Real-World Approach

An Organization Born in the Heart of Grand Rapids

About Us

Formerly known as School-to-Career Progressions, Ingenium was started in 2000 by Cascade Engineering as a derivative of its successful Welfare-to-Career program, designed to hire welfare recipients and guide them from welfare into a meaningful career.

The Welfare-to-Career program has guided some 800 individuals off welfare. Its success has been recognized and replicated across the nation. The program was the vision of Fred Keller, founder and chairman of Cascade Engineering in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Ingenium’s focus is helping kids to stay in school, graduate from high school, and then enroll in college or join the workforce with a job that offers opportunity for advancement.

The curriculum for youth, used originally in several Kent County school districts, was developed from the experiences of individuals who had overcome personal adversity and is in line with evidence-based leading practices.

In 2007, the character skills program was expanded to include a Diversion Program for first-time offenders in the Kent County justice system. The program teaches Strong Character skills that equip youth with the strong character tools to achieve long-term success. According to a Kent County Family Division judge, of the roughly 500 students who successfully completed this program, nearly 90 percent were not referred to the court by police within the following year.

The Strong Character program started by School-to-Career Progressions is expanding again, this time under its new name—Ingenium. That’s Latin for “character.”

Ingenium not only has a new workbook for students but also a workbook for parents on how to coach their children, and one for adults who work with kids, plus online courses for all three groups and an online app for kids to help with goal setting and doing what is right. See Resources for the full list of courses and the links to enroll.

The Ingenium Generation

We’re on a Mission to Help Today’s Kids Succeed

The People Behind Ingenium

Distinguished Leaders, Subject-Matter Experts,
and Dedicated Practitioners

The Ingenium Team

Ingenium’s team includes nationally recognized leaders such as Fred Keller, creator of the nationally acclaimed “Welfare-to-Career” program.

Michael Daniels, Executive Director

Michael Daniels developed the highly effective and research-supported “I have, I will, and I see” approach to character development through his own early life experiences. Michael grew up in the inner city of Grand Rapids, attended the public schools, and learned first-hand how challenging school, work, and life can be. Michael tragically lost his mother due to domestic violence when he was five.

He was raised by his grandmother and had limited exposure to others in a professional career. He saw black people as only bag boys in the grocery store or hustlers on TV, and this shaped how he viewed himself. Like many youth today, Michael struggled in school, failing the third grade and never making positive decisions toward a career. In seventh grade…

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Board of Directors

The Ingenium Board of Directors is comprised of a team of highly diverse professionals and community leaders who share a common vision for strengthening communities through equipping students with character and resiliency skills.

Staff and Interns

Ingenium employs a highly qualified team of masters-level practitioners, and it engages interns from various disciplines, including education and social sciences, to support program development and delivery. Participating universities include Western Michigan University, Grand Valley State University, the University of Phoenix, Calvin College, and Aquinas College.