26th Generation of Promise Class Graduates

The below is a social contract written on behalf of Focus: HOPE, Generation of Promise Class XXVI.

Division is another form of discrimination
Long past the time of scorching, sun soaked Southern
segregation,
Separation has been centered into the streets of our
home
We have let asphalt borders breed apathy
and in our indifference our city was consumed by
flames—
Flames of hate and rage
Flames intended to burn down systemic subjection
But they only stoked fears of change.

From the streets and divisions, we have risen
From cinders and ashes, we have risen
right along the rebirth of a city and a nation,
A generation of promise:
Minds and eyes open,
searching for education
seeing our diversification
We have learned the value of cooperating over
competing,
dreaming over despairing,
embracing over excluding
loving over loathing,

Divided we may have come but united, despite it, we
stand
We are more than what separates us
We are one
One whole heart beating with hope for humanity,
focused on a future we will change
We are the youth of today, sure, but we are also the
promise of the past, and the solution to the future
Our aim is to fulfill our society duty to seek justice,
diversity, equity, peace
We will not accept silently that which must be changed
silence begets not but isolation, ignorance, and
intolerance
we will act, for others over self, to rectify injustices
Gone long witnessed and long unchallenged

Let this be our illuminated manuscript, letters aglow,
message aglow
Let our full hearts be set ablaze, impassioned and
enlightened
lighting Prometheus’s verdigrised torch;
He sits crossed legged, holding our spirit in one hand and
knowledge in the other
Knowledge given to all not just the few
Be you black, white, or brown—the flame will burn the
same
And brighter than any one pin prick of light is a sea of
lanterns radiating truth,
setting the city aflame once more;
This time a fire built from love and acceptance,
burning anew with the heat of salvation
burning down not but barriers
We hope for better things; it shall rise from the ashes.

GOP Graduation 2017

Generation of Promise brings together high school students from different backgrounds, races and ethnicities across the metropolitan area to build community and leadership skills. Students are encouraged to challenge stereotypes or misconceptions they hold and work to build relationships across divisions.

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Sunday, May 6, 2017, more than 50 high school students successfully completed Focus: HOPE’s 26th Generation of Promise program. Fun fact; last year’s Harvard University’s Valedictorian was a Generation of Promise Graduate.

GOP Graduation 2017(2)

Congrats to all of the Generation of Promise Young Leaders who showcased their leadership and community building skills through this 10-month curriculum. Click here for more information about the program.

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Our Employees Honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

By Alison Gala, Focus: HOPE Communications Volunteer 

“There is a need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence,” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said during his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in 1964. “Man must evolve for all human conflict, a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”

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This mission is one we hold close. The 1967 Detroit Race Riot was one of the most violent urban revolts of the 20th century. Rioters smashed windows and looted stores. Fires spread rapidly and raged out of control, covering 12 square miles. Gunshots echoed through the streets. The violence lasted an estimated five days and nights. Forty-three people were killed. Over 1,000 people were injured and over 7,000 were arrested. The overall property damage totaled about $32 million.

Several important political, economic and social factors triggered the unrest. Key factors included police brutality, lack of affordable housing, segregated schools, wealth disparity and demographic changes. The outlook was bleak.

“Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate,” MLK wrote in his book in 1968. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

Father William Cunningham founded Focus: HOPE in 1968 in response to the Detroit Race Riot the year before. Cunningham was a visionary leader and civil rights activist who marched alongside MLK in Selma, Alabama after “Bloody Sunday”. In the beginning, we were a series of volunteer  projects aimed at restoring the Detroit community. Eventually, with assistance from Eleanor Josaitis, Cunningham’s project turned into the multi-million dollar nonprofit that we are today.

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Focus: HOPE founder, Father William Cunningham
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Focus: HOPE, co-founder Eleanor Josaitis preaching to a crowd on civil rights issues

Our logic was simple: to minimize violence, increase opportunities. Since then, we have worked to provide career training, education, advocacy and support to empower individuals to overcome racism, poverty and injustice in a meaningful way.

On MLK Day, 220 of our employees celebrated the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by volunteering at organizations like the Capuchin Soup Kitchen, Bottomless Toy Chest, Boys & Girls Club, Forgotten Harvest, Cass Community Social Services, Humble Design, Mariners Inn, St. Vincent DePaul, Detroit Rescue Mission and Arts & Scraps. Together, we provided more than 560 hours of service to the metro Detroit community.

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“It was really special to see all of Focus: HOPE donate their MLK Day to serve others in our community,” said Jennifer Presley, Event & Cause Marketing Manager, Focus: HOPE. “It was an amazing MLK Day and was a reminder as to what MLK Day should really be all about.”

As an organization, we have laid a foundation for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. We have given people the tools they need to rise, and have provided what was so desperately needed all along: hope.

