Five-year program will give staff development a $1M boost


An enhanced commitment to University of Michigan staff promises to provide up to $1 million for professional and team development over five years.

President Santa J. Ono announced the Career Development Fund for Staff at the President’s Leadership Welcome on Nov. 17. Funding is provided by the Office of the Chief Financial Officer. Grants provided will support professional growth for individuals and teams.

“By providing these grants our intent is to enrich the lives of our colleagues, elevate the experience of our work teams, and cultivate excellence for the university,” said Geoffrey Chatas, executive vice president and chief financial officer. “And we hope to grow this program over time.”

Applications for the first round of grants are being accepted through Jan. 30, 2023. The goal is to provide $200,000 in financial support for individuals and teams for this and each of the next four fiscal years. Individuals may receive grants of up to $1,500 and teams up to $5,000.

“Providing a positive experience for our people is essential,” said Rich Holcomb, associate vice president for human resources. “It’s at the heart of everything we do. These grants will enable more of our amazing staff to seek out new ways to grow and contribute, like skill-building workshops, advanced certificates and degree programs.”

The newly announced fund is administered by University Human Resources in partnership with the Voices of the Staff program. It is an evolution of the Voices Career Development Fund, which launched during the university’s bicentennial and was funded entirely by employees.   

“As staff, your voices matter. Your contributions are essential,” said Dyan Jenkins-Ali, assistant director of Voices of the Staff. “This is a tangible investment of how important you are to our collective success. It’s the perfect opportunity for individuals to learn new skills and have more teams collaborate to enhance our workplace.”

During his address, Ono shared an example of how such funding can impact an individual. He introduced Jill Castro, a senior counselor with the Faculty and Staff Counseling and Consultation Office, and shared how funding enabled her to gain training to support new mothers.

After receiving treatment for post-partum depression, Castro became passionate about helping people navigate new parenthood.

“The Voices of the Staff grant allowed me to enroll in a certificate program to connect with other mental health professionals,” Castro said. “It helped me fine tune my skills in assessing and treating perinatal mood disorders, and offer specialized support to U-M employees.”


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