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Frank A. Douglass Insurance Agency

Part I: Portage Health Foundation and CCISD Working in Tandem to Retain a Young Copper Country Workforce

During the Keweenaw Alliance Breakfast this morning PHF’s Executive Director, Kevin Store, announced the 11 recipients of their scholarship with the Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance. As well as talked broadly about challenges facing students accessing resources for higher education or technical training. And how those challenges affect the health of the local community.

Before I do, some people might say, ‘Why is the Foundation taking such an interest in education?’ You know, we realize that, when we look at the health risk data from the four counties, and certainly throughout the Upper Peninsula. You can see a correlation of the advanced levels of education, and some correlation with advances in household income, to a reduction in health risks factors. – Kevin Store, Executive Director, Portage Health Foundation

Over the years the Portage Health Foundation has distributed over 200,000 dollars in scholarships to local students to pursue further education. Recognizing that not everyone chooses to attend college or university, the foundation started a non-traditional education scholarship for students pursuing technical training for careers like welding. Because of that recognition, PHF partnered with Michigan Tech, two years ago, to pull together research to better understand challenges young people face.

A lack in proper nutrition can play a major role in many aspects of life. Causing problems from planning for future career opportunities, to an inability to focus on present tasks. If the organization can properly pair existing food insecurity programs, with expanded opportunities for students to explore career options, and increase confidence in financial literacy. Store and the foundation believe that the community will see long term impacts on the vitality of the region.

The challenges in financial literacy, career options, and leadership opportunities can all be impacted by the state of an individual and community’s physical and mental health. Many students at all levels of middle school, high school, and college, deal with feelings of anxiety, and depression. But students may also suffer from health impacts related to food insecurity. With an increase in health risks for a community comes less focus on career opportunities. By starting students early on thinking about career paths, continuing food insecurity programs, and a emphasis on building careers at home, PHF hopes to retain a young workforce for the region.

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