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Success Spotlight: Denzel Phipps

Community involvement unlocks job possibility for youth with cerebral palsy

In December 2014, Denzel Phipps began the employment process for his first job alongside his father, Mr. Charles Phipps. Mr. Phipps researched programs that would provide Denzel, a graduate from Henry Ford High School in Detroit with cerebral palsy, with positive interactions and program activities and found the Midnight Golf Program (MGP).
Midnight Golf

Mr. Phipps met with Mr. Tiawan Waters, Youth Case Manager at Midnight Golf Program, and was hopeful that they could guide Denzel to workplace opportunities. Mr. Waters scheduled Denzel for orientation on Dec. 10, 2014 and provided Mr. Phipps with a program outline, eligibility criteria, and examples of ways to increase Denzel’s math and reading skills to make him a better job candidate.

After orientation, Denzel was scheduled for a two-part GAIN pretest that would assess his English and Math skill levels. He tested around a 5th grade level for English, and a 2nd grade level for Math. MGP would help get Denzel to the right skill level for employment.

Denzel enrolled in MGP on Dec. 30, 2014 and participated on a regular basis. The MGP is a 30 week empowerment and mentoring experience that teaches life skills including financial literacy, college preparation, community activism, as well as, learning to play golf. Here, Denzel was able to gain the skills employers are looking for.

While attending the MGP, Denzel began interacting more openly with peers and staff. He even trained in the computer lab during his session times to help increase his reading and math levels. Ms. Sharon and Ms. Shelly, instructors at MGP, worked with Denzel to ensure he understands the material and provide support. Denzel’s had work paid off, and increased to a 6th grade level on the GAIN posttest in English.

Denzel Phipps 3-cropIn March 2015, he received certificates for Leadership and Development, Job Readiness Training, and both included soft skills needed for employment. Denzel had no previous work history, so a resume was developed with the help from Willie Smith, MGP Job Developer, and based on program participation and an anticipated position at Banner Supermarket.

Denzel, Mr. Phipps, and Mr. Waters met with management at Banner Market on May 6, 2015. The managers provided and overview of tasks and assigned Denzel to an employee trainer that very day. The Banner management team explained that this was a test to see if Denzel would be able to do daily job tasks. One week later, Denzel was offered a position at Banner Supermarket.

With the help of his supportive father, staff at Midnight Golf Program, and management at Banner Supermarket, Denzel was able overcome deficiencies in his reading and math skills and get his very first job!