Port Huron, MI - The Community Foundation of St. Clair County and the Economic Development Alliance of St. Clair County are pleased to support young adult success through skilled trades. Through the generosity of the Kusch Family Fund, a donor advised fund at the Community Foundation, the EDA was able to launch ASSET (Advanced Skills Scholarship for Employment and Training) an apprenticeship and certified training scholarship program.

The Kusch’s said, “The ASSET program offers an additional opportunity for St. Clair County young adults to attain the skills required to improve their future. It works cooperatively with local employers to train and hire employees in the skilled trades. It also dovetails with other existing programs such as Complete Your Degree, which are supported by the Community Foundation. We were pleased to have the opportunity to use our donor advised fund at the Foundation to support such a promising program.”

Our region, like many others nationally, has a high demand for skilled workers. Not only do local companies voice concern over the need for talent, but also companies who wish to invest in our region are looking for a talent pool of skilled workers. The EDA brought to light a community need for paths to success outside of a college degree and the Community Foundation had donors with a passion to help support skilled trades through this very promising ASSET program. The ASSET program will provide opportunities like apprenticeship and certified training to underemployed workers as well as young adults seeking a new or different path to gainful employment. Training paid for through this program will lead to a credential for a skill that is transferrable and industry recognized.

The first award under the program has been presented to Darnell Evans of Port Huron. A 2018 graduate of Port Huron High School and father, Darnell was in the metal machining technology program at RESA’s St. Clair TEC Center. He was working in the restaurant industry, not utilizing the manufacturing knowledge he learned at the TEC Center making him a perfect candidate for the ASSET skilled trade program. Thanks to the Kusch’s generosity and passion, Darnell will be receiving an award of $3,000 to continue his metal machining training through a Registered Apprenticeship program offered at Sombur Tools in the Port Huron Industrial Park.

The EDA will be working with employers across St. Clair County, educational institutions and other collaborative partners to connect and provide specifically tailored training programs to advance employee careers to higher skilled positions and higher wages.  Scholarships of up to $3,000 are available for a limited number of candidates.  To be eligible, the candidate must be a St. Clair County resident, sponsored by an employer, able to work, have transportation and be preparing to enroll in a certification/apprenticeship training program.  Grants are not awarded until all requirements are met, including official enrollment.  Sponsors are encouraged to employ the individual during training, provide job shadowing or offer an internship with strong consideration for hiring after completion of the training.  Targeted industries include health care, information technology, advanced manufacturing or construction trades.

 “St. Clair County is in the same situation as many other counties across the county – trying to find enough qualified workers to fill all of the openings in various industries,” says Bruce Seymore, Director of Business and Community Services at the EDA. “Too often, individuals get stuck in a job to pay bills versus finding a career that will allow them to grow as a professional and prosper as an individual. This program is designed to provide assistance to St. Clair County residents who are eager to find a rewarding and fulfilling career,” says Seymore.

The Community Foundation of St. Clair County is one of the oldest foundations in Michigan, and will celebrate its 75th Anniversary in May, 2019.  The Community Foundation has more than $75 million in assets under management.