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DTE Energy Foundation Gives Grant to United Way to Support 100 Summer Jobs to Area Youth

Partnership includes Michigan Works! Youth Employment Program for Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, Kent, Mecosta, and Lake Counties

MUSKEGON, MI – United Way of the Lakeshore and DTE Energy Foundation today announced the launch of the Summer Youth Nonprofit Work Experience Program in partnership with Michigan Works! West and West Central to employ 100 youth in Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, Kent, Mecosta, and Lake Counties. The DTE Energy Foundation is providing a $150,000 gift for the 6-week summer program, that places youth ages 15 to 18 in jobs at community organizations. In addition to earning a paycheck, they learn the hard skills required for the job and the associated soft skills, includingwork ethics, being punctual and getting along with their colleagues and customers.

“We appreciate the opportunity provided by DTE Energy Foundation to collaborate with partners at Michigan Works! and with those in local government and nonprofit agencies to recruit youth and job sites that provide a summer work experience, access to mentors, and career building and educational prospects for these hard to place young workers. Without this summer program, many might not have the chance to work. During the summer, they will work in positions that benefit the people and the community at large,” said Christine Robere, President & CEO, United Way of the Lakeshore. “The youth, who are from low socio-economic backgrounds, are from families often where one or both parents are working, but are having a difficult time meeting their basic family needs. We refer to these Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed workers as ALICE. The summer youth work experience is a program that helps give the youth a leg up as they begin their careers and/or education.”

Kenneth Flowers and Darius Ricks, student participants from 2015, shared their summer employment experience and how the program has opened them to other opportunities.

“We are excited to collaborate with the United Way of the Lakeshore on the youth employment program. Our partnership is helping to create opportunities that provide meaningful learning experiences and skills training to prepare under-served youth to enter the workforce and pursue future employment,” said Nancy Moody, vice president of Public Affairs, DTE Energy, who is a native of Muskegon. “It’s a significant way for DTE to yet again demonstrate its commitment to being a force for growth and prosperity in Muskegon and the surrounding communities.””

The bulk of the $150,000 gift from DTE Energy Foundation will go to pay wages of youth enrolled in the summer program in Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, Kent, Mecosta, and Lake Counties. Michigan Works! recruits both employers and youth and then matches them and monitors their involvement over the duration of the program.

“The summer program provides an opportunity for young adults to experience the reality of a work environment and to gain some perspective as they embark on their college and/or career pathway,” said Scotty Kehoe, regional manager, Corporate and Government Affairs, DTE Energy. “We like this program because we know that kids who learn the hard and soft skills associated with working can accumulate more proficiency. With that foundation, they can more quickly become assets to themselves and to employers.”

Research shows that at-risk youth who miss out on an early work experience are more likely to endure economic instability and unemployment later in life.

Participants in the summer work program will be exposed to talent tours. During these tours, students will become familiar with high demand jobs in the region and learn about the skills and additional education needed to qualify for them. In addition, student participants will participate in a service learning project that they determine, design, and execute.

New features of the program include: a parent orientation to what their student youth will be exposed to in career and college development; awareness of curbing racial bias; and, a developing a video to showcase the program and its assets.

“Similar to last year, our United Way staff and a team of AmeriCorps members from the National Civilian Community Corps (N-triple-C) will assist the summer youth participants in planning and oversight of community service project of their choosing,” said Mark Meyers, City Manager of Norton Shores and Chairman of the Board of Directors, United Way of the Lakeshore. “The N-triple-C team arrived last week in Muskegon from the North Central Region campus of Vinton, Iowa and is busy preparing for the service projects that includes one by the DTE summer work student participants. The projects are a powerful tool in that the participants have an even greater sense of accomplishment and pride that often transcends to future activities where, as young works or college students, they give to their local community through service.”

Meyers recognized Nathan Hackenberg and Carmen H. Varela, N-triple C members who are on current assignment in Muskegon.

About United Way of the Lakeshore

United Way of the Lakeshore is uniting to inspire change and build thriving communities. Our Bold Goal – 10,000 more working families meet their basic needs by 2025. For more information, contact United Way of the Lakeshore at 231-332-4047 or visit www.unitedwaylakeshore.org.

About DTE Energy Foundation

The DTE Energy Foundation is the philanthropic arm of DTE Energy, continuing the legacy of community support and involvement of its electric and natural gas utilities, which serve 2.1 million electric customers in Southeast Michigan and 1.2 million natural gas customers in Michigan. In 2015, the DTE Energy Foundation provided $15 million in grant support to nonprofits throughout the company’s service territories. As one of Michigan's leading corporate citizens, DTE Energy is a force for growth and prosperity in the 450 Michigan communities it serves in a variety of ways, including philanthropy, volunteerism and economic progress. http://www.dteenergy.com/foundation.

For further information: K.P. Pelleran, United Way of the Lakeshore, 231.332.4017 (w) or 517.887.0580 (c)