F.O.C.U.S. Forward

Forging Opportunities for Career Upskilling and Success

Program Details

Starr Commonwealth will use its expertise and a collaborative network of partners to offer an innovative and much needed community-based program for Opportunity Youth (ages 16-24) to connect locally with established educational and skilled trades training, apprenticeships, and pathways to gainful employment and careers.

The regional job market is in desperate need for more trained/qualified employees who have the personal and professional skills to enter the workforce, contribute productively to the team environment of the workplace, and commit to long-term careers.

Starr’s expertise includes understanding the challenges that have played a significant role in the lives and choices of these young people. The FOCUS Forward program is designed to address those issues most likely negatively impacting youth to reduce the barriers to educational achievement, and successful job placement and retention. Removing these barriers includes, but is not limited to:

  • Assistance with securing safe and affordable housing.
  • Food and nutritional support.
  • Mental and physical healthcare education and services.
  • Clothing and other required materials for employment, and technology access.
  • Coordination for childcare, if needed.
  • Transportation, or supports for their own transportation.
  • Establishing relationships and pathways with local educational/skilled trades training institutions, and participating employers offering paid apprenticeships, employment, etc.
  • Qualified staff/career “navigators” providing life skills training and coaching, social/emotional learning and supports, mentorship, and referral to on-site behavioral and mental health services.
  • Support for 6-12 months until they have achieved their individualized educational and skilled trades training/certifications, access to personal living/health supports, and secured apprenticeship or job placement.

Starr is formally partnering with Battle Creek and Marshall Public Schools, Kellogg Community College, Michigan Works! Southwest, KRESA Career Pathway Planning Program, Habitat for Humanity, Zero-Day, and other local and regional stakeholder organizations and employers.

Other Program Service Highlights:

  • Rolling/open enrollment
  • Personalized needs assessment, goal setting and creation of an Individual Development Plan
  • Integrated educational, professional, financial, health and independent living supports, including life coaching.
  • Diploma/GED completion pathways
  • Professional credential completion pathways (incl. scholarships)
  • Job, paid apprenticeship and service learning placements
  • Post-placement assistance
  • Lifetime access to Starr alumni supports