The 1980s. Focus on education and jobs as antidotes to racism, poverty

MTI signAs Focus: HOPE gained traction, its leaders sought additional intelligent and practical solutions to racism and poverty. The food program was now providing much needed assistance to young families, but the co-founders dreamt of eliminating the need for such programs. Only when people have jobs can they provide for their families – and access to jobs requires education.

Thus, they started a job training program. In 1981, the Machinist Training Institute (MTI) opened, using curriculum developed in concert with local machine shop owners. The first MTI graduates, primarily African American men and women, were snapped up by local machine shops and automotive companies, breaking the race and gender barriers in the machinist trades.

As an extension of the training programs, Focus: HOPE launched a manufacturing operation in 1982, becoming a Tier I automotive supplier and, in later years, achieving ISO quality certifications.

To assist students, many of whom were parents of young children, the organization opened the Center for Children (CFC) in 1987. Since then, the CFC has provided early childhood education and care to more than 6,000 infants and children.

With an increasing number of senior citizens depending upon the food program a new problem arose: How to get food to homebound seniors. Thousands of volunteers stepped up to the challenge to pack and deliver boxes of food each month.

After 20 years, Focus: HOPE had become proficient in identifying problems and devising solutions to the many challenges facing residents of southeast Michigan.