Local Michigan Works! offender success program achieves highest placement rate in state

Published 12:03 pm Thursday, March 24, 2022

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. — Michigan Works! Berrien, Cass, Van Buren Offender Success program achieved the highest placement rate in the state of Michigan, placing 93.9 percent of those served into employment over the first half of this performance year.

Serving an area of seven counties in lower Michigan, Offender Success has provided more than 25,000 services since 2017 to the returning population, helping individuals remove barriers and gain employment and stability in their lives.

“The reality is that individuals are released from prison every day and they often make their way back to their local communities to begin looking for employment opportunities,” said Kyla Holmes, Offender Success Community Liaison, the Michigan Department of Corrections. “Employers in southwest Michigan should consider working with the offender success team at Michigan Works! as a solution for their hiring challenges. Their annual successes show that this is a great talent pipeline to fill gaps in employment. The offender success team goes above and beyond to provide support for both clients and employers to ensure long term success and stability.”

On average, the team at Michigan Works! assists more than 1,200 individuals a year in four different areas — employment, mental health, social support and residential stability. The targeted interventions aim to reduce crime by having a seamless plan of services, supervision, and opportunities developed with each person with the goal of gaining employment and becoming self-sufficient.

“Our team works closely with many partners in the community, including the MDOC, to create a customized plan for every individual we serve. We find employers that fit the individual’s interest, get them the support they need to be successful, and follow up to make sure the plan we have created is working for them,” said Derek Knuth, Director of Offender Services at Michigan Works! Berrien, Cass, Van Buren. “We have an excellent talent pool to fill the hiring gap that exists in southwest Michigan, and we are hoping to engage more employers,” Knuth added.

Employers that are interested in getting involved with this program are encouraged to contact Derek Knuth at KnuthD@miworks.org.

Michigan Works! of Berrien, Cass, Van specializes in educating, training, and employing individuals of all ages. We work with local businesses to find out what keeps them up at night and help them tackle the most pressing challenges they may face, including attracting and retaining talent. For more information, visit www.miworks.org.