Mel Trotter lands $25K workforce development grant

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From left, Beth Fisher, VP communication and advancement, Mel Trotter Ministries; Tim Swiney, chief campaign officer, Mel Trotter Ministries; Michael Sytsma, SVP, market manager, TCF Bank. Courtesy Mel Trotter Ministries

A nonprofit that serves individuals experiencing homelessness was awarded a grant to expand its workforce development programs.

Grand Rapids-based Mel Trotter Ministries said Wednesday that it was awarded a $25,000 grant from TCF Bank to be used to expand its workforce development (WFD) programs for its guests.

Mel Trotter works to meet the “ever-changing and challenging” needs of those experiencing homelessness — including building pathways to helping them secure permanent employment. The grant will allow the development and/or broadening of newly created curriculums in the areas of culinary arts, facilities and groundskeeping, retail, and woodworking and carpentry.

The qualifications and eligibility for entering the WFD curriculum include aptitude testing of the prospective students, with primary goals for the program to see at least 70% of students graduate from the curriculum and subsequently secure full-time employment. Additionally, Mel Trotter expects one to two students in the WDF program to advance their education by enrolling in trade schools, attending college or pursuing other educational opportunities.

“We are profoundly grateful to have received this generous grant from TCF Bank,” said Dennis Van Kampen, president and CEO of Mel Trotter Ministries.

“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. 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 workforce means public savings as a result of a decrease in homelessness.”

Emmanuel Glover, community development market manager director and CRA officer for TCF, called Mel Trotter a “purpose-driven company, passionate about building stronger individuals, businesses and communities.”

“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,” Glover said. “TCF is proud to make this donation to Mel Trotter Ministries, which provides critical resources to local residents.”

The expansion of the WFD Program will happen gradually in the next few months. As part of Mel Trotter’s acquisition of Next Step of West Michigan, the woodworking and carpentry curriculum began Sept. 1. In partnership with Mel Trotter’s existing thrift stores, the retail component is set to begin in early winter 2020. Through the existing cafeteria and with the support of MTM’s recently hired director of food services, who is a trained chef, the culinary arts course is expected to begin early 2021. The facilities and groundskeeping curriculum is scheduled to begin early spring 2021.

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