The Greater Ann Arbor Region’s (GAAR’s) Prosperity Initiative announces six challenge grant awards that will support the implementation of the region’s Five-year Prosperity Strategy. Projects will primarily focus on growing and attracting talent to meet regional industry needs.

Through a competitive application process, the GAAR management team selected the following organizations for their innovative approaches to grow and retain the region’s talent pipeline: Jonesville Community Schools, Lenawee Now, Livingston Educational Service Agency, Michigan Broadband Cooperative, Monroe Community College, and Monroe County Intermediate School District.

“We are excited to support these six organizations as they take on ambitious projects that will help us achieve objectives in our strategy,” said Steven Duke, executive director of the Region 2 Planning Commission. “Each of the challenge grant brings a fresh approach to equipping young people and adults with the skills they need to strengthen the region’s economy while meeting the demands of a highly trained labor force.”

Each of the six challenge grant partners will serve a specific but complementary need in the GAAR:

  • Jonesville Community Schools, who has partnered with GAAR in the past, has created a strategy to assist vulnerable and underserved populations to pursue training and education in high-demand occupations.
  • Lenawee Now will bring together stakeholders—such as employers, students, teachers, parents, counselors, and service providers—to determine what type of talent exists and is needed across all six counties in the region.
  • Livingston Educational Service Agency will build on its county-wide implementation of MI Bright Future, a software program that allows K–12 students to engage in work-related experiences so they can better decide what career pathway matches their skills and interests. It also serves as a tool for all stakeholders to improve cross-county communication.
  • Michigan Broadband Cooperative will perform a comprehensive assessment that will determine the effects that broadband access has on economic opportunities and identify local needs to address shortcomings.
  • Monroe Community College and its partners have designed a pilot workforce development boot camp to train adult learners and prepare workers for a changing and diversifying economy. Participants will have access to mentors, opportunities to enroll in certificate programs at the colleges, and access to employment.
  • Monroe County Intermediate School District will give tenth graders access to Career and Technical Education initiatives across the district.

Ongoing progress updates on these projects will be available on the region’s website.

The Regional Prosperity Initiative was established in 2014 by Gov. Rick Snyder and the Michigan state legislature to encourage local partners to create vibrant economies. The Greater Ann Arbor Region’s Prosperity Initiative is a consortium of public, private, and nonprofit organizations that seeks to expand economic prosperity and quality of life in Hillsdale, Jackson, Lenawee, Livingston, and Washtenaw counties. The Greater Ann Arbor Region’s Prosperity Initiative focuses on workforce training and advancing a high-quality, diverse regional transportation system.