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From Peace Corps to Youth Solutions: Lauren's Journey of Making a Difference

National Peace Corps Week was celebrated from February 26 to March 4, and our coworker, Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates (JMG) Workforce Pathways Manager, Lauren Tizedes, served in the Peace Corps for nearly three years. The week, which is celebrated annually in the first week of March, commemorates President John F. Kennedy's establishment of the agency and celebrates all the good things that they do to make a difference at home and abroad. Since its creation in March 1961, 240,000 Americans have served in 140 different countries worldwide.

Lauren served as an Agribusiness Volunteer with the United States Peace Corps in Uganda, where she focused on youth unemployment and teaching entrepreneurial skills throughout the country. She served as the National Director of StartUp Uganda, which hosts workshops and youth camps throughout the country, connecting youth to opportunities and facilitating universal employability skills. Lauren's experiences in Uganda influenced her approach to youth services upon her return to Michigan.

"There are barriers to youth employment that are universal - lack of funding, restricted access to training, landing that first job, and learning what having a job is all about. The solution to many of these challenges is listening to the youth perspective and meeting them where they are with topics that pique their interest," Lauren expressed.

JMG WorkForce Pathways is a program designed to help youth aged 14-21 in Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren counties explore and prepare for careers through hands-on experience and skill development. The program works with youth to discover their interests and transform them into work experience opportunities with employers in their communities.

Lauren's experience in Uganda taught her the importance of bridging the gap between youth and older generations by working closely with community leaders and business owners. "It is essential to build trust between business owners and youth and to help show how providing on-the-job training and apprenticeships are crucial to the future of the workforce. At Youth Solutions, this means working with the Michigan Works! Business Teams who work directly with potential employers to understand what youth are looking for from their future place of work. It can be flexible schedules that allow for students to go to school while working, or delayed start times to account for childcare needs," she said.

We are thrilled to have Lauren as part of our team at Youth Solutions and value the unique skills and experiences she brings with her from her time serving in the Peace Corps. Through her work at JMG Workforce Pathways, she has continued to inspire and connect youth by providing them with opportunities to explore their interests and prepare for their future careers. By listening to and understanding the perspectives of young people, Lauren has helped to create opportunities for them to gain work experiences and develop valuable skills. As we celebrate National Peace Corps Week, we are reminded of the incredible impact that individuals like Lauren can have on the world, and we are grateful for her commitment to helping youth achieve a future beyond imagination for youth in Michigan.

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