Kalamazoo Valley Community College, in partnership with Western Michigan University and Urban Alliance, will hold a special graduation Thursday, January 11 for the Momentum/ Warehouse Management and Inventory Control Academy graduates. Thirteen students, all of whom have faced significant barriers to employment, will walk the stage at WMU’s Fetzer Center with new skills and job opportunities under their belts. The three organizations joined forces to offer advanced technical training in the growing field of warehouse management and inventory control to students in Urban Alliance’s Momentum Urban Employment Initiative, a program that helps participants build self-sufficiency and overcome obstacles to gainful employment. Forty percent of those who enrolled in the program in the past year were homeless. Eighty-eight percent were ex-offenders and 79% came from generational poverty. The accelerated 13-day training program took place at the new 40,000-square-foot Urban Alliance Technical Center in Parchment.
“It was an extraordinary collaboration,” said Elizabeth Bernhard, director of Career and Continuing Education at Kalamazoo Valley. “It was amazing to witness the academy students working together as a team, maturing and blossoming.”
Urban Alliance’s Momentum Urban Employment Initiative has proven to be one of the most successful employment programs in the county. Eighty-four percent of those enrolled in the program successfully graduated and 94% were successfully placed into employment with an average starting wage of $11.96 per hour. Graduates also maintained an 86% success rate for employment retention beyond 90 days.
In the past two years, the Momentum Urban Employment Initiative has run eight successful training academies in partnership with Kalamazoo Valley in the fields of Culinary and Sustainable Food Systems, Production Technician and CNC Machine Operator – putting more than 89 people into the workforce. The Warehouse Management/Inventory Control Academy is the first collaboration between the three organizations, with other training academies in the areas of Quality Control, Coding, Call Center Technician, and Diesel Technician in development.
“This has taught us that it takes collaboration to transform a community,” Bernhard said. “We’ve come together to transform lives and look forward to the continuation of this great partnership with WMU and Urban Alliance.”