1971, we have championed the inclusion of women, minorities and disadvantaged in professions and careers where they were historically excluded from, and gave them a pathway to training and higher education opportunities, including receiving their associate and bachelor degrees. Many of our students come to us without a high school diploma. To be able to see the transition in those individuals throughout our programs is life changing. As we look forward to the future, we continue to define the organization’s efforts in terms of relevancy and impact and look forward to a continued partnership that will eventually overcome racism, poverty and injustice.