LANSING, Mich. (WJMN) – Governor Gretchen Whitmer has announced the recipients of grants aimed at providing young adults with career and educational opportunities. A total of $4 million was granted to 16 organizations to provide people with an introduction to the workforce, including jobs skills, on-site, hybrid, and virtual career exploration and preparation activities, and earned income.

Upper Peninsula Michigan Works! will receive $300,000 through the grant distribution. The funds will support the Young Professionals initiative, designed to reduce youth unemployment and place young adults, ages 14-24, on the right path to achieve lifelong economic self-sufficiency. Whitmer says the Young Professionals program aligns with Michigan’s Sixty by 30 goal to increase the number of working-age adults with a skill certificate or college degree to 60 percent by 2030.

“The Young Professionals Program, some people might remember this in the past as being called the Summer Youth Program, where we would seek out opportunities to find young people some summer jobs and then we use these funds to pay the wages for those jobs. And so this is another iteration of efforts that are pretty regularly implemented throughout the Upper Peninsula and throughout the state, to really give young people an opportunity to have a work experience and learn about the world of work and learn about some careers,” said Holly Peoples, Director of Business Services for Upper Peninsula Michigan Works!. “And then give businesses the opportunity to mentor those young people and give those young people basically a job for a short period of time and help them build their resumes and learn some skills and contribute to the organization.

Peoples says that Michigan Works! is currently looking to connect with businesses interested in participating in the program. Additionally, young people interested in participating are encouraged to contact their local Michigan Works! office. Peoples added that Upper Peninsula Michigan Works! is planning to utilize its grant funding for a new program this summer.

“One of the really special projects that we’re starting out this year, that’s kind of a newer thing for us, is we’re going to be having a summer camp that’s particularly focused on the skilled trades,” Peoples said. “So when we think of things like carpenters and millwrights, and plumbers and heavy equipment operators, and those kinds of skills, we’re going to be recruiting some kids to come and learn with those types of jobs. So that’s, that’s pretty exciting and something that’s a new way for us to approach it.”

Young Professionals grants were awarded to Michigan Works! network across the state. They were selected through a Request for Proposals process. The following 16 agencies were awarded corresponding funding:

Michigan Works! Berrien, Cass, Van Buren : $247,973 

Capital Area Michigan Works! : $300,000 

Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation : $353,220 

GST Michigan Works! : $257,924 

Great Lakes Bay Michigan Works! : $300,000 

Michigan Works! Macomb/St. Clair : $184,996 

Michigan Works! Northeast Consortium : $64,350       

Northwest Michigan Works! : $281,494 

Oakland County Michigan Works! : $293,645 

Michigan Works! Region 7B : $110,686 

Michigan Works! Southeast : $220,138 

Southeast Michigan Community Alliance : $228,130 

Michigan Works! Southwest : $450,000 

Upper Peninsula Michigan Works! : $300,000 

Michigan Works! West Central : $100,000 

West Michigan Works! : $307,444 

“This investment expands career and educational opportunities for young adults and helps us build a state where everyone, no matter who they are or where they live, has a shot at a bright future,” Whitmer said. “As a mom, I know that every parent wants their kids to have opportunities to pursue their potential and go on to live a great life. Today’s investment prepares young Michiganders to fill in-demand, good-paying jobs, and empowers them to support themselves and their families. It will help fill job openings especially as older Michiganders leave the workforce and build on Michigan’s ongoing economic momentum.”

More information about the program is available through the Michigan Works! network. To contact the nearest Michigan Works! Service Center, call 800-285-WORKS (9675) or visit MichiganWorks.org.