Study shows gains in jobs for Michigan students

LEAP Youth

A major research study by the University of Michigan-Flint shows students who enrolled in the Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates (JMG) program have a higher graduation rate; higher weekly wages, and an increased likelihood of enrolling in college.

The JMG program was established ten years ago to help at risk youth graduate from high school and be better prepared for the future.

“Positive outcomes for the program participants were observed across all three of the model types; which includes multi-year students, alternative education, and out of school youth,” said Dr. Yener Kandogan, Associate Dean of the School of Management at the University of Michigan-Flint. “These successes were achieved despite significant academic, personal, and family backgrounds that placed students at risk of not graduating, obtaining employment, or enrolling in college.”

“In fact, successful outcomes were observed across all racial-ethnic groups.  The program was most successful in helping participants overcome barriers such as being economically disadvantaged, having dropped out of school, having a father that does not work, lacking motivation, trailing behind peers academically, and having a foster care or runaway background,” stated Kandogan. 

The Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates (JMG) program started in 2008 at Benton Harbor High School and now serves over 3,000 students across Michigan.

The U of M Flint study included 299 senior-year participants from the graduating Class of 2015.  Some of the findings of the report include:

  • JMG students had a 94% graduation rate – 14% higher than the Michigan average, and 27% higher for African American and economically disadvantaged students.
  • Participants in the program had an average of 7.4 barriers including being economically disadvantaged; trailing behind peers academically; having a foster care background.
  • Time spent in JMG programming translated to an increase in the youths’ weekly wages – $1.09 more for every hour spent in leadership and employability skills training, and off-site career exploration and $2.25 more for every hour spent in community service or academic remediation activities.
  • Of the study participants, 70% had planned to enter part or full time employment at the start of the program, although only 20% actually had a job.  After the JMG program, 83% were employed – a 63% increase.
  • After completing the JMG program, 57% of participants had enrolled in post-secondary education, a remarkable increase of 17,000%.

“The challenge in Michigan is building our youth talent pipeline,” said Kristin Harrington, Executive Director of Youth Solutions, who provides JMG programming through partnerships across Michigan. “In Michigan nearly 11,000 kids drop out of high school every year. Without that building block of a diploma students are more than twice as likely to live in poverty; 63 times more likely to be incarcerated; and 59% more likely to unemployed.”

She added, “This study proves we can turn this around and equip all of our young adults with the skills to overcome barriers and win in education, in employment, and in life.”

Educators across the state are seeing similar results.

“This program is providing the ‘why’ for many of our students.  Through this program I have seen many students engage in leadership and school in general for the first time.  This is an amazing program that I wish every student in every school would have.  It is providing the framework for what the state and we locally have been striving for and falling short of for the past ten years,” said Starkweather Academy Principal Kevin Lane in the Plymouth Community Schools.

For more information on Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates programming or the Youth Solutions organization, visit the website