Program Summary: Mid-Michigan Industries, Inc. (MMI) provides jobs and training to people with barriers to employment. In 1998, MMI began programs designed specifically to transition youth from school to work. The purpose of these programs is to keep students in school, reduce the number of student dropouts, increase the number of students who participate in postsecondary training or education, and provide employers with a better-prepared workforce. The youth programs are divided into two parts: WAVE (Work and Vocational Exploration), which is a seven-week summer program primarily for 14- and 15-year olds; and PAVE (Personal and Vocational Exploration), which takes place during the school year and is designed to instruct youth newly entering the program and to provide ongoing support to youth who have participated in WAVE. Both WAVE and PAVE work with middle school and high school youth who meet program criteria through referrals made chiefly by school counselors and teachers. WAVE participants can attend for two years. WAVE operates three days a week for seven hours per day. Students complete a wide range of assessment activities to help them identify career choices. PAVE also works with students ages 14 and 15 years old, although older students can participate if needed. Students can also attend PAVE for two years.
Sixty-five percent of the youth served by WAVE and PAVE have some type of disability. These include developmental, physical, learning, and emotional disabilities. Mentors receive training specifically designed to teach them how to provide support for people with disabilities in ways that reflect individual learning styles, preferences, and strengths. Additional specialized supports (such as job coaching for work experience, modified lesson plans for non-readers, and specialized career interest assessment) are used to help youth who need additional support. Individualized mentoring and support are critical elements for all youth. Youth also work together to support each other and learn to respect each other’s differences.
States of Operation: MI
All youth must meet both of the following two criteria:
- Low income
- In-school youth (primarily ages 14 or 15 through 18 years old).
In addition to these two required criteria, youth must also meet at least one of the following secondary barriers:
- Runaway and homeless youth
- Youth with disabilities
- Pregnant or parenting youth
- Youth offenders
- Youth in foster Care
- Substance abuser
- One or more years behind in grade level
- In need of additional support to complete education
- Reside in a single parent household
- Receive special education services.
ODEP Funded: No
Profile Year: 2007
Career Preparation and Work-Based Learning Experiences: During the first year of WAVE, there are multiple career topics that students can explore. In each area they learn about a wide range of career choices and the kind of training, education, job duties, availability, wages, and opportunities for advancement associated with each career. Program staff members make a concerted effort to use information and assessment tools in order to ensure that participants make career choices appropriate to their skills, interests, likes, and abilities. During the first year of PAVE, three work-preparation components are explored: after-school classes, in which curricula focus primarily on the skills needed to find and keep a job and secondarily on soft skills; individual mentoring, in which students develop personal goals and action plans; and extra-curricular involvement, which can include volunteer work or part-time employment, and which creates an opportunity for youth to connect with adults who can be used as employment references. Other work-preparation activities are also included. At the conclusion of the second year of the WAVE program, youth have a career plan that includes both annual goals and the steps needed to achieve them.
Youth Development and Leadership: Once a year, MMI sponsors a Leadership Weekend at a local camp. Activities for youth include interactive group activities, conflict resolution exercises, communication exercises that teach youth how to communicate with people different from themselves, and instruction in facilitating meetings and using Robert’s Rules of Order. Youth also identify community issues that they would like to work on. They meet informally twice during the year to review the status of their community issue plans and make any adjustments. Each youth participates in two of these Leadership Weekends: once as a participant and once as a peer leader.
Connecting Activities: At intake, each youth completes an Individual Service Strategy (ISS) to address areas for improvement, strengths, needs, and assessment outcomes. During the mentoring program, students meet one-on-one with a mentor for a minimum of 30 minutes each week. PAVE and WAVE do not intervene on behalf of students, but teach students how to advocate for themselves and solve their own problems. Mentors periodically consult the ISS to check a student’s progress and plan future activities. Twice a year youth and their families attend a parent-teen workshop so youth can show what they have accomplished in the program. MMI also provides referrals to counseling, social service agencies, medical facilities, literacy groups, and other appropriate organizations.
Staff Development: Youth mentors spend no fewer than 20 hours per year in training. They meet monthly to share ideas and solve problems. In addition to the mentor staff training, MMI offers six general staff training days a year. There is also Supervisory Career Track training for employees who have been with the organization one year, but lack supervisory experience. MMI also offers tuition reimbursement for those who wish to continue their education.
Collaboration: Schools provide physical space for the WAVE and PAVE programs, and partner in working with individual youth. MMI also participates on Transition Councils that develop ways to support special education students in their transition from school to work. Court systems serve as a referral source for the programs. Community colleges provide space for the summer programs and give full use of labs and classroom space. The Workforce Development Board, in addition to providing funding, is as an excellent resource for youth mentors and for learning materials. Local businesses provide work experience, assist in mock interviews, allow job shadowing, and participate in other activities. Local non-profits provide an opportunity for youth to participate in meaningful volunteer activities.
EVIDENCE OF SUCCESS (INFORMATION AND ANALYSIS)
Data: Since youth with disabilities comprise such a high percentage of participants (65%), it is likely that the composite data probably holds true for them as well as those without disabilities.
Following are data relating to program outcomes.
|Youth Served in 2003-2004
|Total youth served in 2003-2004
|Work experiences provided
|Percent of program youth from families receiving any public assistance
|Percent of program youth with special needs
|Percent of program youth at least one grade level behind their peers
|Percent of program youth involved with court system at time of enrollment
Participant Outcomes 2003-2004
|Attained basic skills, work readiness skills, or occupational skills
|Attained a secondary school diploma or GED
|Employed, in postsecondary training, in the military, or in a qualified apprenticeship program following graduation
|Would recommend the program to a friend
|Entered program with a GPA of 2.0 or higher or within one semester reached a GPA of 2.0 or higher
|Average GPA increases within one year