MI youth career comp winners

Over 300 youth, volunteer judges and employer partners from across the state convened in Lansing on Thursday, March 21st for the 10th annual Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates Career Development Conference where the youth showcased their leadership and employability skills, competing in employment-inspired events that use the skills learned through the JMG program.  

The annual CDC is a capstone of Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates’ (JMG) year-long programming where students demonstrate skills learned throughout the program including interviewing skills, problem solving, product design & marketing and others, all aimed at preparing students for the workplace. JMG, a program of Youth Solutions, Inc., equips young people with the skills needed to overcome barriers and ensures Michigan’s youth win in education, employment, and as citizens serving over 3,000 young people annually across 40+ Michigan cities.

According to Kristin Harrington, Executive Director of Youth Solutions, the future for Michigan’s youth is very bright. With a projected 800,000 new jobs available in the state by 2024, JMG is building a youth talent pipeline from high school graduation into employment.  In her opening remarks, Harrington recognized the student leaders that will fill a part of that pipeline, “You are a winner for pushing your boundaries, exceeding your personal limits, and coming outside of your comfort zone to compete in a top caliber employability competition against student leaders from across the state.”

These outcomes include six consecutive years of graduation rates that are 90% or higher for all dropout prevention programming and 85% rates of employment, post-secondary education or the military for graduates in that same time frame. In addition, over the past four-years, the JMG graduation rate has exceeded the average school rate by 16.4%.

Harrington attributes the program’s success to partnerships across the state including strong support from the State of Michigan’s Talent Investment Agency (TIA) who has been an advocate and close partner for half a decade. In the past five years alone, JMG has increased the number of students served by 530% – from 500 young people to over 3,000. “That doesn’t happen without partners who advocate for JMG on a daily basis,” said Harrington. Other key partners include Strada Education Network, who received the “Advocate of the Year” award, Kinexus Group, the Michigan Works! system, and the State of Michigan Legislature (“Partner of the Year” awardee) who has embraced JMG as the premier choice for education and workforce programming to serve young people representing 63 legislative districts.

Success of the program was exemplified through the “Student of the Year” award winners, Caitlin Steele of Hartford High School and Tamia Clay of Benton Harbor High School, and the “Alumnus of the Year,” Chloressa Wren, a scholarship-awarded student at the University of Michigan-Flint, and Lewis Williams, an apprentice for DTE Energy.

They credit JMG with helping them overcome personal barriers and with preparing them for the workforce by teaching the soft skills employers are looking for in their employees. 

Winners by event category included:

Interview Skills – Individual Awards:

Group 1:

1st Place: Paul Tietjen – Charlevoix ISD Career Technical Center, Pellston

2nd Place: Jesus Martinez Jimenez – Hartford High School

3rd Place: Alanzo Garcia – Hartford High School


Group 2:

1st Place: Roy’shun Armstead – Bridge Academy, Benton Harbor

2nd Place: Lashell Winbush – Bridge Academy, Benton Harbor

3rd Place: Michael David-Thomas, Learning and Earning to Achieve Potential (LEAP), Flint


JMG Bowl – Team Award:

1st Place: Phoenix High School, Kalamazoo

2nd Place: River Rouge High School

3rd Place: Benton Harbor High School


Product Design & Marketing:

Group 1:

1st Place: Benton Harbor High School

2nd Place: Hartford High School

3rd Place: Windover High School, Midland


Group 2:

1st Place: SER Learning Academy, Metro Detroit


Creative Problem Solving:

Group 1:

1st Place: Hartford High School

2nd Place: Flint Southwestern Classical Academy

3rd Place: Cody High School – Institute of Technology Cody High School – Medicine & Community Health Academy (tie)


Group 2:

1st Place: West Michigan Works! Service Center

2nd Place: Capital Area Michigan Works! Service Center/Lansing School District

3rd Place: Dearborn Michigan Works! Service Center (ACCESS)


Chapter Marketing Event:

1st Place: Hartford High School

2nd Place: Hartford High School

3rd Place: Dowagiac Union High School

The event was made possible thanks to sponsorships by the State of Michigan Talent Investment Agency, Strada Education Group, Kinexus Group, and Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG). Additionally, Michigan Works! partners play a leading role in the program with special recognition to Capital Area Michigan Works!, GST Michigan Works!, Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation, West Michigan Works!, Michigan Works! Southeast, Michigan Works! Southwest, Upward Talent, Networks Northwest, Michigan Works! Northeast Consortium, SEMCA, Michigan Works! Region 7B, and the Michigan Works! Association.

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