Access for All Building and Construction Trades Apprenticeship Readiness Training Program



Laura L. Rodwan | [email protected] | c: 313.477.2750

Detroiters Encouraged to Apply to Enroll in Access for All Building and Construction Trades Apprenticeship Readiness Training Program

DETROIT, Mich., April 14, 2014—Access for All is an apprenticeship readiness program designed to recruit, screen, assess, select and train Detroit residents to compete successfully for entry into registered apprenticeship training programs in six building and construction trades: laborers, operating engineers, iron workers, cement masons, carpenters and electricians.  Access for All staff will work with participants who complete the training to apply for apprenticeship openings in the participating building trades and to apply for jobs with union construction contractors.

This program is for unemployed or underemployed residents of the City of Detroit who are at least 18 years of age and have a high school diploma or a GED.  A participant must have a Michigan Driver’s License and be able to pass a drug screen and a criminal background check.

Access for All is a pilot program that includes 294 hours of classroom and worksite training.  While those who are accepted into the apprenticeship program can expect to spend 3-5 years there, they will be paid as they learn.

Access for All is funded privately by the Detroit Regional Workforce Fund, which is operated by United Way for Southeastern Michigan.  Partners include HRDI, an independent training nonprofit affiliated with the AFL-CIO, SER Metro, Southwest Solutions, Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association, Michigan Building and Construction Trades Association, Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice and many others.

“The purpose of this collaborative program is to strengthen our workforce and our community by training and placing Detroiters in well-paying, middle-class jobs,” said Karen Tyler-Ruiz, Director, Detroit Regional Workforce Fund (DRWF).

Enrollment has begun for classes that will start in in May.  Detroiters interested in training to becoming electricians, carpenters, operating engineers laborers, cement masons and ironworkers should contact an Access for All representative today by calling (313) 945-5200, ext. 4317.




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United Way for Southeastern Michigan

Detroit Regional Workforce Fund

660 Woodward Avenue, Suite 300

Detroit, MI 48226

The Detroit Jobs Alliance
Detroit Talent Hub

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By Lori Ella Miller

The Detroit Job Alliance (DJA) made its debut to the public on Tuesday, May 7th.  This may have been the DJA’s official coming out party, but the organization has been working behind the scenes for the past 18months to make their vision a reality.

That vision: Creating a Detroit in which all residents have the skills and resources needed to have sustainable career pathways and livelihoods that allow them to actively participate in this city’s growing economy.

According to Kendra L. Howard, Community Engagement Director for the Detroit Jobs Alliance, “The Detroit Jobs Alliance is a growing coalition of public and nonprofit organizations that are collaborating to support employment and careers for all Detroiters.”

The DJA received an infusion of funding in the amount of $450,000 from the Detroit Regional Workforce Fund (DRWF).  The money was a catalyst for moving the DJA forward and embarking upon its mission to create an alliance of stakeholders with a shared commitment to help all Detroit adult residents develop skills and provide access to sustainable careers.  The DJA represents a paradigm shift in the approach to building a new, broad-based prosperity model based on collective input and action.

It is not an employment service, but rather an organization that helps its “alliance members” operate more efficiently.  It is a natural and organic space for collaboration, coordination and community outreach.

The DJA operates on a premise that the whole can be a greater force than the sum of its individual parts.  To that end, the DJA assembled a network of 70 non-profit organizations, faith-based groups, job trainers, community resident groups, social science researchers, educational institutions and public agencies — all partnering to support pathways to employment and careers for all Detroiters.  This coalition of community players includes organizations, such as Henry Ford Community College, Focus: Hope and SER Metro in Southwest Detroit.

The DJA and its members are also connecting experienced workers with opportunities to develop new skill sets to compete in this changing economy.

Meet Allen Gayle.  Gayle was a young man who graduated from high school and began evaluating his options for the future.  Like so many others, he was uncertain about how to advance his life and career.  He looked for some direction, and thanks to DJA partner resources, Gayle was able to enroll in and complete a four-week Earn and Learn program.  He earned a proficiency certificate in customer service, studying and concentrating on Michigan OSHA standards, CPR and First Aid.  This was a spring board for him, and after completing additional course work, he went on to enroll at the Michigan Institute of Aviation and Technology.   Upon completion of his studies, he was greeted with offers for several positions.  He selected a job that relocated him to Lansing, Michigan.  Today, Allen Gayle is a member of a team of trained professionals who travel across the country repairing wind turbines. The experience opened doors for Gayle, gave his life new direction and helped him land a lucrative and rewarding career.

