Workforce Prep is our structured and evidence-based four-year program that we rolled out in the 2018-19 school year. Students are immersed in an experiential curriculum that transforms them into self-reliant, employable, and productive adults with defined academic and career goals, and highly desirable workforce skills.
Students enter Workforce Prep in tenth grade and are matched with local business professionals who mentor them throughout the year. The curriculum includes career exploration, life and soft skills development, and foundational competencies.
“Before the tenth-grade program, I was just dabbling in art and really didn’t know what I wanted to do. I wasn’t focused on my future,” said Pier. “My mentor pushed me to do more and helped me realize that I want to work for Disney, creating animations.”
In the second year of Workforce Prep (eleventh grade), Pier and other students at Harper Woods High School and Warren Mott High School will be matched with career coaches who will help them throughout the year develop strategic career plans and explore core business functions. The centerpiece to this year is career experiences that will include a company rotation with Lear Corporation or Magna Seating. Students will rotate through four key business departments at either company to understand how a business works. For example, at Lear, students will use market research to develop and defend a sales plan, and create a financial statement using data from multiple departments. At Magna Seating, students will troubleshoot and repair malfunctioning computer equipment and use a catapult-like device to learn about data collection and how it’s used in engineering for decision making and problem solving. The year will also include a mock networking event with business professionals, hands-on exploration of careers at a job experience fair, and pitching their education and career plans to company representatives.
“I’m really excited for this upcoming year,” said Pier. “Learning about all these different business functions will help me with my career and my future.”
The third and fourth year of Workforce Prep will be rolled out in subsequent years as students progress through the program. The third-year program (twelfth grade) will focus on education and career planning, and human resources skills development. The fourth year will include support and services for students who are continuing their education in college or trade school.
“Workforce Prep is a game changer,” said Frank Orsini, executive vice president and president of Lear's Seating business, and vice-chair of the Winning Futures Board of Directors. “The program is not only helping students see a bright future, it’s preparing them to face and overcome challenges so they can achieve a bright future.”
Aidan Watkins is a motivated and smart young man. Raised mostly by his mom and sisters, he excelled in school and sports. It wasn’t until sometime in his teens that he began to feel like something was missing.
“My dad was never around,” said Aidan. “For guys, it’s really hard to come out and talk about certain things, especially if you never had a male role model in your life. Someone you could talk to. Someone who would listen and understand what you’re going through and give you advice.”
Aidan participated in our 10th grade Workforce Prep program at Harper Woods High School this past school year. He was mentored by local businessman and basketball coach, Chavell Crofford, director at Ready Set Media.
“Aidan is a special kid. I really admire him and his spirit,” said Chavell. “We talked about his father not being in the picture and how it affected him. And I could relate because I didn’t have a father in my life.”
Chavell took Aidan under his wing and over the course of the school year, helped Aidan improve his grades, and explore career paths. More importantly, he provided Aidan with guidance and support.
“Chavell is my role model,” said Aidan. “He helped me realize that I’m important and that my words matter. He taught me not to focus on the negative and how to be a better communicator and leader.”
As our tradition goes, the final class of the school year is a celebration during which mentors present their students with awards and recognitions.
“I gave him the GOAT award – greatest of all time,” said Chavell. “Not once in my years of mentoring have I come across a kid like Aidan. Some kids say, ‘I’ll try’ and ’maybe’.” Aidan bought in and showed amazing spirit, enthusiasm, positive attitude, and willingness to participate. He isn’t walking down the path to success, he’s running down that path.”
Aidan ended the school year in grand fashion, winning our Student of the Year Award at Harper Woods High School. He spent the summer working part-time jobs at LifeBUILDERS and Chandler Park Academy and is excited for the new school year. He’s especially looking forward to participating in year two of our four-year Workforce Prep program.
High school wasn’t a “happy place” for Rosa Majeed. She self-admittedly describes herself then as a smart and somewhat nerdy kid, and teacher’s pet. As a young Arabic woman, she endured judgmental comments and sneering looks from peers who didn’t know her or understand her culture.
Rosa’s home life wasn’t much better. Her parents were divorcing and there was lots of internal family conflict.
“I felt very sad,” said Rosa. “I didn’t want to be there or do anything. I didn’t have a light at the end of my tunnel.”
Rosa’s grades began to decline. Her once cheery demeanor turned glum and her outlook was dreary.
“I didn’t think I would go to college. I didn’t think I would graduate from high school.”
Rosa participated in our program at Warren Mott High School where she was mentored by Carol Visconti, vice president of member services at Extra Credit Union. With Carol’s help, Rosa learned how to study and organize her time, and most importantly, that there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.
