Grant aids effort to help ex-prisoners - WNEM TV 5

Grant aids effort to help ex-prisoners

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)
FLINT, MI (WNEM) -

There is a growing support in Flint for an initiative that targets former prisoners.

That initiative just received a major financial donation.

“Our focus is mostly on returning citizens, people getting out of prison returning to their community. At risk youth and veterans, people that have been marginalized and displaced,” said Leon El-Alamin, executive director and founder of MADE.

El-Alamin’s passion is helping people change their lives for the better.

“I decided that we have to use our experience to kind of reach back to try to curb some of this negativity,” El-Alamin said.

The Flint native, who once served years in prison on a drug conviction, is now serving his community. He is the founder of MADE, a program that helps convicted felons get housing, counseling and job training.

The Flint water crisis has inspired the organization to create the EPIK program. It’s a skilled training course backed by the state.

“We got $85,000 grant we won. It was in partnership with Detroit training center, the MADE Institution and we are in connection with the state workforce department,” El-Alamin said.

The program gives 18 people from Flint a second chance. They will learn skills they can use in the construction industry.

The program lasts six weeks and afterward, students will be certified in lead abatement and carpentry.

“The more certified I am, the more educated I am, the better I’ll be able to provide for my family,” said Derek Hatter, student.

El-Alamin is confident training will help spark the interest of job recruiters as well. He is grateful the state has chosen to invest in the MADE Institute and the EPIK program, which means they are investing in the people of Flint.

“With the water crisis, we’ve seen all kinds of money come through. We just want to make sure that the little guys, the people that have had all kinds of barriers, that they’re able to be part of the rebuilding of the city,” El-Alamin said.

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