The DJA is also working diligently to create ways to use technology to help connect Detroit residents to jobs and valuable employment resources.  David Tinsley of the University of Michigan Detroit Center is a member of a DJA committee looking at new approaches that would do just that.

Tinsley and the DJA committee ascertained that many Detroiters connect to the internet via smartphones rather than computers. This DJA action team came up with a plan to design a downloadable smartphone App to showcase job training and employment success stories, as well as provide a list of jobs leads powered by Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation, a Michigan Works agency.  The easy-to-use App will be a great tool for both job seekers and employers, and is slated to go live in late 2013.

It is said that: “You must be the change you want to see in the world.”  The Detroit Job Alliance and its coalition believe in changing the old model and creating a new approach to help solve Detroit’s workforce and economic development challenges.



By Lori Ella Miller

The Detroit Regional Workforce Fund (DRWF) working in collaboration with one of its community partners, Eastern Market Corporation, funded several food business incubation projects to support the hopes and dreams of a number of Detroit-based entrepreneurs, businesses and grass-roots organizations like the Detroit Food Academy.

Formerly known as the Detroit Youth Food Brigade, the Detroit Food Academy is a unique and symbiotic collaboration between local high school age students, food-based businesses and neighborhood markets. The overall goal of the organization is to empower Detroit high school students by providing them with the experience of crafting socially, environmentally and economically healthy food and bringing it to the marketplace.

The Detroit Food Academy was established in the summer of 2011 by Noam Kimelman, owner of Fresh Corner Café and Jen Rusciano, a food systems educator who now serves as the organization’s Executive Director of Operations. It started as a seasonal opportunity for high school students to obtain first-hand experience in the food business. Detroit Food Academy students teamed up with the local growers and businesses during Eastern Market’s Tuesday marketplace to sell fresh fruits and vegetables and locally sourced value-added products.

In the fall of 2012, the DRWF provided the Detroit Food Academy with $20,000 to help fund the expansion of its Eastern Market program. This infusion of funding took the program to a new level, and afforded approximately 20 Food Academy participants the chance to craft and launch their own socially conscious food businesses. These young lions of commerce sold their wares at the weekly Tuesday markets. They offered a variety of healthy food items, including veggie chips and gourmet dips.

“The Detroit Food Academy is offering a unique and engaging hands-on educational experience. We are using the medium of food and entrepreneurship to teach skills that can be used in the real world,” said Jen Rusciano, Detroit Food Academy Executive Director of Operations. “We work to inspire confidence in our students for personal growth and we spend a lot of time on ideals, values, leadership and justice.”

The Eastern Market program proved so successful that the Detroit Food Academy now operates a year-round curriculum. The students who go through the Detroit Food Academy now receive valuable training, a certification in food entrepreneurship, access to a network of potential employers and mentoring from businesses and local community leaders.

The program is open to individuals from ages 14 to 22, who show a clear desire to develop themselves professionally through the program by being dedicated, conscientious, and respectful. Since its inception, more than 100 students have participated — each has a unique story to tell, including one of the Academy’s shining stars 21 year-old Desmond Burkett.

Desmond was one of the first participants in the 2011 Eastern Market summer program. He had decided to drop out of high school and was merely looking for summer employment. Something about the Eastern market opportunity resonated with him. After he completed the first summer program, he returned in 2012, and became so inspired by the educators and his business associates, called “cohorts”, that he decided to earn his GED. Today, he is still with the Detroit Food Academy in a leadership role and oversees a student-run business that is developing several innovative products, including “Fruit Leather,” which is a healthy alternative to fruit roll-ups and apple sauce muffins. Desmond is using his past experience to coach his cohorts as they prepare to debut their enterprise at the Tuesday Eastern Market this summer.

“Kids can actually make a difference in our communities…be leaders instead of being out in the streets. I’m going back to school to get my high school diploma and go to college to become a teacher,” said Desmond, who also says this program helped him find out what he wanted to do with his life.