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Congratulations to our Earn & Learn Graduates of Fall 2016!

13 individuals on path towards pursing their dreams

Everyone we know wants to be happy, but what does being happy really mean? It means something different to almost everyone. For many, being happy is being able to go to school and study the field of their choice, raising a family and giving them the best life possible, being able to make enough money to travel and see the world, following your dreams, making your family proud, but most importantly, making yourself proud. Many people wish for the things that they know will make them happy but are stalled in advancing their dreams due to some of life’s unfortunate circumstances.  For example, HOPE Village, the neighborhood surrounding our 32-acre campus, has a population where 50% of residents live at or below the poverty line; and fewer than 10% have an associate’s degree or higher. As part of our HOPE Village Initiative, our goal is to that by the year 2031, 100% of those residents will be educationally well-prepared, economically self-sufficient and living in a safe and supportive environment.

Here at Focus: HOPE, we make sure that no matter where you are in life, educationally, economically or socially, you are being provided opportunities that will better your future and lead you on a path towards happiness and independence.

Our Earn & Learn program, which is one out of our many Workforce Development & Education programs, is designed to help individuals between the ages of 18 and 24 in the Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park areas, obtain work skills, set and achieve education goals, and gain work experience. Students who complete the program can expect to obtain skills and education that prepares them for careers in information technology, healthcare, advanced manufacturing, transportation/logistics/distribution or construction based on their personal interests. Students are not required to have a GED or High School diploma to enroll. The fields that Earn & Learn focus on were chosen based on the Metro Detroit economy, numbers of jobs in those fields, and the fact that they offer a salary that provides a good life with opportunity for advancement.

Just a few weeks ago, we had 13 individuals from the Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park area graduate from our Earn & Learn program. These individuals are now on a path to ensuring that their future is bright by reaching their full potential and being empowered to pursue their dreams.

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Since graduating, they all have plans to, or have already begun, furthering their education.

1-1-of-1Gemarro McDaniel started his Certified Driver’s License training at U.S. Truck Driving School on November 9, 2016.

“The skills that this class taught me, I will use for the rest of my life.” said Germarro McDaniel.

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Antuan Mitchell is starting our Fast Track program this coming January, 2017. The coursework in Fast Track stresses academics, time management, teamwork, workplace ethics, and conflict resolution.  Students have the opportunity to earn a nationally recognized certification from the International Business Training Association in Customer Service.

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Robski Neal began Construction Readiness Training at Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation on November 14, 2016.

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Martin Nelson will begin training at our Machinist Training Institute this coming January, 2017.

“I leaned things here that I never expected to learn from Focus: HOPE,” said Martin Nelson. “The things we have learned from the staff are priceless.”

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Paul Peddy has already begun our Tech Hire program. Tech Hire is a partnership between the City of Detroit, Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation, Grand Circus, Southwest Solutions and Focus: HOPE. The training includes soft skills, academics, computer and career exploration. It is 300 hours of IT-career specific training over a 10-week period.

“Once I am finished with Tech Hire, I am going into the ITC program at Focus: HOPE that will start this coming January,” said Paul Peddy.  “I had a vision for what I wanted to do after high school, but the staff here helped me further that vision and build out a plan to put it into action, thank you.”

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Siara Sellers began Construction Readiness Training at Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation on November 14, 2016.

“I was the only woman in this class,” said Siara Sellers. “Thank you to the staff and students for making it so comfortable for me and allowing me to pursue my dreams.”

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Shaquille Williams began his Certified Driver’s License training at U.S. Truck Driving School on November 9, 2016.

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Markese Greer also began his Certified Driver’s License training at U.S. Truck Driving School on November 9, 2016.

“Thank you to the staff for all of the wisdom you shared with us,” said Markese Greer. “Everyone, including my class mates, pushed me to reach my full potential and the staff even helped me fix my credit score.”

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Bilal Bell-Muhammad is beginning the Grand Circus Experience IT Program through the Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation this January, 2017.

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Raynard Phillips is also beginning the Grand Circus Experience IT Program through the Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation this January, 2017.

“What I have learned through Earn & Learn, gave me confidence that I never had before,” said Raynard Phillips. “If this class is a view into our future, I know we are all going to be successful.”

Not Pictured:

Gregory Holden started his Certified Driver’s License training at U.S. Truck Driving School on November 9, 2016.

Mystical Williams is training at our Machinist Training Institute this coming January, 2017.

Malik Lyles began the Diesel Mechanic Repair Program at Detroit Department of Transportation on November 14, 2016.

We are so proud of our Earn & Learn graduates and can’t wait to watch them succeed and pursue their dreams. If you wish to find out more information about any of our Workforce Development & Education programs, please go to www.focushope.edu or contact 313.494.4300.

Our Business Village is Now Open!

