Partnering with the Workforce System to Launch E&T Third-Party Partnerships

Michigan’s SNAP to Skills work is rooted in a long-term vision to expand job-driven services to all SNAP participants through partnerships with third-party providers. The State’s SNAP E&T program (called Food Assistance Employment & Training, or FAE&T), is administered jointly by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the Workforce Development Agency (WDA).  DHHS directs funds to WDA, which then contracts with its 24 local Michigan Works! Agencies (MWAs).  The MWAs, in turn, provide FAE&T services or contract with local community-based organizations to provide these services.  FAE&T services have been supported exclusively by 100 percent funds, outside of a limited 50-50 funded pilot in Detroit.

Over the last year, the State has made significant progress in laying the groundwork for expanding its FAE&T program and developing new third-party partnerships supported by SNAP E&T 50-50 funds. The State is focusing on two targeted areas of the State – Western Michigan and Detroit. To garner support and reach out to potential partners, Michigan held a convening in each area and released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for potential providers. The State’s first two third-party partners, Focus: Hope and Southwest Solutions, will begin providing services in December 2016.  Focus: Hope is a nearly 50-year-old organization widely recognized for its work bridging the racial and economic divide in southeast Michigan. The agency offers multiple employment and training programs, including an IT and Advanced Manufacturing program, as well as college bridge and degree programs focused within the STEM fields.  Southwest Solutions has operated for nearly 45 years, providing an array of programs focused on human development, economic development, and community engagement.  It offers a wide variety of workforce programs, including: Adult Literacy, Earn + Learn, Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program, PATH (Partnership. Accountability. Training. Hope.), and Supported Employment Services.  

Michigan continues to gain momentum.  Future plans for the State include bringing on additional third-party partners in Western Michigan in early 2017, deepening collaborations between DHHS and the MWAs, and developing a FAE&T Partner Handbook to improve communication to providers about policies and procedures.  Michigan is also exploring modifications to its Management Information System (MIS) to support FAE&T expansion and is mapping out client flow to ensure efficient processes for SNAP participants to access services.