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Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates Regional Program Receives State ‘Excellence in Practice’ Award

February 2, 2024

A Northwest Michigan regional program in local schools that prioritizes career and college readiness activities with middle and high school students earned a state-level award of excellence at the Michigan Career Education Annual Conference Jan. 29, 2024. 

The Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates (JMG) Region 2 program was awarded an “Excellence in Practice” award for its efforts to pair JMG specialists with students to equip them with knowledge and skills to overcome obstacles and achieve long-term success.

JMG Region 2 includes Char-Em Intermediate School District Career and Technical Education Department, Northwest Ed Career Tech Center, and the Wexford-Missaukee Career Tech Center.

Jim Rummer, Director of Career and Technical Education for Char-Em ISD, said the program’s curriculum has proven to be highly effective, resulting in an impressive 99% graduation rate. He said the success is attributed to the emphasis on fostering connections with the community, post-secondary institutions, along with business and industry partners, while providing continuous support to students throughout their high school career and beyond. 

“We are grateful for the collaboration with our partner agencies and regional ISDs in achieving the distinguished Excellence in Practice Award,” said Rummer. “It wouldn’t be possible without our boots-on-the-ground JMG staff members working with students every school day throughout Northwest Michigan.”

Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates (JMG) is the Michigan affiliate of the national Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) network, one of the largest and most successful student-centered programs that help young people achieve their fullest potential in education and employment. The regional program is overseen by Northwest Michigan Works!, a program of Networks Northwest.

Each model across grade levels has curriculum/competencies that build to the next in order to help continued student growth and success, explained Susan Ward, Youth Services Regional Director for Networks Northwest.

Ward said there are approximately 675 students directly involved with JMG staff in regional middle and high schools, including alternative education settings. The regional program has been recognized for meeting or exceeding program metrics for 7 years in a row, including graduation rate, employment rate, positive outcome rate, connectivity rate, and further education rate. Several JMG specialists from the region have also been individually awarded over the past year for their efforts with students.

“I am proud of the work our JMG specialists do every day to serve students and am thankful to work with such supportive school partners,” said Ward.

All students are welcome to participate in JMG once they have completed the application process and receive permission from their parents or guardians. Once in the program, students are assigned a JMG specialist to assist them in the program and provide supportive services that fit each student’s individual needs. Services may include transportation assistance (gas cards), supplying them with work clothing, tools and other equipment, connecting them to community resources, and helping students advocate for themselves. 

“For many students, the JMG specialist also serves as a role model and someone the student can build a relationship with and also receive support,” said Rummer. “All of these services and the relationship with the JMG specialist are designed to help break down barriers.”

About JMG and Youth Solutions: Northwest Michigan Works! is proud to partner with Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates (JMG) in serving the region’s youth. JMG is the leading program of Youth Solutions, Inc., a premier youth opportunity organization on a mission to equip young people with the skills to overcome barriers and win in education, employment, and in life. The JMG program consists of a comprehensive set of services designed to help young people achieve education and career goals. The purpose of this program is to inspire and connect youth to achieve a future beyond imagination.

Networks Northwest always proves to be a valued resource for our local government planning efforts. No organization does a better job of convening partners, promoting collaboration, and reporting on the data than does Networks Northwest
- Ty Wessell, Leelanau County Commissioner