Offering affordable and local resources for entrepreneurs & start-ups in Detroit

Meet Harriette Brown. A wife, a mother, a lover of food and Chef Bee of Sisters on a Roll Mobile Café & Catering.

“The past 27 years have been a flavor filled journey, as I see food as both an art form & a universal gift to be shared by all,” Said Harriette Brown. “It is my privilege to share with you food prepared from the heart with the soul in mind, bringing you the flavor of love one bite at a time.”

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Harriette Brown has a background in outreach ministry and has always lived her life helping others. Harriette Brown has a passion for  helping people in her community, and entrepreneurship.

“I never thought that I’d have my own business,” said Harriette Brown. “Helping others is my life long dream, having this business allows me to give more back.”

Before successfully launching Sister’s on a Roll, Mobile Cafe & Catering, Harriette Brown was wondering how she could turn her passion into a reality. How did she go from, I wish I could, to I am? Prosperous classes at Focus: HOPE.

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ProsperUS Detroit is a place-based economic development strategy designed to empower low and moderate income, immigrant and minority individuals. They have long-teamed up with us, Focus: HOPE, to aid in our community revitalization efforts that include developing a comprehensive program of supports for cultivating our HOPE Village business community. This consists of a series of training, workshops, a co-working space and technical assistance to entrepreneurs and small business owners. Detroit has always been strong, but lately, the development and activity it is seeing is in hyper speed with Detroit becoming a top destination for entrepreneurs, start-ups and small businesses.

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Photo courtesy of Sasaki Associates via Huffington Post

Detroit is built strong, but the statistical inner-city issues are still there. One neighborhood that we focus on, HOPE Village, which immediately surrounds our campus, has close to 50% of its residents living below the poverty line.  HOPE Village is part of our HOPE Village Initiative whose goal is by the year 2031, 100% of HOPE Village residents will be educationally well prepared, economically self-sufficient and living in a safe and supportive environment.

So how did Harriette Brown make her dreams a reality with the help of Focus: HOPE & ProsperUs Detroit? A few years ago, she agreed to pick up a friend from Focus: HOPE’s ProsperUs class. As she was waiting for the class to end, Focus: HOPE mentor and Manager of Neighborhood and Economic Revitalization, HOPE Village Initiative, Judith Williams, urged her to stay for the last hour to see if she would be interested in attending an upcoming session. Harriet Brown liked what she took away from the last hour of the workshop and signed up for the next session that involved entrepreneurship training programs and support services with the thought, “maybe this could really work” and the drive to make her dream a reality.

Fast forward a few years to October 20th, 2016, the Grand Opening of our Business Village, and Harriette Brown, from Sisters on a Roll Mobile Catering & Services, was our caterer; and a delicious one at that.

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Harriette Brown, Sisters on a Roll Mobile Catering & Services 

“Judith Williams has been encouraging,  supportive and inspirational to me by helping me pursue my dreams,” said Harriette Brown. “I’m forever grateful to
Focus: HOPE and ProsperUS for propelling me forward in making my dreams a reality.”

Our Business Village is officially open! The Business Village is an office space that allows entrepreneurs, bloggers, small businesses, start-ups and more, to rent out office space at an affordable price in collaboration with ProsperUs Detroit. Our Business Village offers local, neighborhood residents affordable space that is nearby, and the resources and help that are essential in successfully launching small businesses, start-ups, websites and more. We want to make sure that we are helping the people who grew up in Detroit, have lived in Detroit and are not leaving Detroit and help them reach their full potential.

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Jason Lee, CEO, Focus: HOPE; Judith Williams, Manager, Neighborhood and Economic Revitalization, HOPE Village Initiative; Elaine Gardner, Assistant, Focus: HOPE; Juanita Maxwell, Assistant, Focus: HOPE  

When members purchase a plan, they get office space, a conference room available for meetings and brainstorm sessions, laptop rentals, flash drives and cabinet space. We also offer drop-in rates and a la carte items for one time uses.

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Business Village Conference Room 

Focus: HOPE mentors are available to help with marketing needs, research, and finding the correct resources that fit your goals and plans.

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Our Business Village is in collaboration with ProsperUs Detroit, which will continue to offer entrepreneur classes and workshops to our Business Village members that aid in our goal of developing a comprehensive program of supports for cultivating Focus: HOPE’s, HOPE Village business community.

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Krista Contreras and Joanna Dueweke, ProsperUs Detroit 

“The whole idea of co-working is to bring bright, creative people together and let the ideas collide.” Said Judith Williams, Manager, Neighborhood and Economic Revitalization, HOPE Village Initiative.

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JP Morgan Chase colleagues attending our grand opening 

For more information on our Business Village, please contact Judith Williams at 313-494-4351 or businessvillage@focushope.edu.