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Grant aids JVS job program for people with disabilities

The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, through the Detroit Auto Dealers Association Charitable Foundation Endowment Fund, has awarded JVS a $36,400 grant for Pathways to Careers, which helps people with disabilities develop work skills and gain employment in the community. JVS is seeking employers to participate in this initiative.

JVS will use the grant to fund a payroll tax adjustment for any employer who hires a participant in the Pathways program. The employer can then apply the savings from lower payroll taxes to offset the cost of support, tools or special equipment that might be needed to help the individual succeed in the workplace. 

Antonio Anderson, JVS Pathways to Careers participant,and Ashton Grobbel, director of business development for Action Wood 360⁰

“We are very excited about the award and hope this is a steppingstone to expanding the program,” said Jim Willis, vice president of Workforce Development at JVS. “We want to continue to grow this exciting, impactful program in Michigan, and this grant will help us attract more employers.”

Although the Community Foundation award is not the first time a foundation has supported the Pathways initiative, this award is the first to specifically fund the payroll tax adjustment for participating employers in the Detroit area.

“This grant provides confirmation of the appeal of the payroll tax adjustment to employers,” Willis said. “It reinforces that employers are willing to engage with individuals with disabilities looking for work through innovative programs like Pathways to Careers.”

Pathways interns undergo an extensive discovery process to identify their skills, interests and abilities. Individuals are then matched with employers for 8-12-week internships at no cost to the employer. If all goes well, the internship may lead to a job offer.

That’s what happened with Antonio Anderson of New Baltimore. Anderson desired hands-on work where he could see a finished product. Through Pathways, JVS found a good match at Action Wood 360⁰, a Clinton Township custom wood manufacturing business that specializes in custom shipping containers.

“Action Wood 360⁰ fully supports minority and disabled workers,” said Ashton Grobbel, director of business development. “My father, Chris Grobbel, who started this business, is disabled. We thought it would be great to give Antonio an opportunity to see what he could do because sometimes these diamonds in the rough are hard to find. And sure enough, we got one. When I first met Antonio, he was very shy. But, a couple of guys took him under their wings and he’s been thriving.”

Anderson is appreciative of the support from the JVS Pathways staff.

“They taught me how to have a job, respect the job and be good at it,” he said. “At the end of my internship, everybody was there. They were like, ‘Congratulations, you got the job.’ It felt good, like I had completed something and it wasn’t easy — it was hard.”

JVS is one of four agencies in the country to receive funding from SourceAmerica to implement Pathways, which is based upon a successful model launched seven years ago in Utah.

Employers interested in learning more can contact Bill Hielscher at (248) 795-8943 or whielscher@jvsdet.org.

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