OU Pontiac Initiative

OU-Pontiac Talent Development Coalition recognizes State Rep. Brenda Carter for $200,000 Career Navigation Grant

brenda carter, OU Pontiac, grant, trades

icon of a calendarDecember 16, 2021

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OU-Pontiac Talent Development Coalition recognizes State Rep. Brenda Carter for $200,000 Career Navigation Grant
Members of the Talent Development Coalition, shown here with State Representative Brenda Carter, at a December 10 celebration event. Carter helped secure $200,000 in grant funding for Career Navigation.

The Talent Development Coalition (TDC), one of many Oakland University-Pontiac Initiatives, received their third grant on Friday, December 10 at Oakland University. This newest grant came through the efforts of State Representative Brenda Carter, who was honored at the celebration event for securing $200,000 for Career Navigation. Carter, who holds a master’s degree in public administration from Oakland University, revealed to the 40-member group that she started her own career in the trades.

The $200,000 in state funding will be used to create a pipeline of Pontiac and local students so they can enter the many skilled jobs, apprenticeships and/or college programs.

“Brenda Carter has given every young person in Pontiac Schools the chance to be exposed, explore, discover, and commit to a career even as early as high school,” said TDC leader and life-long Pontiac resident Carlton D. Jones, chief navigator of the CarNav Group who provides recruitment, retention and mentoring for student success. “We really need students to develop knowledge and skills so they can contribute to our workforce and community.”

Since 2018, this TDC collaboration of education, business, government, and non-profit organizations set out to create innovative opportunities for community, human, economic and workforce development.  This is the third grant the program has secured. In 2018, TDC received a $150,000 Marshall Plan grant to start a construction pre-apprentice program for 18-24-year-olds. That was followed by a $300,000 private grant from the Ballmer Group. The TDC has been focused on young adults considering careers in the commercial and residential construction industry. Future opportunities will come in medical, IT, energy, and advanced manufacturing.  

Dr. David Strubler, a Pawley Lean Institute professor of Human Resource Development (HRD) at Oakland University said, “With this first TDC program, we are building an ‘interdependent model’ for the future. There are plenty of ideas and resources to prepare our youth for good careers in industry if we work together.”

With the assistance of Teresa Rodges, OU’s Senior Community Engagement officer, Strubler started the TDC initiative with Pastor Douglas Jones, of the Greater Pontiac Community Coalition.

Tim Ruggles, CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Oakland County, joined the TDC team early on. He said, “In addition to fiscal leadership, we provide supervision and hands-on work opportunities for the students. They know they’re building a house for someone in need.”

Oakland County Michigan Works! Director Jennifer Llewellyn and Pontiac Director, Shannell Shelby delivered over $300,000 in wages and workers’ compensation benefits to the students.  “No question. Michigan Works! really works,” added Strubler who acknowledged Llewellyn as an OU-HRD alumnus.

Likewise, Vince Deleonardis, CEO of Auch Construction, has dedicated his time and energy to coordinate with committed trade contractors to provide shadowing experiences for the students with OU’s program director, Dr. Scott Crabill.

The Oakland Literacy Council, led by Director Lisa Machesky, offers students tutoring in math and reading. Funding from the Ballmer Group grant and the Pontiac Promise Zone directed by Coco Moulder ensures scholarships so that students can complete a certificate through Lori Crose, director of OU’s Professional and Continuing Education (PACE) department.

Under the umbrella of the Oakland Intermediate School District, Paul Galbenski, Dean of the Pontiac Oakland Schools Technical Campus Northwest, ushers some of his own students into the pre-apprentice program. In a recent interview he said, “We are all working together so that workforce development gives young people a way to make a living and contribute to our industry partners’ needs. And, we’re looking forward to having Oakland Community College join us with their many trade-related Associate’s degrees.”

If you are an employer or a student interested in learning more about the TDC, contact Ricky Bradford at rrbradford@carnavllc.com or visit www.talentdevelopmentcoalition.com

Scheduled construction pre-apprentice classes start in March, June, and September of 2022. 

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