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Partnership produces jobs for Detroit Youth

DESC, Midnight Golf Program, Doubletree Hotel offer permanent employment

By Paul Harris

Midnight Golf Program participants
Midnight Golf Program participants who were hired full-time pose for a picture in the grand lobby of the Doubletree.

Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation (DESC), the Midnight Golf Program and the Doubletree Hotel are combining to provide work experience, possible career training and even permanent jobs for Detroit Youth.

DESC and the Doubletree Hotel, whose parent company is Hilton, aligned themselves with the Midnight Golf Program to form a dynamic partnership that resulted in the downtown Doubletree Hotel offering jobs to 20 students this past summer.

The Midnight Golf Program is a Year-Round Youth empowerment program for kids 14-21, that not only teaches them to play golf, but also focuses on eight core values: Accountability, caring, empowerment, exposure, integrity, quality, relevance, and respect.

Through funding from DESC, 20 youngsters from the Midnight Golf Program were employed in dining, housekeeping, maintenance, engineering, and reception. Hospitality training was offered to 10 older youth based on their interest in the field. Nine of the 10 students completed and received certification and six were offered full-time employment.

Shannon Dunavent and Devin Scott
Shannon Dunavent and Devin Scott pose for a picture at the Downtown Doubletree Hotel.

Downtown Doubletree General Manager Shannon Dunavent is so pleased with the program, she would like to see it extended from the summer to a year-round initiative. “We believe in the process and we look forward to having the students,” she said.

The partnership between the three organizations provided the youth with mentoring, employability skills and social skills, while teaching them life skills and how to appropriately present themselves in a work environment. The students worked from 9 a.m., to 9 p.m., during the program.

The Guidance Center – whose mission is to enhance the development and well-being of children, adults, and families in need throughout the communities it serves – also contributed to the program. DESC provided breakfast, lunch and support services, the Doubletree provided dinner and on the job work experience and The Guidance Center provided skill training.

Through the partnership, the Doubletree hopes to target at-risk youth, to help keep them off of the streets. The Doubletree prides itself on taking a chance to hire individuals that are typically overlooked when seeking employment. “The commitment from Doubletree’s leadership to work with at-risk youth has positioned the company as a flagship,” said DESC Director of Program and Service Innovation Stephanie Nixon. “This allows for others to follow in providing real opportunities for long-term career success.”

The Doubletree management team also believes in promoting people from within. And since the hospitality industry is not a widely sought-after industry, they use this partnership as a way to develop a talent pool for future career opportunities. As a condition of employment, students are required to continue their education. “Education is the gateway to the experiences in our lives financially, culturally and it provides balance,” said Devin Scott, Doubletree Director of Human Resources.

The partnership between DESC, the downtown Doubletree and the Midnight Golf Program began six years ago when the Doubletree first opened its doors. Hilton and Doubletree have been longtime supporters of the community. The company as a whole has a community initiative that is entering its 10th year, “Teaching Kids to Care”, where they make a significant impact by teaching students the importance of giving back to the community.