Leaders from business, government, philanthropy in southeast Michigan unite to launch Detroit Regional Workforce Partnership, with initial $3M investment, systems change expert at the helm
A coalition of leaders spanning business, government and philanthropy throughout Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties has united to launch the Detroit Regional Workforce Partnership, an initiative designed to create an equitable, future-facing talent pipeline that will support a thriving economy in southeast Michigan. The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation has provided initial funding, with a total of $3 million committed over three years.
The new regional initiative, which will be managed by the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, builds on the success of the City of Detroit’s Workforce Development system, which helped secure 40,000 jobs for Detroiters in just over four years. By establishing a regional, employer-led collaborative and sustained engagement of the industries necessary to coordinate demand, the Detroit Regional Workforce Partnership will fill a clear gap in southeast Michigan’s workforce development ecosystem.
The Detroit Regional CEO Group spearheaded the process to develop the initiative. Facilitated by the Corporation for a Skilled Workforce (CSW), input was gathered from business leaders in the automotive, health, energy and real estate sectors; as well as representatives from government in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties; philanthropy; education; and economic development.
“We are excited to partner with local businesses, governments and philanthropy to help create a more direct pathway to impactful and meaningful employment,” said David Meador, Executive Director of the Detroit Regional CEO Group. “We have heard from multiple sectors across the region that the number of job openings is far outpacing talent capacity. Our goal is to collaborate seamlessly to ensure a robust and dynamic talent pool has access to these opportunities.”
Executive director is seasoned leader
Jayme Powell, previously Senior Director of Education and Employment at the Rocket Community Fund, will lead the initiative. She has joined the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan as Executive Director, Detroit Regional Workforce Partnership, reporting to Nicole Sherard-Freeman, Chief Operating Officer.
“Jayme is a seasoned leader with a record of successfully making systems change and improving economic and social outcomes for under-resourced communities and businesses with significant talent needs,” Sherard-Freeman said. “This role will play a crucial part in leading and establishing a regional, business-led workforce intermediary in southeast Michigan.”
Prior to joining the Community Foundation, during her career with the Rocket Community Fund, Powell co-designed and championed Connect313, a citywide, data-driven and community-led digital inclusion strategy to ensure all residents have access to digital resources for improved learning, employment and wellbeing. She also led the development and launch of the Motor City Contractor Fund, a business growth initiative that provides technical assistance along with flexible and affordable lending to Detroit-based contractors, and piloted the Detroit Area Talent Fund, a regional microgrant fund to support students experiencing financial crisis so they can persist through obtaining their degree or certification.
Powell holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Michigan State University (MSU) and a master’s degree in Social Work, Organizational and Community Leadership, also from MSU.
Health care will be first focus area
Health care will be the first sector to work with the new partnership to address a critical talent gap. Currently, there are more than 4,000 job openings in health care throughout our region.
“We are enthusiastically harnessing the power and proven success of the Detroit Regional CEO Group and this new initiative to help address the sector’s talent needs,” said Bob Riney, President and CEO, Henry Ford Health. “The opportunity to break down systemic barriers to employment, as well as work collaboratively regionwide to provide people with great-paying jobs, lifts everyone.”
“We are proud to be part of this initiative and showcase the career opportunities available in health care,” said Tina Freese Decker, President & CEO, Corewell Health. “This partnership is more than just about jobs – it’s about creating strong career opportunities for our community members. By strengthening our local workforce, we can provide quality care to even more people. It’s a great step toward a healthier community and brighter futures for individuals in Southeast Michigan.”
The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation has provided lead grant funding for the initiative, with $1.5 million at launch, and a total of $3 million committed over three years.
“Economic development and workforce are core pillars of the Ralph Wilson Foundation,” said David Egner, President and CEO, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. “The most successful regions in the country for connecting and developing talent to employment have adopted practices of using employer-driven, data rich models. Based on a record of success the CEO Group has demonstrated, we believe this new partnership will have a significant impact on the region’s job seekers and businesses, while also bringing additional opportunities to the region. The potential can be truly game changing.”
About the Detroit Regional CEO Group The Detroit Regional CEO Group is a collaboration between senior business, government and philanthropic leaders who have come together to solve some of the region’s most challenging, common business climate and ecosystem issues. Focus areas include economic development, workforce development, education, regional transit and public spaces and greenways.
About the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan is a full-service philanthropic organization leading the way to positive change in our region. As a permanent community endowment built by gifts from thousands of individuals and organizations, the Foundation supports a wide variety of activities benefiting education, arts and culture, health, human services, community development, and civic affairs. Since its inception, the Foundation has distributed more than $1.4 billion through more than 85,000 grants to nonprofit organizations throughout Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Monroe, Washtenaw, St. Clair, and Livingston counties.
About the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation is a grantmaking organization dedicated primarily to sustained investment in the quality of life of the people of Southeast Michigan and Western New York. The two areas reflect the devotion of Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. to his hometown of Detroit and greater Buffalo, home of his beloved Buffalo Bills NFL team. Prior to his passing in 2014, Mr. Wilson provided that a significant share of his estate be used to continue a life-long generosity of spirit by funding the Foundation that bears his name. Based in Detroit, the Foundation began with a grantmaking capacity of $1.2 billion over a 20-year period, which expires January 8, 2035. This structure is consistent with Mr. Wilson’s desire for the Foundation’s impact to be immediate, substantial, measurable, and overseen by those who knew him best. For more information visit rcwjrf.org.