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Focus Hope; Education, Opportunity and Community

By Thomas C. Weiss - 2015-01-12

Summary

Organization dedicated to practical intelligent solutions to issues of economic disparity, hunger, education and racial divisiveness.

"Via Focus:HOPE's career training programs, almost 12,000 talented women and men have established careers that pay sustainable wages."

Main Document

In the year 1968, Eleanor Josaitis and Father William Cunningham founded Focus: HOPE, and organization that is dedicated to practical and intelligent solutions to the issues of economic disparity, hunger, inadequate education and racial divisiveness. The two of them joined together and adopted the mission statement below.

'Recognizing the dignity and beauty of every person, we pledge intelligent and practical action to overcome racism, poverty and injustice. And to build a metropolitan community where all people may live in freedom, harmony, trust and affection. Black and white, yellow, brown and red from Detroit and its suburbs of every economic status, national origin and religious persuasion we join in this covenant.' —Adopted March 8, 1968

From the organization's modest start it has grown to become a nationally renowned civil and human rights organization that diligently works to bridge the racial divide in southeast Michigan through a food program, the HOPE Village Initiative, as well as Career training programs. The Commodity Supplemental Food Program through Focus:HOPE was established in the year 1971 and assists mothers, low-income seniors over the age of 60 and children up to the age of six. Over a 40 year period of time, Focus:HOPE has been providing canned and packaged food for 21 million people who struggle to survive on small incomes.

Via Focus:HOPE's career training programs, almost 12,000 talented women and men have established careers that pay sustainable wages. The graduates broke the gender and race barriers in the machinist trades and have helped diversify the workforce in the information tech and engineering areas.

Since the middle of the 1990's, Focus:Hope's community development and community arts programs have improved the quality of life for people in its surrounding neighborhood. The organization's efforts were expanded in the year 2009 with the launch of the new HOPE Village Initiative. The program is committed to supporting academic achievement of children who live in the neighborhoods around the Focus:HOPE campus. The HOPE Village Initiative's goal is to make this particular area of the city a desirable place to live, work and raise a family.

Focus:HOPE's holistic approach has found the organization receiving numerous awards and citations from state and federal governments, private institutions and national corporations. Since the time of its inception, the organization has touched thousands of people. Today, Focus:HOPE remains committed to their initial mission to pledge intelligent and practical action to overcome racism, injustice and poverty.

Focus:HOPE and Education

Focus:HOPE, since beginning career-preparation programs in the year 1981, has helped almost 12,000 talented women and men to establish successful careers. The people involved generated in excess of $1.2 Billion in economic activity. The curriculum for the organization's programs has been developed in partnership with area employers in order to ensure the organization's students develop skills that employers need and value. Focus:HOPE offers people a nurturing environment with a range of clothing, emergency food and shelter. Students also have access to:

GED Preparation: The Education Experience GED Tutoring program at Focus:HOPE helps adults over the age of 18 to earn their GED through personal assistance and tutoring.

Information Management and Systems Engineering (IMSE): The organization's dynamic college degree program combines information technology and business courses with the goal of producing well-rounded IT professionals.

Machinist Training Institute (MTI): Focus:HOPE's new 12-week machinist training program provides people with hands-on training to become a machine operator. The program also provides an introduction to computerized applications such as CNC operations.

Ready, Set, Go!: The Ready, Set, Go! Program is a skill enhancement one that helps students upgrade their reading and math skills through concentrated study. Tutoring, small class sizes and personalized attention help students to improve their test scores by as much as 2 grades in 10 weeks. Students also learn work readiness and study skills.

Center for Advanced Technologies (CAT): Focus:HOPE students can earn a college degree in engineering through a unique collaboration with industry and university partners. Students receive hands-on work experience through internships and in Focus:HOPE's manufacturing area where the organization conducts research and development for the United States Government.

Earn and Learn: The program is new and provides access to jobs for at-risk adults and minority young people who have been incarcerated or experience chronic unemployment. The program targets residents of Highland Park, Detroit and Hamtramick. Students, through Focus:HOPE, take 4 weeks of job readiness training prior to being placed in part-time jobs. As they work, students are also enrolled in advanced education and training.

