Grant to provide employment and training services to support returning citizens and Michigan employers

On Wednesday, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) announced the state has been awarded a $7.6 million federal grant to launch a new initiative designed to reduce recidivism among justice involved citizens and increase their successful participation in employment and training opportunities.

LEO’s Office of Employment and Training will implement the Michigan Citizen Reentry Initiative (MiCRI) which initially will expand in-reach services – including individual needs evaluations, soft skills training, workplace skills development, job search skills and employment retention strategies – to hundreds of inmates at the Milan Federal Correctional institution who are nearing release from prison. MiCRI will ensure those individuals will continue to receive employment, training, and supportive services when they move to residential reentry centers in other parts of the state.

“The Michigan Citizen Reentry Initiative will help Michiganders find opportunity so they can support themselves, their families, and local small businesses,” said Whitmer. “MiCRI’s approach will help reduce recidivism by providing meaningful, individualized support to Michiganders as they reenter the workforce, and it will help employers fill critical job openings across the state to ensure we can continue growing our economy. These grants will make a real difference in people’s lives, and I will work with anyone to empower every Michigander to pursue their potential.”

Whitmer’s MI New Economy plan identifies a lack of workers, particularly skilled workers, among the biggest economic challenges facing the state. While Michigan’s unemployment rate has been better than the national average, its labor force participation rate is worse, trailing the nation since December 2001. MiCRI will prepare justice involved individuals to fill in-demand positions for employers across the state.

“These employment and training supports, including the post-release assistance, are designed to make a significant difference in the lives of returning citizens,” said Stephanie Beckhorn, director of LEO’s Office of Employment and Training. “We are focused on educating Michiganders and growing the middle class by removing barriers to employment – and MiCRI ensures that our efforts are inclusive of all residents.”

MiCRI brings a collaborative approach to solving the problem of recidivism. MiCRI will provide pre-release education, career guidance, social support and employment assistance to those who are incarcerated. It will also provide needed support post-release.

Using an employer-led approach, returning citizens will be provided training for in-demand skills and paired with employers willing to work with at-risk individuals through direct employment or Registered Apprenticeship programs.

In addition to the Milan Federal Correctional Institution, MiCRI will serve justice involved individuals at the Kalamazoo Probation Enhancement Program in Battle Creek and Kalamazoo, and Cherry Street Services in Detroit and Grand Rapids. These efforts will be directly supported by Michigan Works! Southeast, Michigan Works! Southwest, the Detroit Employment Services Corporation (SEMCA), and West Michigan Works!

MiCRI will later establish a statewide network that would allow returning citizens to access a variety of employment and training supports through the Michigan Works! network.

“Being a support to our returning citizens is a priority for us here at Michigan Works Southeast,” said Michigan Works! Southeast Director Shamar Herron. “We understand and value that the individual is working to enter the workforce after being out of it for an extended amount of time. We will work with individuals both inside and once released to ensure they are prepared for employment. Working with the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity on this program is a perfect showcase of state and local partnerships that have a positive outcome for all involved.”

The $7.6 million competitive Joint First Step Act Grant was awarded to LEO by the U.S. Departments of Labor and Justice.

To learn more about LEO’s efforts to promote a flexible, innovative, and effective workforce system within Michigan, visit Michigan.gov/Workforce.

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