Josh and TIffany Sabo with their daughters Scarlette and Amelia.
When Josh Sabo thinks about the future, he wants one thing--happiness--not just for himself and for his family, but for everyone.
He knows that can happen if people strive to reach their personal potential. But obtaining that goal is different for everyone. Some head to college, some to the military, some into trades or straight into the workforce.
The encouraged path after high school is to go to college and pursue a degree that leads to a career. The problem with that,
Sabo says is only about 25 percent of people leave college with a degree and land a job in their chosen profession, and they often leave with $50,000 or more in debt from student loans.
So, Sabo has been inspired to launch a non-profit program that helps young adults figure out what they want to do with their life, without piling up a mountain of debt.
Sabo says he and his wife, Tiffany, know all too well about that mountain. In fact, together they had more than four times the average student loan debt. And neither of them have jobs related to the degrees they earned. They haven't let the debt stop them, and now they want to help young people figure out how to have a great life, without the pressure of debt.
"We have a lot of young professional people who can have it all," Sabo says. "They just need some guidance to the right path."
Cue: The Industry--a non-profit organization that helps young people explore career options and alternatives before going to college.
The Industry is like a bridge semester before heading to college. It gives students a small break to stop and think about the future and weigh their options--with purpose.
The idea has been about a decade in the making, according to the 32-year-old Fort Gratiot resident.
"It will let people launch out and be who they are," Sabo says.
Those who head to The Industry will spend a semester's time learning about themselves, their passions and what's next in their lives.
Step one involves taking a personal assessment to find out who they are.
Step two introduces them to what exists career-wise based on that assessment.
Step three is an internship placement to try out a job and see if it is the right fit, as well as a lot of networking opportunities to meet people.
At the end of their time, the students should have a life plan, job placement and the tools to succeed--no matter which path they follow.
While The Industry is still being built, Sabo is spreading the word out about his alternative.He's been visiting the local high schools to talk about the program and garner support. All the feedback he's received indicates a non-profit like the The Industry is sorely needed.
Right now, the curriculum is being built and Sabo says he's still waiting on official approval from the government, but the hope is to have The Industry ready to go in time for fall semester. The search is still on for a location, and a place for student housing. Sabo says he's also looking for a female coach to work with girls who are interested in what The Industry has to offer.
Students will have to apply for entrance to the program, which will cost about $1,500. Initially, about 12 students per year will be admitted. Once the program is officially running, Sabo says there are no limits. Ultimately, he wants to spread The Industry to several locations across the state.
"I'm astonished and pleased at how fast things are working," Sabo says, eager to see his vision become a reality.
Why Port Huron?
Sabo says Port Huron was the perfect place to launch his program because it has a diverse community and an eclectic group of people.
He also hopes The Industry can help solve some of the humanitarian issues the community is facing, like drug problems.
As part of the program, students will work with other non-profit agencies in the community. Hopefully, Sabo says, investing in the community will pique a student's interest in staying in the Blue Water region.
Port Huron has insane potential, Sabo says, and there is no reason young people shouldn't want to stay and invest in their own community.
He would love to see more young entrepreneurs setting up shop downtown and sharing their growing talents with the community.
Want to help?
In order to see his dream come to fruition, Sabo says, investment from the community will probably be needed. Currently, he has a gofundme.com
campaign open to help raise funds for the project and to help cover living expenses while he forges forward with the program.
To learn more about the program, visit the Facebook page
or The Industry's website