FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Contact: Melissa Thrasher
SEMCA PR Specialist
Michigan Works! Youth Program Helps Individuals Overcome Barriers to Education and
Taylor, MI, June 5th, 2008 – High school dropouts or youth on the verge of leaving school can
get the help they need to succeed in Michigan’s workforce as a result of a youth program
spearheaded by Michigan Works! service centers in Wayne County.
Administered by the Southeast Michigan Community Alliance (SEMCA), youths can receive
services year-round from the following Michigan Works! locations: Livonia, Dearborn,
Southgate, Wayne, and Highland Park. Eligible participants can receive GED training and career
guidance among other things.
“The purpose is to keep youth engaged in positive behaviors while completing their education
and plans for the future,” said Susan Corey, workforce development manager of SEMCA.
The program targets mostly at-risk youth ages 17-21 years old, however, individuals 14 and older
can enroll. To be a participant, individuals must have little or no income and possess at least one
barrier. The centers typically service high school dropouts, young parents and foster youth.
“One of our priorities is intervention – reaching out to youth at a critical time,” said Gregory
Pitoniak, chief executive officer of SEMCA. “As a result of the resources available, youth can
make smart choices about their future,” said Pitoniak.
Joy Mason, director of youth services for the Michigan Works! Wayne Service Center, said youth
have many options to choose from at the centers. “The youth we serve have little or no
employment history, so they are given an opportunity to participate in internships,
apprenticeships or a Paid Work Experience program,” said Mason.
Lisa Wayne, program manager for the Michigan Works! Southgate Service Center, said their
number one focus is helping youth increase their basic skills or obtain a GED, two areas needed
prior to employment.
Rita Hales Hurtt, former participant and mother of two children, said the program encouraged her
to be determined and responsible.
“They (staff) kept telling me a GED is what I needed to succeed,” said Hurtt. After only a few
months in the program, Hurtt received her GED and is employed at a group home. Hurtt aspires
to be a nurse and has plans to attend college in the fall.
“The majority of youth find employment in the service, manufacturing or medical industries,”
said Lisa Wayne, program manager for the Michigan Works! Southgate Service Center.
According to Michigan Works! experts, it is typical for participants to move on to post-secondary
Najwa Hadous, employment and training operations manager for the Dearborn Michigan Works!
Service Center, said we want to help youth receive training and credentials that respond to market
The Southeast Michigan Community Alliance (SEMCA) administers human service programs
throughout Wayne and Monroe counties excluding the city of Detroit.