What’s ahead for the Detroit Food Academy? According to Rusciano, the organization hopes to continue to grow to the point where it can offer paid leadership positions to young Detroiters, and create engaging, skill- building experiences that will be accessible to as many young people as possible. The Detroit Food Academy is also looking for more teachers and educators to become involved.

As for the young entrepreneurs like Desmond and his cohorts, look for them at Eastern Market this summer and buy their products. Revenue from all of the sales is invested back into each student-run business. A bountiful economic harvest for all!

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CBS Detroit: Detroit Regional Workforce Fund Invests In Putting Detroiters Back To Work

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Detroit City and Press Detroit Regional Workforce Fund Invests in Putting Detroiters Back to Work

DETROIT — The Detroit Regional Workforce Fund today announced the Detroit Talent Hub as a component of its new workforce ecosystem. The Detroit Talent Hub will serve as an employment and training broker, working with lead employer partners to assess and hire as well as operate an internet portal for sector placement, monitoring and retention services.

The web portal,, connects employers with qualified workers from the Detroit region and local training agencies. With just a few clicks, users will find workers who are qualified, experienced or credentialed to enter the workforce for emerging and growing local, regional or national companies needing or wanting to connect with local talent.

The DRWF has invested $175,000 over two years in the Detroit Talent Hub and has derived a 93 percent retention rate during the test launch.  A number of organizations participated during this period, including ClarusPro LLC, Diversified Construction Services, D.R. Martin Construction, VITEC, Alkebu-Ian Village and the Green Healthy Homes Iniative/DWEJ.

The Detroit Talent Hub grew from the emerging ‘green industries’ sector, and has expanded to include jobs from energy, construction, housing rehab, manufacturing, hospitality, facilities & maintenance, healthcare, health IT, information technology, communications, foodservice, distribution, logistics, call centers, service centers and home health care among others. In an effort to bridge the ‘matching’ gap, the system maintains a database of thousands of qualified workers who are classified as highly qualified, qualified, credentialed or ready-to-work, eliminating significant human resources department time typically needed to evaluate a candidate.

“By leveraging investments from federal stimulus funds, the Detroit Regional Workforce Fund and other local foundations, the Talent Hub will provide a significant piece of the puzzle to put qualified Detroiters and citizens in the region to work,” said Jim Robinson, developer and managing partner for The Detroit Talent Hub. “There is a large pool of talented workers that employers need to source in an efficient and effective manner. The Talent Hub will provide a seamless connection through the web portal to boost employment opportunities, provide a resource for job seekers and most importantly, a connector for employers with jobs to fill.”

“The next wave of industrial innovation and opportunity is here,” said Karen Tyler-Ruiz, director of the Detroit Regional Workforce Fund. “And, it’s based in large part on sustainability — or more accurately, money-saving, health-promoting and natural resource conserving technologies, which Detroit is beginning to capitalize on.”

Already, more than 60,000 people in Southeast Michigan are working to build and provide more sustainable products and services — everything from energy efficient construction to hybrid cars to urban agriculture and green cleaning supplies. This amounts to more than 65 percent of all green jobs in Michigan.

While still only a small part of the overall economy in the region, in metro Detroit these jobs grew by 4.7 percent annually during most of the past decade, even as the overall number of jobs declined. By some estimates, these green industries have the potential to create well over 10,000 additional jobs in the Detroit area within the next few years.

“The good news is that federal, state and local leaders, including government agencies, private firms and financial institutions, philanthropic foundations and community-based organizations, have invested in local partnerships in Detroit, focused on these emerging market opportunities,” said Tyler-Ruiz. “They are working hard to ensure people in metro Detroit have the skills necessary to employment and career paths in clean economy industries. They’ve done this because they recognize that access to talent will be critical to the success of these industries. Detroit can emerge as a leader in developing the industries and talent solutions needed for success in the 21st century. To do so, we need a strong workforce to support the city in the new economy. While more needs to be done to promote investment and supportive policies, Detroit is on its way to seizing this opportunity and reinventing itself as a hub for sustainable industry development and ‘green collar’ jobs.”

The Detroit Regional Workforce Fund is a regional public/private collaborative that promotes regional economic growth through the development of a skilled workforce.

It supports partnerships among employers and workforce development partners, effects change in the region’s strategic workforce vision and aligns public and private resources in new ways around workforce development. Thirteen national and local, public and private investors have committed more than $5.5 million to the collaborative that is operated by the United Way for Southeastern Michigan.

