COVID-19 Update: Junior Achievement to Launch JA Inspire Program, Consumers Energy Picks Downtown Royal Oak for ‘Our Town’ Initiative, and More

Here is a roundup of the latest news concerning the COVID-19 pandemic in addition to announcements from local, state, and federal governments, as well as international channels. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.
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graph of number of Michigan coronavirus cases
Courtesy of Bridge

Here is a roundup of the latest news concerning the COVID-19 pandemic in addition to announcements from local, state, and federal governments, as well as international channels. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.

Junior Achievement to Launch JA Inspire Program
Junior Achievement of Southeastern Michigan has devised a program called JA Inspire to help student learning and career exploration during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new virtual opportunity for 8th– through 12th-grade students will take place March 15-June 13.

“Students will essentially have a one-stop shop where they can learn about different career pathways available throughout the region,” says Jason D. Lee, president and CEO of Junior Achievement of Southeastern Michigan. “It’s a virtual showcase that we hope will inspire and prepare young people for future success locally with Michigan companies. We want to keep our best and brightest students here.”

Participation in JA Inspire is open to companies and students in Wayne, Oakland, Livingston Monroe, Washtenaw, Genesee, Lapeer, and St. Clair counties, and north central Michigan. As many as 20,000 students are expected to participate. The online event is needed during COVID-19 since student internships, job shadowing, field trips, and other onsite workplace learning experiences have largely been suspended due to the pandemic.

“Our mission at Junior Achievement of Southeastern Michigan is to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy,” says Gina Coleman, board chair of JASEM and chief sales officer for MassMutual Great Lakes. “That’s exactly what JA Inspire is designed to do. We encourage as many students, schools, and businesses as possible to take advantage of this unique opportunity.”

Junior Achievement is seeking participation from at least 100 businesses showcasing careers, training resources, and post-secondary opportunities in Michigan and nationwide. Companies that already have reserved online booths include title sponsor, Delta Dental, AAA, Delta Air Lines, DTE Energy, EY, Henry Ford Health System, McDonalds of Michigan, and many others.

“This is an area of passion for us — around entrepreneurship, supporting the next generation workforce, and equity and diversity in the workplace,” says Scott Mullan, vice chair of JASEM, principal of consulting at EY. “JA Inspire is a way to show all of these students a wide range of opportunities that they’re not going to be exposed to on a day-to-day basis and help to influence their future career choices as well as our own recruiting.”

Sponsorship fees for participating businesses start at $500 and help support the operating costs of JA Inspire and JA’s work within the region. Interested companies, educators, and students can learn more and register here.

Consumers Energy Picks Downtown Royal Oak for ‘Our Town’ Initiative
Consumers Energy has selected the Royal Oak Downtown Development Authority to be part of its Our Town gift card initiative to support small businesses throughout Michigan.

As a result of its selection, Consumers Energy is giving $22,000 to the Royal Oak DDA’s Downtown Dollars gift card program to provide a dollar-for-dollar match. This program already has sold out.

Downtown Dollars still will available but instead of a 100 percent match it will be a 50 percent match. The 50 percent match is not part of the Consumers Energy partnership. They will be available starting Feb. 5.

“Downtown Dollars was launched last year as part of the DDA’s top priority to help support our small businesses during the pandemic, who are the backbone of our vibrant downtown community,” says Sean Kammer, downtown manager for Royal Oak. “This support will further fuel that mission.”

Downtown Dollars digital gift cards can be redeemed at more than 70 participating restaurants, retail stores, coffee shops, entertainment venues, salons, and more in Royal Oak’s Downtown Development District. View the full list of participating businesses here.

Consumers Energy is helping local businesses throughout Michigan by providing $500,000 to 55 local communities through its Our Town gift card effort. Downtown organizations and chambers of commerce across the lower peninsula will be able to use the funds to put toward a dollar-for-dollar match when gift cards are purchased through these local entities, doubling the amount consumers can spend when shopping locally at small businesses.

For more information, visit here.

State Partnering with Wayne State to Provide Mobile COVID-19 Testing and Other Services
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is partnering with Wayne State University in Detroit and Wayne Health to provide mobile COVID-19 testing. MDHHS also is seeking to expand this program to four other communities in the coming months.

This new program allows three mobile units to move between sites and serve communities at the highest risk. Locations are chosen in part to help address racial and ethnic disparities that had existed prior to the pandemic and were exacerbated by the virus – a focus of the Racial Disparities Task Force.

The partnership between MDHHS and WSU/WH began in September 2020 and is built on a pilot program conducted by WSU, WH, Ford Motor Co., and ACCESS. MDHHS, WSU, and WH have expanded this model and are offering flu vaccinations, cardiometabolic risk factor screenings, and social determinant assessments with linkages to social services and medical care in addition to COVID-19 testing. Future services could include COVID-19 vaccination.

