New Engagement Center is a ‘landing point’ for unemployed and unregistered youth to find support

FLINT, MI — A new program located at the Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village will provide young people with access to job opportunities, educational opportunities and wraparound services held its grand opening Wednesday morning.

The Engagement Center works to identify what they call Youth of Opportunity, 16-24 year olds who are not enrolled in school and are unemployed, and provide them with different opportunities for education, employment and wraparound services.

According to program director Tiffany Rouser, there are approximately 15,000 opportunity youth in Genesee County and more than 4,000 in the Flint area alone.

“We have this problem and it’s like, ‘OK, we have different organizations coming up with solutions,’ but not everyone can do it all,” Rouser said.

Rouser described the engagement center as a landing place for young people who need it but are unaware of the services available.

The Engagement Center currently has a group of 20 community partners in different areas such as education, behavioral health, workforce development, and community leaders to refer clients to. That number will only grow, Rouser said.

The Engagement Center provides free services to residents in need through grants.

It’s been operating without a home since June, but now with a location inside SBEV, there’s a place where they can bring partners together.

“Being able to bring our partners here to meet with customers, as I said earlier, makes a huge difference,” Rouser said.

Denise Diller, executive director of Crossover Outreach, said young people of opportunity are often forgotten in society. This is why they need attention and services.

“The 16 to 24 age group is a bit lost in the shuffle, isn’t it? You know, you’re coming of age and you’re just starting to try to find your way,” Diller said. “… It’s nice to have a place where children of this age are brought and they can share the available resources.”

Linnell Jones-McKenney, program director at SBEV, said this is another program that will contribute to the organization’s mission to inspire young people.

“We can give our young people the opportunity to dream. Everyone knows we call the Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village the “Building of Dreams,” McKenney said.

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