DBusiness Daily Update: Autism Alliance of Michigan Launches Statewide Education Campaign, and More

Our roundup of the latest news from metro Detroit and Michigan businesses as well as announcements from government agencies, including updates about the COVID-19 pandemic. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.
Autism Alliance of Michigan is starting a $1.5 million, three-year education and engagement campaign to heighten statewide health and wellness opportunities for individuals in Michigan’s autism community. // Stock Photo
Autism Alliance of Michigan is starting a $1.5 million, three-year education and engagement campaign to heighten statewide health and wellness opportunities for individuals in Michigan’s autism community. // Stock Photo

Our roundup of the latest news from metro Detroit and Michigan businesses as well as announcements from government agencies, including updates about the COVID-19 pandemic. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.

Autism Alliance of Michigan Launches Statewide Education Campaign

The Southfield-based Autism Alliance of Michigan (AAoM) is embarking on a $1.5 million, three-year education and engagement campaign to heighten statewide health and wellness opportunities for individuals in Michigan’s autism community, as part of a new, 10-year strategic vision.

AAoM is Michigan’s primary statewide nonprofit agency advocating for and guiding families living with autism from the earliest age of diagnosis through the challenges faced by adults on the spectrum, understanding that independence, health, and well-being are foundational to a full, productive, and meaningful life.

The organization is focusing on three strategic areas: reducing the age of diagnosis; inclusive, equitable and high-quality education; and increasing employment and post-secondary educational opportunities.

Through its MiNavigator program, AAoM provides professional consultation and connection to services and supports and empowers caregivers to advocate for loved ones affected by autism.

Following two years of pandemic lockdowns, school and business closures, and disruptors in almost every aspect of life, the effects on individuals in Michigan’s autism community have been particularly challenging.

Following the release and accessibility of the COVID-19 vaccine, AAoM joined several statewide partners in advocating for COVID-19 vaccination in the autism community. Protecting people with autism through safe, effective, and free vaccines is the best way to for the community to return to the routines of daily life, critical to all of us, but even more so for people with autism.

“At the onset of the pandemic, we knew that we could not continue to advance our mission of supporting individuals in the autism community without putting their health, first and foremost,” says Colleen Allen, president and CEO of AAoM. “That meant we needed to join in statewide advocacy efforts with our alliance partners to bring vaccine education, resources, and equitable access to our community.

“Our Michigan Vaccination Partners (MVP) group includes Brain Injury Association of Michigan (BIAMI), Disability Rights Michigan (DRM), and Michigan Developmental Disabilities Institute (MI-DDI). Our recommendations are based on the most up-to-date, scientific information supported by sound clinical research.

“With autism, communication, social, and/or sensory challenges are typical,” Allen says. “What that means is there is less ability to understand and implement safety precautions in ways those without autism can. For some individuals, wearing a mask is impossible. Others may have difficulty communicating symptoms of illness.”

Allen noted that all those issues, and others, put people with autism at higher risk of illness, long-term complications, hospitalization, and death because they are exposed to viruses more often and cannot always employ safety measures. Safe, sensible preventive care is essential to ensuring that individuals with autism lead healthy lives, while maintaining the routines necessary for them to grow and thrive.

According to the Centers for Disease Control one in every 44 children is affected by autism spectrum disorders (ASD) with boys being four to five times more likely to be diagnosed with ASD than girls.  There are an estimated 50,000 individuals living with ASD in Michigan, approximately 16,500 of them are school-age children.

Vericast to Invest in Marketing Technology, Hire 250+ to Support Growth

San Antonio-based marketing firm Vericast, which has an office in Livonia, says it is investing in advanced technologies, while also hiring for more than 250 new positions across the organization this year.

“When we launched Vericast in early 2020, we did so with the intent to further develop new offerings and evolve our best-in-class technology, data, and services to address immediate client and market needs, changing consumer buying behavior and engagement preferences,” says John O’Malley, chairman and CEO of Vericast.

“This investment underscores our commitment to bringing new innovations to market, positioning Vericast for the next phase of our growth. With a combined portfolio of new offerings coupled with our existing set of proven solutions which have been driving success for organizations for many years, we will be able to serve clients in ways that no other partner can.”

Vericast’s technology investment includes several new and enhanced digital marketing innovations available this year aimed at helping clients improve performance, extend their reach, and retain their customers:

Machine Learning Omnichannel Platform: A next-generation machine-learning omnichannel marketing platform designed to help mid-market clients better manage their customer data and continuously improve multi-channel media programs. This industry-first digital platform will be available to clients later this year.

