Detroit seeking millions to help fund programs under ‘People Plan’


Detroit – The city is aiming to raise $ 50 million over five years to fund a range of programs for thousands of Detroiters who have felt “left behind or left out”.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan called on more than 100 corporations and philanthropic partners a little over a week ago to what his government called the People Plan. It includes six programs, including help for adults looking to graduate from high school, craft training, and door-to-door support programs.

Each has been put into action to varying degrees over the past year, but dedicated funding will help Detroit keep it up and running and grow, said Nicole Sherard-Freeman, executive director of human resources development and professional training for the city.

Sherard-Freeman said the plan was drawn up in response to Duggan’s request for a strategy “that would provide an opportunity to anyone in Detroit who wanted one.”

“There are so many resources out there, but if you don’t have someone to help you navigate and weave together, it’s the same as having no resources at all,” she said.

The mayor announced the fundraiser on Wednesday when he announced his offer for a third term.

Initiatives include a gun violence reduction program, a paid high school diploma and skilled worker training, the Detroit at Work Academy for Entrepreneurship Education, and the Detroit Community Health Corps, which were unveiled in August to provide families with benefits, housing and job prospects to help.

Duggan said the popular plan was designed to address structural racism, poverty and inadequate educational opportunities that have held Detroiters back for generations.

The city, he said, “will find ways to intervene and help you break these barriers.”

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan speaks before a groundbreaking ceremony for Osi Art Apartments in the West End on the Grand River in Detroit, Michigan on October 15, 2020.

Sherard-Freeman said Duggan raised elements of the plan in his State of the City address in February, including Learn to Earn, a GED graduation partnership with the Detroit Public Schools Community District that was launched in July. The program pays participants $ 10 per hour, up to 20 hours per week for up to six months.

Tens of thousands of Detroiters don’t graduate from high school, and before that there were only three locations in the city where adults could work towards one.

“People have lives. They dropped out of high school for a reason,” she said. “At this point, resuming your life and taking three buses to get to your program is just not practical.”

The city has received approximately $ 2.5 million for its original $ 10 million goal from General Motors Co., Amazon, JP Morgan Chase, the Rockefeller Foundation, and United Way for Southeast Michigan.

GM has committed $ 1 million for a year and will evaluate the program thereafter, said Terry Rhadigan, executive director of corporate donations at GM.

“For us it is an investment in delivering and developing a pipeline of qualified talent,” he said.

Sherard-Freeman said officials expect the first year of funding to help 2,000 Detroiters. If they continue to achieve success, they will be soliciting donors annually for the entire five years.

“We have a very small number of people in these programs, enough to come up to you and confidently say, ‘See, we’re trying. It works. It makes a difference. Please invest,'” she said.

The resident Torrence Poellnitz is completing a training program for carpenters as part of the city’s “Get Paid to Learn a Trade” program. The program works with the Emerging Industries Training Institute.

The training started eight weeks ago and as soon as Poellnitz completes the program on January 22nd, he will have the opportunity to join the town-based Go Green Contracting or Gayanga companies that have worked with the town and the training institute on the curriculum of the program to develop.

Poellnitz, 32, said his father, who died of lung cancer in September, had built a career in construction and was motivated to do the program in his honor. Graduates earn US $ 20 an hour, and Poellnitz plans to continue his work in asbestos removal.

“They support you,” he said. “It gives you the extra courage, ‘I can do this and stick with it.'”

In the six years leading up to COVID-19, Detroit’s unemployment rate fell from 20% in 2013 to 7.6% in 2019, according to government statistics.

Shortly before COVID-19, Detroit’s February resident employment was near an all-time high of 230,772 employees, based on figures from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

By May, the city sank to a low of 162,776 workers, with nationwide shutdowns to contain the spread of the virus. That has since recovered and 220,000 residents are back in action.

Sherard-Freeman credits some of the recovery to 4,100 Detroit residents who take jobs at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV at plants in Sterling Heights and Warren.

There will be 3,850 jobs at the new $ 1.6 billion Mack assembly plant on Detroit’s east side, and an additional 1,100 jobs once the neighboring Jefferson North assembly plant receives a $ 900 million update.

However, this week’s Detroit News reported that it remains unclear how many applicants looking for a job at Chrysler’s East Side assembly plant will work there.

The Detroit poverty rate fell nearly 10 percentage points from 39.8% to 30.6% from 2015 to 2019, Sherard-Freeman said.

The city hopes to lose an additional 10 points over the next five years to programs that offer the ability to “fill a credentials gap”, support emerging businesses, and pay residents to find a new job learn “to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty,” she said.

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The employee Kalea Hall contributed to this.


Dusty Kennedy