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Focus: HOPE will continue programs with help of MEDC grant

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Michael Shore

Focus: HOPE will continue programs with help of MEDC grant

Just eight days after announcing it was reducing staff and suspending its workforce training programs due to federal funding cuts, Detroit-based Focus: HOPE will receive a one-time $1 million transitional grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to continue the operations of some of its programs.  

“Since 1981, Focus: HOPE has provided job training to more than 11,000 people who have contributed over a billion dollars in earnings to the local economy,” said Governor Rick Snyder, preparing to unveil a special message on developing and connecting talent to current and future jobs on Thursday, Dec. 1 at Delta College. “We're proud to be able to partner with a great organization like Focus: Hope and provide assistance to help them maintain some critical programs and services at a time when jobs and training programs are more essential than ever.”  

On Nov. 22, Focus: HOPE announced it was canceling classes for approximately 225 students and cutting 70 staff members due to federal funding cuts for job training and the federal government’s budget gridlock.  

The agency, which received $5.86 million in federal Workforce Investment Act funding for fiscal year 2011 that ended Sept. 30, budgeted for a 10 to 20 percent decrease for fiscal year 2012.  To date, it has received none of the anticipated funds and is uncertain when, or if, any funds will be received.  

“This is terrific news,” said William F. Jones, Jr., CEO of Focus: HOPE. “It gives us the ability to finish classes that students were just weeks away from completing. As we leverage this money to obtain additional funding, we are simultaneously planning our future programming. This is extremely good news for our students who are distressed at having their programs interrupted and their futures placed on hold.”  

The MEDC grant will allow Focus: HOPE to continue a modest level of programs and services while it reorganizes and applies for a new level of federal funding. The MEDC also will assist the organization with developing a long-term strategic plan that involves structural changes and program sustainability.  

“Focus: HOPE gets results far beyond its program costs with a placement rate of 72 percent and most students getting good-paying jobs within 60 days of completing the programs,” said Michael A. Finney, President and CEO of the MEDC. “We’re pleased to provide this assistance while Focus: HOPE reorganizes, and look forward to continuing to work together to continue these vital services in the future.”  

Focus: HOPE is a nationally recognized civil and human rights organization in Detroit founded in 1968 after the Detroit riots. Throughout the years, Focus: HOPE developed numerous programs in its efforts to overcome racism, poverty and injustice, including food, career training, and community development programs. Through Focus: HOPE, thousands of individuals – especially women and minorities – have become financially independent. Visit www.focushope.edu.  

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation, a public-private partnership serving as the state's marketing arm and lead agency for business, talent and jobs, focuses on helping grow Michigan's economy. For more on the MEDC and its initiatives, visit: MichiganAdvantage.org

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