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DRWF Basic Skills Report


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Partnering with Businesses to Grow the Green Economy in Detroit

Partnering with Business to Grow the Green Economy in Detroit

The Detroit Regional Workforce Fund is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a grant from the State of Michigan Workforce Development Agency to facilitate the launch of a Michigan Green Skills Alliance! This multi-year sector partnership will convene green business leaders in the region to identify ways to support their shared industry and workforce needs. The partnership will focus initially on the energy efficiency sector, but plans to expand to other sectors of the emerging green economy where there are opportunities for industry and workforce development partnerships. The Green Skills Alliance will work to align community and training efforts to meet industry needs and identify and help facilitate job opportunities for Detroit area residents. The Green Skills Alliance will convene again in the early fall to continue dialogue with business leaders – and we invite other business leaders to join this effort. Businesses are invited to inquire by contacting Kylee Mitchell at [email protected].

Detroit with Stakeholders to Support Green Career Pathways

In addition to the state funding, the Detroit Regional Workforce Fund is currently considering investment in a range of compatible efforts to support the scaling up of energy efficiency in the city and the creation of a viable market with a highly skilled workforce. The Fund’s Green Stakeholder Committee has been a key resource and advisory group for its targeted investments – a big thank you to the stakeholder committee for your continued contributions, ideas and willingness to pursue joint efforts! The City of Detroit is making headway into the green economy in large part thanks to your efforts and collaboration.

Telling the Detroit Green Jobs Story

The DRWF has engaged its strategic partner, Corporation for a Skilled Workforce, to conduct outreach to businesses, community-based organizations, and public sector agencies involved in the green economy and green job creation to get their ideas and input into a report on jobs and careers in the green economy in Detroit to be published in the fall of 2011. So, don’t be surprised if you get an email and phone call from CSW soon! If you haven’t already that is…

Making Detroit More Competitive for Green Jobs Funding: Catalyzing and Leveraging Additional Resources

In addition to facilitating state investment in a Green Skills Alliance, the Detroit Fund continues to be a facilitator of additional federal investment in the green economy in Detroit. Most recently, the Detroit Fund was informed of its successful bid to be a sub-grant recipient through Jobs for the Future; one of six competitive Green Jobs Innovation Fund grants from the U.S. Department of Labor. This $857,000 grant will help to ensure more Detroit residents gain access to training and are competitive for jobs in growing fields such as energy efficiency, landscaping and urban agriculture. This effort will build upon and help to sustain and scale a proven green jobs training program in the city – Detroit GreenWorks Solutions – that is operating with support from a previous competitive federal grant.

The Detroit Regional Workforce Fund is also supporting Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice’s training in environmental remediation occupations through a previously awarded grant from Jobs for the Future and the U.S. Department of Labor – one of more than three previous DOL green jobs grants that were awarded to Detroit area partnerships that the Fund helped to catalyze or support.

The Detroit Fund’s role has been to catalyze and facilitate funding to proven local partnerships while also providing additional resources and support to these efforts through its additional pooled resources of public and private funders on the Fund’s steering committee. These efforts build upon the Detroit Fund’s national partnership with the National Fund for Workforce Solutions and efforts to promote sector partnerships.


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DRWF Basic Skills Crisis Release

Michelle Zdrodowski
Franco Public Relations Group
(313) 567-5017
[email protected]

Study Reveals Many Metro Detroiters Lack Basic Skills for Employment

Detroit Regional Workforce Fund report finds that many in region are unprepared for jobs in growing industries

DETROIT, (May 4, 2011) – A study released today by the Detroit and Southeast Michigan Fund for Innovation Workforce Solutions (Detroit Regional Workforce Fund) revealed that many metro Detroiters in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties are lacking the basic skills necessary for employment in even the most entry-level employment opportunities, highlighting a number of serious challenges in the region’s education and employment infrastructure.

The Detroit Regional Workforce Fund commissioned the research to explore the issue of limited basic skills among metro Detroit’s workforce. The study identified several opportunities for the Detroit Regional Workforce Fund to impact the problem as part of its efforts to support partnerships among employers and workforce development partners, build a workforce focused on the jobs of the future, and align public and private resources in new ways around workforce development.

