When Charley enrolled in our Southwest Solutions’ My Next Move program, it was not exactly by her choice.
Charley was already participating in our Youth Assistance Program (YAP) through a referral from Right TRAC (Taking Responsibility and Accepting Consequences). Right TRAC is an initiative from the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office that allows a community-based alternative for low-risk juvenile offenders, rather than the traditional juvenile court process.
In YAP, Charley was taking the anger management and the life skills workshops under the guidance of Anthony Graham, a prevention specialist with YAP. Anthony strongly recommended to Charley that she participate in My Next Move, too.
“Everything that I asked and required of Charley, she not only did it, but also dedicated herself to it and even took a liking to it,” Anthony said. “She is an impressive young woman.”
My Next Move serves youth 15-21 years old who live in southwest Detroit. The program teaches about career development, job readiness, life and leadership skills, and financial literacy. It also provides tutoring in math, reading and GED preparation, as needed. Classes meet three evenings a week for six months, and participants receive a stipend.
Charley is one of the graduates of the third cohort of My Next Move. Because of the pandemic, classes were held virtually.
“I appreciate the program a lot because it really helped me think about my future and be proactive in setting and working toward my goals, which are to get my high school degree, get a car, get a stable job, and get an apartment of my own,” said Charley, who is completing her junior year.
James is also a high school junior. He decided to enroll in My Next Move after a friend in the previous cohort recommended the program. Now as a program graduate, he is recommending it to others.
“My Next Move helped me with time management and focusing on my priorities and future responsibilities,” James said. “I enjoyed the teamwork, even on Zoom. I also thought the math tutoring and job preparation workshops were excellent.”
James plans to go to a trade school after high school. His father is an electrician, and James already has a path to follow in his footsteps. For other My Next Move students who are interested in job training opportunities and who are 18 or older, the program offers that option.
Noemy will be graduating from high school this year. Her next move is to obtain her driver’s license, get a job, and travel.
“I am a shy person, and My Next Move helped me with my communication skills through the teamwork and leadership lessons,” said Noemy, whose therapist at Southwest Solutions recommended that she participate in the program. “I feel more motivated and confident to try new things and achieve my goals.”
Noemy added that her math and reading skills improved from the tutoring that My Next Move provided. Each participant is tested on those skills at the beginning and end of the program. All the students in the cohort showed an increase in test scores, according to Cieara Edwards, Program Coordinator.
Cieara emceed the virtual graduation event, assisted by Lilly Solomon, Youth Peer Support Specialist. In addition to Charley, James and Noemy, these students also completed the latest cohort of My Next Move and participated in the graduation:
For their capstone project in the program, each student formulated a small business idea and plan. Students not only enjoyed the entrepreneurial exercise, but expressed that it inspired them to think differently about career options in the future.
My Next Move is overseen by Gwenneth Marshall and Marquita Felder at our Children, Youth and Families division. The program is a collaboration between Southwest Counseling Solutions and Southwest Economic Solutions. It is sponsored by Bridgeway Services.