<span class='image-credits'>Ashley Hoffman</span>

New program to create bright future for Bay County by connecting students with local businesses



Aiden (last name withheld to protect privacy), a student at Pinckney High School, was looking for a way to learn about potential career avenues in his field of study. He found it in the MI Bright Future program, an initiative to help facilitate the retention of talented young people in the Bay Region and other areas of Michigan.

Through the program, he's gotten a glimpse into the options he'll be facing once he graduates.

“For me what’s exciting about interacting with businesses is that it’s sort of a look into what’s actually going on in the world,” Aiden says. “A lot of what you learn in high school is just the very basics of a lot of theories of things, but in something that is this specialized and goes this in-depth, it’s nice to have the opportunity to know what’s going on out there, because you see that it’s not all just theory, this is stuff people do every day, and this is stuff you could very well be hired to do."

My Bright Future uses e-mentoring, message boards, and company profiles to connect what’s happening in today’s classroom with current and projected needs among local employers.
Initially started to serve southeast Michigan, MI Bright Future was created through partnerships with organizations like Michigan Works!, the Workforce Intelligence Network, and Career Cruising. Primarily funded by sponsors, the program received additional funding from the Marshall Plan for Talent and is using that funding to bring the program to three new areas: the Capital Area, West Michigan and the Great Lakes Bay Region.

My Bright Futures uses e-mentoring, message boards, and company profiles to connect what’s happening in today’s classroom with current and projected needs among local employers.

Driving student success with real-world learning

Using web-based software, students in the MI Bright Future program are able to explore various industries by connecting with local companies offering work-based learning opportunities like job shadowing, internships and company tours.

Employers and community mentors can also interact with students through secure online discussion boards. MI Bright Future can highlight in-demand careers to students and identify necessary skills and or training they need to acquire or complete, and companies can nourish their talent pipeline by providing content, mentoring, or sharing valuable knowledge with local students.

Megan McCoy is the Business Partnership Coordinator for MI Bright Future, and she is at the forefront of MIBF’s effort to bridge the gap between education and employment.

Megan McCoy is MI Bright Future's Business Partnership Coordinator for the Great Lakes Bay Region

“One student posted on the Electrical Engineer discussion board and asked if it is important to learn Ohm’s Law,” McCoy says. “That student received answers from three different coaches, all of whom were able to confirm that not only is it really important, but it’s actually used all of the time in electrical engineering. Now, thanks to that interaction, the next time that student is in class wondering why they should care about the assignments they’ve been given, they’ll know it’s because it truly is important for their future and will be a major part of their career.”

Madison (last name withheld to protect privacy), a student in Livingston, says that her experience with MI Bright Futures gave her assurance that the career path she chose was the right one for her.

She says, “It’s really solidified my plans. Without the internship, I’m not sure if I would have had a clear demonstration of what I wanted to do, but actually being in the job has allowed me to know for sure that this is the career path for me.”

Supporting local businesses by connecting with future employees

Along with fostering student success, MI Bright Future is focused on promoting, expanding, and supporting Michigan businesses. It provides free online exposure for companies and industries based in Michigan, as well as streamlined, efficient engagement between business, educators, and students. Businesses can choose what they want to be involved in, and how much. Finally, potential employers are able to test-drive talent and identify future employees and begin developing the future workforce so skilled and educated workers are available when and where they are needed.
MI Bright Future gives local businesses an early chance to connect with talented students from their area

MI Bright Future gives local businesses an early chance to connect with talented students from their area
McCoy says that her role as Business Partnership Coordinator is to work with businesses to help enroll them in MI Bright Future. She stresses that MIBF is completely free for businesses to join. Local, interested businesses can get involved in two ways: the first is by being a virtual Career Coach. Career Coaches generally will be answering questions from students across the state in an online discussion board format; Coaches will typically commit around 15 minutes a week to answering questions. The second is to have a Company Profile. The Company Profile allows students to have eyes on companies in their own backyard and learn about who they hire, raising awareness of local job opportunities.

Saginaw ISD is in the process of rolling out MI Bright Future in their schools. Midland ISD plans to start rollout in January of 2019, and Bay/Arenac ISD wants to roll out in Fall of 2019. They need businesses and Career Coaches to be in the system ready for these students in 2019.

Businesses that are interested in signing up can sign up directly on MIBrightFuture.org
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