Wayne Health’s Mobile Health Unit offers an array of health care screenings, including COVID testing, flu shots, blood pressure screening, HIV testing, and on-site referrals for public benefit programs such as Medicaid, unemployment assistance, emergency food and shelter services addressing social determinants. Services are available to persons driving or walking to the site and do not require appointments or prescriptions.

MDHHS is working to expand mobile testing in Flint, Lansing, Grand Rapids, and Muskegon.

“Partnering with the state will expand our efforts to bring these vital services to more Michigan residents who need them,” says Dr. Phillip Levy, who leads the Mobile COVID Testing Program for Wayne Health and is WSU’s assistant vice president for Translational Sciences and Clinical Research Innovation. “This work is a key element of who we are as a university and as a practice group. Meeting people and providing services where they live is critical not only to containing the COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential to improving health in general.”

Since September 2020, the Mobile Health Units have visited more than 91 community locations and tested more than 7,000 people for COVID-19.

Kapnick Insurance Group Celebrates 75th Anniversary
Kapnick Insurance Group in Ann Arbor is celebrating its 75th anniversary during 2021 with several private and public events throughout the year.

Anniversary events include:

  • A company-wide goal of 7,500 random acts of kindness completed by Kapnick team members.
  • A public 7.5-mile run and .75-mile family fun run to benefit various community charitable organizations.
  • A weekend trip to Mackinac Island for all current employees.
  • The unveiling of a new logo.

Founded in 1946, Kapnick is one of the largest privately held insurance brokers in the nation.

Oakland County Veterans May Be Eligible for $2,500 Via COVID-19 Relief Program
Oakland County veterans, service members, and eligible dependents impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and needing financial help can apply for up to $2,500 in assistance through the Veterans COVID-19 Emergency Financial Relief Program.

A total of $182,000 is available through the grant provided by the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency. There is a cap of $2,500 per person, including food assistance, which has a $150 limit. The grants can be used for eligible food, utility, property taxes, and personal care expenses. Applications can be made here.

Applicants must be an Oakland County resident and honorably discharged from the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, National Guard, reserves or women’s auxiliaries. Eligibility documentation is required.

Those without access to the internet should contact the Oakland County Veterans’ Services Division in Pontiac at 248-858-0785 for assistance.

AllStar Chauffeured Services offers COVID-19 tested chauffeurs
Passengers of Troy-based AllStar Chauffeured Services can now request to have their chauffeur COVID-19 rapid tested prior to their trip. Rapid testing is available in the metro Detroit area as well as select cities throughout the United States.

Testing is conducted using the CareStart rapid COVID-19 Antigen Test, which is authorized by the FDA under an Emergency Use Authorization and designed to detect SARS-CoV-2 with a nasal swab. Test results are interpreted within 10 minutes. A $60 fee applies per rapid test requested trip. Prior to pick-up, the passenger receives an alert with their AllStar chauffeur information and confirmed test results.

“This is just another step we are taking to give all our travelers options as we continue to support healthy travel for all our guests,” says Bob Beutel, president of AllStar Chauffeured Services, who has kept his business operating despite challenges of a world-wide pandemic. “We’re working hard to keep our chauffeurs and passengers healthy and confident in our services.”

As the health crisis emerged, Beutel instituted stringent safety-measures throughout his company. AllStar office staff and chauffeurs begin the day with a mandatory temperature check and passengers are greeted and driven to their destination by a masked chauffeur. In the event a guest needs a mask, surgical masks are available upon advanced request. UV light sanitization is used daily at the beginning and end of shifts to disinfect shared items used by the chauffeurs such as keys and iPads, and complimentary hand sanitizer bottles are a staple in all vehicles.

Shared reading material has been removed and all touch surfaces are disinfected between trips. Vehicle air filtration systems are sanitized with a fogger disinfectant and AllStar has increased the amount of vehicle Ozone Machine cleanings.

American Heart Association Wants to See Red Friday
The American Heart Association is calling on women (and men) to spread awareness of cardiovascular disease in women on National Wear Red Day, Feb. 5, 2021.

Cardiovascular disease remains the leading killer of women in the U.S., according to the American Heart Association’s newly released 2021 Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics.

Heart disease kills one woman approximately every 80 seconds, taking more lives than all forms of cancer combined. At the same time, recent market research has indicated that the youngest, most diverse groups of women are the least aware that cardiovascular disease is their greatest health threat, according to the association.

“We’re now seeing cardiovascular disease affecting younger women, and women from Black and Hispanic communities are disproportionally impacted by heart disease and stroke,” says Dr. Mitch Elkind, president of the American Heart Association and professor of neurology and epidemiology at Columbia University in New York City. “Now, more than ever, we need to ensure all women have access to education about heart attack and stroke warning signs, as well as proper diagnoses and treatment when they present with symptoms — regardless of their age or background. Losing even one woman to heart disease or stroke is a tragedy.”