Focus:HOPE's High School Program: Focus:HOPE launched a College Bound Career Ready program that allows high school students to pursue job training and basic college courses on a part-time basis while they are in their junior and senior years. The program's goal is to prepare students for immediate employment after they graduate or to enter college without having to take either basic or remedial courses. Focus:HOPE also has certificate programs available.

Information Technologies Center (ITC): Focus:HOPE has a highly-regarded Information Technologies Center that provides training for industry certifications. Students may enroll in classes ranging from 12.5-53 weeks in length to develop credentials to launch careers in the Information Technologies industries. Depending on the particular program, students with Focus:HOPE can earn certifications in Microsoft Office Specialist, Comp TIA A+, Certified Business Professional Customer Service Support, Cisco Certified Network Administrator and additional areas of pursuit.

Focus:HOPE and Community Transformation

Focus:HOPE's Village Initiative's goal is to develop a safe, nurturing and strong neighborhood where children and their family members can develop to their full-potential. In order to accomplish its goals, Focus:HOPE offers an interconnected web of support and opportunities with education as a center-piece. The organization expects to build a community where people want to work, live and raise their families, as well a place where children have every opportunity to achieve their greatest potentials.

The organization's initiative is inspired by the adage that it, “takes a village to raise a child.” Resembling the Harlem Children's Zone in New York, the HOPE Village Initiative brings together the resources needed to transform their community. Parents, businesses, retirees, block clubs, educators and others are already working together to create opportunities for children. Initially, the HOPE Village initiative concentrated on the area immediately around the Focus:HOPE campus. The area is one of considerable poverty, deteriorating housing stock and a very low rate of educational attainment. The organization, working with 2 schools in the neighborhood, aims to transform educational opportunities for children in the neighborhood.

The Family Learning Center through Focus:HOPE provides support services for parents and their children. Services offered include computer literacy courses, access to computers with Internet service, tutoring, financial literacy courses and more.

Senior Living Community: Seniors who are looking for convenient and affordable housing in the area should contact Focus:HOPE. The Village of Oakman Manor offers people spacious, 1-bedroom apartments with full kitchens and access to a fitness center, beauty/barber shop and additional amenities.

Focus:HOPE and Nutritious Food

Food is something that should not be a luxury item; sadly it is for many people struggling to survive on low-incomes. Every month, Focus:HOPE distributes nutritionally-balanced foods to 38,000 seniors. Since the year 1971, the organization has assisted more than 21.7 million people by providing commodity foods that are equivalent to an excess of 501 million meals. Food is distributed through the organization's 4 food centers to people who meet the income guidelines. To help with selection of food, signs in the food centers are in 3 languages: Spanish, English and Arabic. On occasion, there are food demonstrations to show people how to prepare a number of dishes with the commodities.

Program Participants and Special Services

Focus: HOPE works with other sources to provide many health and information services to participants in their food program. The prior year found the organization administering free flu shots to more than 300 people, as well as eye examinations to 165 people. DTE Energy set up an office in the Westside Food Center to help people to get assistance before their heat was shut off.

Forgotten Harvest regularly brings fresh food collected from grocery stores to Focus:HOPE for distribution. Last year, greater than 2 million pounds of fresh food was distributed through the organization's food centers. Garden City Hospital’s Health Coach visits the Inkster Food Center on the first Wednesday of each month, providing wound evaluations, cholesterol, blood pressure, hearing and diabetes screenings.

Volunteers from the Accounting Aid Society provided tax preparation services to 2,003 low-income families and individuals last tax season. Due to the services provided, people received $1,959,855 in tax refunds; money that will be spent locally and stimulate the local economy. The volunteers provided tax form assistance to 16,740 people since the year 2004 with a resulting $15,736,280 in refunds to local residents.

Focus: HOPE; Education, Opportunity and Community
http://www.focushope.edu/Default.aspx

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