“We see great value in bringing attention to critical issues in our workforce economic development landscape,” says Karen Tyler-Ruiz, director of the Detroit Regional Workforce Fund. “This report is a central element of the fund’s value and will be vital in addressing the issues it presents.”

The study found that the existing underfunded and fragmented workforce development system fails to meet the needs of a worker population tremendously challenged by limited basic skills. This lack of basic skills needed for employment threatens to substantially limit the success of the fund’s education and training efforts, and ultimately participants’ success in connecting to career paths to higher paying jobs in emerging industries.

The National Institute for Literacy estimates that 47 percent of adults in the City of Detroit are functionally illiterate, with staggering rates recorded in some of the suburbs as well: Southfield at 24 percent, Warren at 17 percent and both Inkster and Pontiac at 34 percent illiterate.

Local resources to improve these rates were found to be completely inadequate in the study’s results. Fewer than 10 percent of those in need received any services with basic skills each year, and only 27 percent of the training programs surveyed provide services for learners at the lowest literacy levels. Study results also found that most program content did not address learning disabilities prevalent among low-skilled learners or provide support for low-income workers as they participated in education and training.

“Increasing adult educational attainment is critical to connecting the one in two city residents who are currently unemployed and underemployed to good jobs in our new economy,” said Tyler-Ruiz. “This is a critical opportunity for Detroit, where we know that access to services to improve basic skills like reading and math are extremely limited in and around the city.”

Although the State of Michigan and City of Detroit have made efforts to work to eliminate these problems, the Detroit Regional Workforce Fund will look to leverage current opportunities to fund programs and create partnerships that will expand and improve programming.

Based on analysis of the report, the Detroit Regional Workforce Fund is exploring several priority areas to help address our region’s basic skills crisis. One , is to focus on supporting pre-bridge and bridge programs to prepare low-skilled adults with the proficiencies they will need for the occupational training that the fund is investing in. Another consideration is to support the development of adult learning collaborative boards in metro Detroit, work that is already going on and that has been supported by the state, to be a vehicle for shared resources among providers.

The Detroit Regional Workforce Fund works to connect low-skilled, low-income workers to career pathways that lead to middle-skill jobs which require some postsecondary training beyond high school and generally pay family sustaining wages. Ten national and local, public and private funders have committed $3.5 million to the three-year collaborative, which promotes regional economic growth through the development of a skilled workforce. In addition to the Knight Foundation, which initiated the collaboration, funders include Kresge Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, National Fund for Workforce Solutions, U.S. Department of Labor, Michigan Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth (DELEG), United Way for Southeastern Michigan (which is also the Fund’s fiduciary body and administrative home), Skillman Foundation, Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, and the Ford Foundation.

Connect with us on Twitter at @DetroitWorkFund.


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DRWF “Straight Talk” Event – May 4, 2011

Straight talk about moving the state of our current workforce to a future that works.

Summit purpose:
Michigan will recover from its current recession, but the workplace has undergone great change. New skills are needed to fill emerging and growing career pathways and the Detroit Regional Workforce Fund is committed to ensuring that private and public industries are best able to align the education and training necessary to create a new economy. In this summit, we invite funders and community leaders to get together for an exploration of innovative solutions that will help our workforce return our state to economic prosperity.

This summit will:

  • Bring together the people who can envision and drive immediate, tangible change to promote economic growth in existing and emerging work sectors
  • Review the past year’s success in developing partnerships
  • Launch our vision for strengthening competitive workforce connections for our residents in order to drive economic sustainability for the region
  • Share perspectives from local and regional industry leaders, including:
  • Fred Dedrick, National Fund for Workforce Solutions, Executive Director
  • Damian Thorman, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, National Program Director


Summit objectives:

  • Share where national best practices are, where we are locally and shape a vision for where we are going
  • Design goals for workforce development that will help to match opportunity with talent.
  • Engage leaders for ongoing involvement

Who will attend:

  • Practitioners
  • Funders
  • Board members
  • Policymakers
  • Employers
  • Key stakeholders
  • Media

Wednesday, May 4, 20112:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
United Way for Southeastern Michigan
660 Woodward Avenue, Suite 300
Detroit, MI 48226RSVP to: [email protected] Or by calling 313.226.9218

The Detroit Regional Workforce Fund is Powered by United Way for Southeastern Michigan.


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