“Detroit’s story is one of the greatest comebacks of all time,” says Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase. “Having served the city for more than 90 years, especially after it filed the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history, we’re proud to share the successes and stories of Detroiters who helped make it happen.”
Since 2013, JPMorgan Chase has invested more than $200 million in Detroit’s economic recovery, with a major focus on helping job-seekers participate in training programs aligned with high-demand industries. Thanks to the firm’s investments and the tireless work of its local partners, nearly 72,000 people have been placed into apprenticeships, full or part time jobs.
JPMorgan Chase showcased a few of these stories in its national “Make Happen” campaign and its local extension in Detroit, which launched earlier this year. In honor of this work and the ways JPMorgan Chase is supporting its clients, customers, employees and communities around the world, Jamie Dimon was honored with the Ad Council's Public Service Award. This is one of countless stories of the partners who powered the city’s progress.
Unemployment and Uncertainty
When Detroit filed the largest municipal bankruptcy in July 2013, one in four Detroit residents were unemployed and 36 percent of the city’s population was living below the poverty line. The region’s job sprawl was one of the worst in the country – a symptom of the city’s lack of jobs. Based on the ratio of jobs and residents, Detroit only had jobs for 37% of its population in 2014.
To understand the state of Detroit’s labor market and workforce development infrastructure, JPMorgan Chase collaborated with Corporation for a Skilled Workforce (CSW), where one of its key partners Nicole Sherard-Freeman served as Director of the Detroit Portfolio at the time. CSW’s research underscored the need for a coordinated effort between the city, residents and employers to better align training and educational programs with well-paying, in-demand jobs that existed in Detroiter’s own neighborhoods.
But perhaps most importantly, it galvanized local workforce leaders and helped promote a shared understanding of the challenges and the systemic solutions required to achieve the city’s vision for its workforce.
The Rise of Detroit at Work
In 2017, Sherard-Freeman took on Detroit’s workforce development challenges from a new perspective, joining the city’s workforce agency as CEO of Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation (DESC) to oversee its talent readiness strategy. Here, she helped create Detroit at Work, which, thanks to continued collaboration between local government, community organizations, and private sector partners like JPMorgan Chase, reimagined the city’s workforce development infrastructure.
Applying the insights from her original research at CSW, Sherard-Freeman focused on job training programs and career pathways aligned to jobs in growing career sectors, including healthcare, information technology and manufacturing. With JPMorgan Chase’s support, Detroit at Work transformed how jobseekers, employers and partners connect.
The numbers speak for themselves. Today, Detroit at Work’s career centers cover each of the city’s council districts and have helped more than 40,000 Detroiters secure employment. Unemployment also fell under 7 percent in 2023, its lowest since 2000. What the numbers don’t show, however, is the full impact of these opportunities. “Securing a job is just the first step,” says Peter Scher, Vice Chairman of JPMorgan Chase who oversaw the firm’s investment in Detroit. “We’re seeing Detroiters reach their financial goals and achieve their dreams, whether it’s buying a car, their first home or starting their own business.”
The Benefits of Early Investments
Detroit at Work continues to help match job seekers to corporations of all sizes, including JPMorgan Chase. In 2022, when JPMorgan Chase was looking to pilot its virtual customer service program in the U.S., it turned to Detroit. 48 hours after a conversation between Peter Scher and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan confirming the virtual call center pilot, Detroit at Work curated a robust list of impressive candidates. Exceeded its initial recruitment goals, JPMorgan Chase hired nearly every candidate it interviewed.
Now in its second year, the call center has hired more than 90 employees, and —through continued partnership with Detroit at Work — has trained its third cohort. The firm has also expanded this program to Baltimore, where it welcomed 40 members of the community to the company in October 2023. In collaboration with partners like Detroit at Work, JPMorgan Chase is helping to keep up the momentum and create employment opportunities that match the needs of the community.
Sherard-Freeman went on to lead economic development for the city of Detroit in addition to workforce in 2021. In 2023, she left to join the Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan as its first Chief Operating Officer.
Learn more about how JPMorgan Chase is helping to strengthen Detroit’s local economy and revitalize communities.