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$40,000 HYPE employment program grant intended to help reduce violence on Flint’s north side

Photo: Fall 2019 HYPE class graduates

By Tanya Terry

The HYPE (Helping Young People to Employment) program was awarded a $40,000 IC2 grant. Hamilton Community Health Network is the lead agency for the grant, which is intended to help reduce crime on the north end of Flint.

“When people are working, crime is reduced,” said Angela Lots, founder and executive director of Faith Foundation Resources.

Lots said when individuals are working, they experience increased self-esteem, an ability to help their family and the capability to be productive in society.

To receive the grant, nonprofits must have a proven track record.

“We have a 98 percent job placement rate,” Lots said.

The grant is a three-year grant, with one year for planning and two years for program implementation. Eleven organizations receive funding through this community based project, according to Sandra Johnson, project manager for Hamilton Community Health Network.

“Our boundaries are Pierson south, Clio west, Carpenter north and the Flint River east,” Johnson said.

Lots said both physical health and the financial health that comes from having a job are important. In addition, Faith Foundation Resources does its nutritional program through Hamilton Community Health.

“When you have a job you actually have the funds to purchase healthy foods. Many times, when we don’t have money, we make poor choices in our food selection. We will buy a McDonald’s hamburger versus fruits and vegetables because it’s cheaper to get the dollar hamburger,” Lots said.

Lots had a personal experience that led her to launch the HYPE program. She has two sons, ages 28 and 26.

“When my youngest turned 16 and it was time for a job, I asked him how he would approach an employer. His answer made me cringe. I figured if I hadn’t taken the time to tell my own kids how to approach an employer, how many other parents hadn’t taken the time to teach their young people how to approach an employer and about the do’s and the don’ts?”

A professional development team conducts a six to eight-week training program that culminates in each program participant being interviewed for a real job by a hiring manager. HYPE classes are currently offered in Illinois and Michigan.

HYPE was originally designed for youth ages 16-24. However, the state asked Faith Foundation Resources, which offers HYPE, if the program could be offered for adults because of the organization’s success with youth.

“We found the adults need the same training,” Lots said.

The adult program is called HYPE Remix and has had participants up to over age 70. It is open for all ages, there is no cost and there is no income requirement for participants.

The HYPE programs teach skills ranging from marketing oneself with a “60-second commercial” to establishing and building credit.

“We teach them the importance of looking an employer in the eyes, about what should and shouldn’t be on their resume, where to put their hands and how to use job experience they have when limited. If they babysat, they may not realize they have childcare experience to put on their resume.”

Another priority is to make sure each student in the class has his or her own bank account.

“Many of our students are first generational bankers and savers,” Lots said.

The HYPE Program has a partnership with ELGA Credit Union.

The HYPE program is one of several programs offered through Faith Foundation Resources, lining up with the foundation’s mission of providing low income and at-risk individuals tools to the next stage in life, “bridging the gap in life, one mind at a time.”

“Many times at-risk students are marginalized. I don’t believe in that,” Lots said.

Maurice Thomas, 51, said his interview skills “were a little off” before participating in HYPE Remix.

“I was out of date because of my age group. By doing repetition and understanding the approach it helped. We learn to smile when you walk into a room. We learn employers look at how you walk, how you talk, how you present yourself and even notice your handshake,” Thomas said.

Thomas has worked many jobs from local truck driving to working in a juvenile corrections facility. He recently had an interview and was hired for part-time, temporary work in the healthcare field. Although he is still in the job market, he said HYPE Remix helped him excel in his job interview.

“She gave us a lot of statistics on what employers are looking for. I didn’t know the importance of a firm handshake before. I’m 6 feet 2 inches tall. So being a big guy, I tried to be a gentle guy.”

Thomas said he is 100 percent confident he will land the full-time job he is looking for, and said the IC2 grant is important because there are fewer job opportunities on Flint’s north side.

Carendus Jackson, 50, now participates in HYPE Remix after being told about it by his nephew.

He believes his one-on-one interviewing skills were lacking before taking part in the program.

“In school they taught us how to dress, but they didn’t teach us interviewing and social skills,” he said.

Jackson said HYPE Remix has been beneficial. He has been looking for warehouse or production work since the last company he worked for laid off all its third shift workers. He is very confident he will find employment after taking part in HYPE Remix.

“I have the communication skills to go to talk to the employer and go forward with the company. I’m more relaxed now,” Jackson said.

New sessions of the HYPE program are expected to begin the third week in March. To register or ask questions, call 810-766-9335.


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