Since launching a program in May 2022, Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter‘s Oakland80 initiative continues to be successful in placing Career and Education Navigators throughout the county. By removing the barriers to education and training, the initiative has worked hand-in-hand with the Oakland County Michigan Works! local workforce development office to help county residents on their journeys toward successful careers. In their first seven months of working with residents, the Oakland80 navigators have connected with more than 700 residents at more than 200 events around Oakland County and provided in-depth counseling, coaching, and education services to almost 200 people.
Oakland County also allocated American Rescue Plan Act funding to provide direct education and employment supports to residents. Since November 2021, 379 people have received Supportive Services which removed 572 barriers which had prevented them from participating in education, training, and employment related activities. This effort has included support for educational materials, books, fees, housing, transportation, work-related tools and expenses, and more. Oakland County also initiated scholarship programs that not only cover the cost of education, but also the childcare costs that cause so many students to struggle to continue their studies. Since November of 2021, 642 people have received child care scholarships and 295 have gotten education scholarships.
- The navigators assisted a low-income single mother and post-secondary student, who was working part-time as a housekeeper. Because of COVID, the hospitality industry was hit hard, and the woman had her hours reduced. She had difficulty keeping up with payments and fell behind on her utilities. The staff was able to assist with supportive services and other resources so that she could stay in her housing, pay her utilities and continue her education and training. She received an associate’s degree last year, got a job as a Child Care Specialist and enrolled in a Bachelor of Social Work program in the fall.
- An unemployed youth completed a 12-week Robotics training at Oakland Community College that was paid for through a partnership with Oakland County Michigan Works! When he graduated from the training, he was offered a job as an auto body collision apprentice, with Oakland80 purchased the tools for him. He got the job once the apprenticeship was over.
- A part-time employee and full-time post-secondary student was on the verge of having to drop out of school in her last semester of an associate’s degree program in nursing because of an accumulated student loan debt of more than $4,500. An honor student, Oakland80 and Michigan Works teamed up to help cover the tuition costs, fees, loan debt, books, testing and licensing. She received a Registered Nurse License from the State of Michigan in July and found employment at a hospital in August.