Partner API: A newly engineered set of application programming interface services built to give clients and partners more direct control and access to Vericast’s demand-side advertising platform. This proprietary service enables third-party entities to execute media campaigns, retrieve campaign performance, manage invoicing and more. Partner API will be available to clients in Q2.

Enhanced Consumer Graph: Vericast has further strengthened the performance of its award-winning Consumer Graph predictive intelligence technology to include contextual targeting, taking advantage of signals and learnings based on real-time context of a consumer’s path to purchase. With contextual targeting capabilities, Vericast clients can now reach consumers in the moment by appearing next to relevant, brand-safe content delivered through a proprietary categorization engine that processes over five million web pages daily. With this technology, clients can message consumers as they consume content such as sports scores, news articles, blog posts and more. Consumer Graph’s contextual targeting capability is available to clients now.

Universal Digital Coupons: Vericast is the first marketing solutions company to launch a Universal Coupon solution with store-level redemption insights, precise consumer targeting, and scalable reach. This unmatched combination of capabilities creates new, diverse promotional strategies and distribution opportunities for brands and retailers. Vericast’s Universal Coupon solution integrates proprietary consumer behavior data with targeting technology and leverages a digital format designed to offer consumers more freedom of choice to use coupons on their mobile devices at any participating retailer. It is also a more secure, traceable digital coupon format. Vericast will begin test campaigns in Q2 in alignment with retailer acceptance of Universal Coupons.

The more than 250 new positions the company seeks to fill this year include on-site and remote jobs throughout the U.S. in data science, engineering, marketing, finance, manufacturing, and sales, among other functions. The company has a workforce of more than 5,000 employees with thousands of clients across many industries.

Visit here for employment opportunities with Vercast.

Schoolcraft College Supply Chain Program Preparing Students for Competitive Jobs

Schoolcraft College in Livonia launched its Supply Chain Management (SCM) program in January 2021, during the height of the pandemic, and its first two students are about to complete the program.

The two students with the finish line in sight illustrate, the college says, how in one-year the program can be a good fit no matter a student’s level of expertise or familiarity with the subject.

John Garcia is on the front lines of supply chain management as a helicopter pilot who delivers materials — including microchips to automotive plants — both locally and nationally.

“When I was exploring degree options last winter, I was made aware of the SCM program, which was beginning when I would start school, and was immediately sold,” Garcia says. “I felt this was a good choice because it aligned with my career and am very interested in the transportation industry and movement of goods.”

The other student, Zachary Miles, graduated from high school in 2020. He got his start at Schoolcraft in high school as a dual enrollment student, then became a full-time student in the Spring 2020 term.

“After discovering the Supply Chain Management program in Winter 2021, my main priority is to finish with a Skills Certificate and transfer to Eastern Michigan to get a bachelor’s degree and possibly an MBA,” Miles says.

Students achieve their goals with the Supply Chain Management credentials being “stackable.” That means the skills certificate flows to the certificate, which flows to the associate in applied science degree. Courses also can transfer to a four-year school to pursue a bachelor’s degree.

For more information, visit here.

Multimedia Exhibitions Celebrate Local Legacies at Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit

The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) is presenting an exhibition series bridging local and global dimensions in a “celebration of the city’s rich cultural histories.”

This season includes “Freshwater,” an experimental video short directed by filmmaker and writer dream hampton; “Paradox of Harmonics,” the first U.S. solo museum exhibition of Toronto-based multidisciplinary artist NepSidhu; “s(h)elves?,” the first museum solo exhibition of Detroit-based artist Sterling Toles; and “Ground Up: Reflectionson Black Abstraction,” a group exhibition featuring works from Detroit arts patron James Dozier’s collection.

Opening to the public on April 15, these exhibitions collectively honor Black creative legacies in Detroit. An opening reception will take place on April 22, from 6-9 p.m.

With a generational thread weaving all four exhibitions together, MOCAD’s Spring 2022 programming is designed to highlight how Detroit’s artistic landscape is brought to life by interconnected nodes of expression pioneered by Black artists.

Though the works of the artists featured are located within deeply personal media, together the four exhibitions are “a testament to the necessarily symbiotic nature of creating,” says a MOCAD press release. “In illuminating the connections between artists from both within and outside of Detroit, MOCAD seeks to give credence to the many communities that shape the fabric of the city.”

For more information, visit mocadetroit.org/.