Mel Trotter Ministries receives grant to expand Workforce Development Program for homeless

GRAND RAPIDS, MI — Mel Trotter Ministries has been awarded a $25,000 grant from Detroit-based TCF Bank to expand its Workforce Development Programs.

The nonprofit serves the vulnerable homelessness population. Throughout Mel Trotter’s 120-year history, officials say it has been committed to meeting the ever-changing needs of the homeless, including assistance with securing permanent employment.

The grant will allow for curriculums in culinary arts, facilities and grounds keeping, retail, woodworking and carpentry to be developed or broadened.

Dennis Van Kampen, president and CEO of Mel Trotter Ministries, said they are grateful for TCF’s generous grant.

“With our recent merger with Next Step of West Michigan, we are now in a position through our workforce development program to provide individuals experiencing homelessness with the opportunity to develop skills and obtain a sustainable-wage job,’’ Van Kampen said in a Nov. 4 press release.

“This will not only clearly benefit our guests long-term, but will also be a huge benefit to employers and our broader community as well. An expansion of a trained and skilled work force means public savings as a result of a decrease in homelessness.”

Related: West Michigan nonprofits announce merger to combat homelessness, hunger

Qualifications and eligibility for the program include aptitude testing with the goal to see at least 70% of students graduate from the program and go on to secure full-time employment. Mel Trotter expects one to two students in the Workforce Development Programs to advance their education by enrolling in trade schools, college or pursuing other educational opportunities.

“(TCF is) a purpose-driven company, passionate about building stronger individuals, businesses and communities,” said Emmanuel Glover, TCF community development market manager director and CRA officer.

“TCF’s Community Impact Fund supports local organizations because we know that together, we can do even more good in the communities where we live and serve. TCF is proud to make this donation to Mel Trotter Ministries, which provides critical resources to local residents to help Work Force Development Program

The expansion of the programs will be staggered over several months. The woodworking and carpentry curriculum was established on Sept. 1 as a key component of the merger with Next Step of West Michigan.

The retail component is set to begin in winter 2020 in partnership with the nonprofit’s existing thrift stores. The culinary arts course is also expected to begin early 2021 with the support of the recently hired director of food services. The facilities and grounds keeping curriculum is set to begin early spring 2021.

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