Sometimes people need a river of opportunity to find the tools they need to succeed.

Under a new program in Michigan, 200 food assistance recipients in Detroit will be able to “swim”” that “river of opportunity” thanks to more job training possibilities, which will hopefully help them find their way off the assistance program.

The nearly $1 million federally funded initiative began April 1. It targets 200 able-bodied individuals between the ages of 18 and 49 without dependents, who are receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and are participating in the SNAP Employment and Training program in Detroit. The goal is see half of the Food Assistance Program (FAP) cases closed, or benefits reduced, among the 200 participants.

The program reflects Gov. Rick Snyder’s new vision of a “River of Opportunity,” in which state public assistance programs serve as a customer pathway to self-reliance. The newly created Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is leading initiative.

“Helping people help themselves is one of the most powerful and rewarding things we can do,” said Nick Lyon, MDHHS director. “This targeted job training exemplifies the governor’s River of Opportunity approach and is designed to meet people where they are and help them connect to good paying jobs with a future.”

Under the initiative, Michigan is allowed to provide supportive employment activities such as subsidized employment and on-the-job training, along with other employment and training activities and supportive services for those participating in the SNAP employment and training program. The initiative offers wage subsidies to encourage employers to hire participants and expands vocational and supportive services to ensure a seamless transition from public assistance to employment.

“With scarce training resources, this special project comes at a critical time,” said Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation President and CEO Pamela Moore, Detroit’s Michigan Works Agency. “For 200 Detroiters, it offers the chance to be trained in a major growth sector, and begin a career pathway that provides a genuine opportunity to become economically self-sufficient.”

The program is part of an effort to revitalize Detroit by providing critical resources and economic incentives to help Detroiters find employment and reduce reliance on public assistance. It was created in collaboration with the Michigan Talent Investment Agency (TIA), USDA Food and Nutrition Services (FNS), the Department of Labor (DOL), and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).

“The River of Opportunity is all about giving Michiganders the tools they need to be successful and independent in the future,” Lt. Gov. Brian Calley said. “We have already seen great outcomes when we focus on the person first instead of programs and this initiative is another great step in the right direction.”


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