“The Winning Futures curriculum was excellent because it helped Rosa open up and see some things in herself that were good – her attributes and what she had to offer the world,” said Carol. “No one ever told her or helped her realize that she was important and had value.”
“There was this activity where we built a tower made of uncooked spaghetti noodles and marshmallows,” said Rosa. “If you didn’t build a solid foundation, your tower would fall down. Carol and Winning Futures helped me rebuild my personal foundation with better confidence and better perspective.”
Rosa’s grades significantly improved. She won a Winning Futures scholarship, graduated from Warren Mott High School in 2012, and later earned an Emergency Medical Technician certificate from Baker College. Today she works as the marketing liaison for St. Mary’s Rehabilitation – a three-facility physical therapy practice.
“Without Winning Futures and Carol, the insight and caring, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have graduated from high school and I wouldn’t be where I am now,” said Rosa. “I believe in my heart that Winning Futures saved my life.”
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Seven receive Student of the Year award
Our Student of the Year Award recognizes outstanding performance and accomplishment by students who are currently in our program. One student from each participating school receives the award. This year’s recipients received their awards at our 25th Anniversary Awards Celebration. They include:
- Dylan Brown, Madison High School, Madison Heights
- Ashley Czartoryski, Warren Mott High School, Warren
- Andre’a Garwood, Mumford High School, Detroit
- Jordan Manning, Pontiac Academy for Excellence, Pontiac
- Taylor Singleton, Cass Technical High School, Detroit
- Aidan Watkins, Harper Woods High School, Harper Woods
“I learned how to stay focused, accomplish goals, have integrity, and always be respectful,” said Andre’a Garwood, Winning Futures Student of the Year at Mumford High School.
Four students and seven alumni receive $25,000 in scholarships for college or trade school
Since 1994, more than $1.9 million has been awarded to students through our scholarship program. This year’s awards were presented at our 25th Anniversary Awards Celebration.
Our new Alumni Scholarship is awarded to current or former students who are enrolled in college or trade school, or have plans to do so. Seven students received this scholarship totaling $20,000. The first ever recipients were:
- Brittani Lipsey, Harper Woods High School, Harper Woods
- Dipita Das, Cass Technical High School, Detroit
- Jose House, Jr., Cass Technical High School, Detroit
- Austin Brown, Madison High School, Madison Heights
- Mark Daiowd, Warren Mott High School, Warren
- Katie Filion, Warren Mott High School, Warren
- Mario Hanna, Warren Mott High School, Warren
“For years, I was afraid to speak about my dreams because I did not have a plan,” said Brittani Lipsey, Alumni Scholarship recipient. “Winning Futures helped me develop a career plan and learn important skills like goal setting, financial literacy, and success planning. I just completed my first year at the University of Michigan and I’ll soon enroll in the College of Engineering. I can say with confidence that I have Winning Futures to thank for this.”
Named in honor of our founder, Sam Cupp, and his mentor, Gene Hamilton from Hamilton Chevrolet, our Cupp-Hamilton Scholarship is awarded to exceptional students who complete and excel in a competitive application process which includes an online application, essay, and formal business interviews. Four students received this scholarship totaling $5,000. The recipients were:
- Regina AlSabagh, Community High School, Sterling Heights
- Peter Dao, Community High School, Sterling Heights
- Camryn Floyd, Community High School, Sterling Heights
- Jannatul Mawa, Community High School, Sterling Heights
“Winning Futures helped me build a better version of myself,” said Jannatul Mawa, Winning Futures Cupp-Hamilton Scholarship recipient. “The program taught me how to set short and long-term goals, and how to achieve them.”
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Celebrating our 25th anniversary with 25 students from the past 25 years.
When Angelica Tibbitts was a kid, life was tough. Her family was poor and, at times, homeless. Her mom suffered from debilitating illness and her dad was nowhere to be found. With help from her mentor, Tamara Taylor, prototype build engineer at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Angelica was the first in her family to graduate from high school (Pontiac Academy for Excellence) and just completed her freshman year at Saginaw Valley State University where she is studying education and communications.
James Payne was a smart kid but not a great student. At Madison High School he earned mostly C’s. His mentor, Bob Foyt, retired senior director of maintenance and engineering at JHP Pharmaceuticals, helped him find his passion and put together a strategic education and career plan. James significantly improved his grades, graduated from high school, and is now pursuing his dream of becoming an engineer.
In celebration of our 25th anniversary, we identified 25 former students from the past 25 years, just like Angelica and James, who exemplify the importance and impact of our program.
Learn more about Angelica, James, and our other 25 From 25 representatives!