Saginaw nonprofit aims to keep youth out of trouble with education

The Youth Development Corporation provides education, training and employment.
Published: Mar. 15, 2021 at 6:29 PM EDT
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SAGINAW, Mich. (WJRT) - (3/15/2021) - An effort to reach young people before they lose their way is now open to people in the City of Saginaw.

The Youth Development Corporation held its grand opening Monday. The nonprofits is working to help people in the community achieve their GEDs, college credits and skilled trades certifications.

The YDC currently has 35 students, all young people who live in Saginaw. It’s affording a lifeline through education to a career in their own community. What they’ve learned so far actually helped them build the infrastructure inside their building.

“My heart was broke to see that folks who look like me didn’t have an opportunity to learn a skilled trade in their communities.” said founder, Eric Eggleston. “So it was important that we kept it not only urban, but we kept it in the city, and not in the township, to give them access.”

Eggleston has been working towards Monday’s ribbon cutting since 2015.

Six years later and with the financial backing from the Department of Labor, among other donations, the nonprofit officially opened its doors.

As long as you’re 16-24 years old and live in the City, Eggleston said YDC can help you get a high school diploma, GED or college credits through their partnerships with Delta College and Saginaw Valley State University.

“We also offer all of the wraparound services that our students need,” he explained. “They get the counseling -- individual, group counseling, daycare. We feed them, we get ‘em their driver’s license, we get ‘em signed up registered to vote. We’re also getting ‘em registered for selective services.”

The students are paid $10/hour to be there, too.

Eggleston shared many of them are high school dropouts, court-ordered or just want a second chance.

Inside the facility on Weaddock Ave in Saginaw, you can see the hands-on access they’re receiving for skilled jobs training and certification -- plumbing, solar panel installation, roofing, welding, the list goes on.

Eggleston said the most important thing they do is connect the students to jobs.

With a felony conviction on his record, he knows firsthand how critical these resources are for many in his community.

“This is an opportunity where they can have that felony conviction, but know that there is hope being able to provide for themselves, their family, as well as rebuild a community,” Eggleston said.

Several area community leaders were on hand for the ribbon cutting ceremony, including Saginaw County’s Sheriff.

Sheriff William Federspiel and Eggleston announced their partnership to mirror this program inside the county jail.

“We’ve talked about this. I’ve heard it for 34 years how we want to reduce recidivism, we want to get people out here on the streets. We want to get them the help they so desperately need. But it was all talk. Good talk for a lot of people, but talk nonetheless. This is action,” the Sheriff said.

Within the next 90 days the pilot program should be up and running. Eggleston shared the inmates will receive access to the same services. If they’re released before they complete the program, they can come to the YDC facillity to finish their work.

He’s also working on creating housing for them, too.

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