The American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women movement encourages people to take action through the month of February by:

  • Wearing red on National Wear Red Day, Feb. 5. The iconic Red Dress pin and other apparel are available here.
  • Making a donation here. Big Lots Foundation will match online donations on National Wear Red Day, up to $333,333.
  • Visiting CVS Health and making a donation at the register until March 6. Donations also can be made online.
  • Signing up to participate in the Research Goes Red initiative, a joint collaboration between the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women movement and Verily’s Project Baseline.

For more information, visit here.

Boys & Girls Club Entrepreneurs Unveil ‘Reimagine Black Wallstreet’ Wearables
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan has announced the availability of its first Industry Club Social Justice Collection of wearables designed by BGCSM youth fashion entrepreneurs.

The formal release of the t-shirts and hoodies took place during the live streamed “Reimagining Black Wall Street” event on Feb. 1 in celebration of Black History Month.

In light of racial tension in the country, BGCSM youth were encouraged to process and express their thoughts around social justice reform through art and fashion. Each t-shirt and hoodie includes a custom design and story behind it.

All Industry Club youth designs were licensed by BGCSM to ensure they are compensated for their work. BGCSM taught Industry Club youth the importance of owning and monetizing their work which creatives often struggle to do.

“BGCSM is committed to ensuring youth are career, start up and homeowner ready when they leave our clubs,” says Shawn H. Wilson, president and CEO of BGCSM. “Not only will the selected designs be sold online and in-stores, but the youth designers were paid as part of the program and received a paid licensing deal from BGCSM, which furthers our mission around providing economic mobility opportunities for youth and families.”

BGCSM Industry Club worked with Roslyn Karamoko, owner of Détroit is the New Black, and Kelsey and Cassidy Tucker, owners of Deviate, to design their collection; and with Tommey Walker, founder of Detroit Vs. Everybody, to physically bring the youth’s collection to life.

The Reimagine Black Wall Street Collection are available in-store at Détroit is the New Black at 1430 Woodward Ave. in Detroit and online.

The Henry Ford Announces New Experiences and Exhibits for 2021
The Henry Ford in Dearborn has announced new limited-engagement exhibits, a new permanent exhibition, and new experiences for 2021.

The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation’s GM Gallery will host the limited-engagement exhibitions “Louis Comfort Tiffany: Treasures from the Driehaus Collection,” March 6-April 25; and “The Jim Henson Exhibition: Imagination Unlimited,” June 5-Sept. 6.

Coming early spring 2021 is the opening of The Henry Ford’s newest permanent exhibition in Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, “Driven to Win: Racing in America,” presented by General Motors. This interactive permanent exhibit immerses visitors in the excitement and history of auto racing in America. Spread across 24,000 square feet, Driven to Win features 28 vehicles, roughly 225 artifacts, and multiple interactive experiences including six driver simulators that put visitors behind the wheel on world-famous tracks throughout the world.

Greenfield Village once again will open for the 2021 season on April 16 for members and April 17 to the public. The venue will be open Thursday through Sundays 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. until June.

Due to time constraints and the safety of all those who help in creating large-scale events, The Henry Ford has canceled some of its signature programming for the 2021 season including “A Day Out with Thomas,” “Civil War Remembrance,” and “Maker Faire Detroit.”

For those looking to access The Henry Ford from home, the institution’s social channels, blog, and website will continue to provide content throughout the year, including “THF Conversations.” Conducted via Zoom, the virtual speaker series features leaders in their field as they discuss the topic and challenges facing us today.

For a limited time, new and renewing members can receive 15 months of membership benefits for the price of 12 months using the code MEM15FOR12 until March 5. For updates on hours, tickets, and safety guidelines, visit here.

Detroit Historical Museum Makes ‘Detroit 67’ Exhibit Permanent
The Detroit Historical Society has announced that its “Detroit 67: Perspectives” exhibit, which opened in 2017 to recognize the 50th anniversary of Detroit’s civil unrest, will become a permanent exhibition at the Detroit Historical Museum.

Previously been scheduled to close at the end of 2020, the exhibit is based on an oral history collection of more than 500 firsthand stories. It has received multiple awards, including the 2018 National Medal from the Institute for Museum and Library Services.

The Detroit Historical Society launched its “Detroit 67: Looking Back to Move Forward” community engagement project in 2015 to ensure that public input and a broad spectrum of perspectives would be represented in its eventual museum exhibition and public programming.

The project was led by the late Detroit entrepreneur and community advocate Marlowe Stoudamire, who served as its project director and passed away in March 2020 due to complications of COVID-19. More than 150 community partners, from grassroots groups to the city’s largest nonprofit organizations, joined in the effort. The new permanent exhibit will be dedicated in Stoudamire’s honor.

“The history shared by this exhibition has become increasingly important in the four years since it debuted,” says Elana Rugh, president and CEO of the Detroit Historical Society. “Marlowe’s influence runs strong throughout the project, and his recorded voice is present in many of the audio features in the exhibition.”

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