Michael “Mikey” McKissic II’s family stands outside of the newly painted building on Kalamazoo Avenue in Lansing, MI.
LANSING, MI -- Michael McKissic lost his son, Michael “Mikey” McKissic II to a homicide in August of 2015. Since then McKissic has made it his mission to honor his son’s memory by creating the Mikey 23 Foundation.
McKissic says that he wants to give others the opportunity to gain skills that would lead to employment opportunities. Also, to make sure youth will have a positive outlook about their future.
During the last conversation McKissic had with his son, Mikey told his father that he wanted to take the reins of his family’s construction company, McKissic Construction.
McKissic says, “I was born and reared in Lansing. My dad was the first African American contractor in Lansing. When I was a kid, I spent my summer break working with my dad. I was on top of a house at the age of 8. I always love to work with my hands. My older brothers work during that time as well.”
Both McKissic and his father work for the company as did Mikey. He was passionate about the industry and was well on his way to becoming an expert.
Unfortunately, while standing on the front porch of a home in Lansing, 23-year-old Mikey’s life was cut short. Even though Mikey is longer here, his legacy is continuing through the foundation.
According to their website, the mission of the Mikey 23 Foundation is to improve the lives of young people through innovative education and training in the area of skilled trades. Led by licensed builders, electricians, plumbers, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning contractors, the "Foundation" will provide hands-on opportunities for self-development and growth, thereby empowering young people to reach their full potential.
It also states that the construction industry is facing a severe labor shortage. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, millennials currently comprises the largest labor force in America. The median age of construction industry workers is 42.8 years, with workers under 34 years of age accounting for less than 1/3 of the total workforce.
The Mikey 23 Foundation assists with preparing individuals from all walks of life with opportunity and the necessary skills and abilities to obtain a life-long career in a high-demand industry.
Mc Kissic says, “We are working with youth from ages 8 to 45. For those who are underage, we work with them on the weekends. The other age group works Monday through Friday. The reason we included the underage started with my neighbors who are grandparents to an 8-year-old and a 10-year-old. Having custody of two very energetic grandkids, Mikey 23 Foundation teaching them has been very useful and helpful to their grandparents.”
The foundation accepts work trucks, construction tools, construction clothing, abandoned homes, fire damaged homes, gift cards, and any other items that will help them with their mission to help others.
Since the inception of the foundation, there has been much growth and support. They now assist homeless veterans with housing, the elderly with home repairs and help felons returning to the community with food, clothing, and shelter.
They are now officially an apprenticeship program with the state of Michigan and McKissic states that it could not be done without the help of volunteers and donors.
McKissic says, “Pat Gillespie and the Gillespie Group has been a great sponsor. Not only are they allowing Mikey 23 to utilize one of their building, where we will be training our youth on how to build kitchen cabinets and doors. They also, paid the youth to work on their buildings. The experience of the new building was great. Pat Gillespie knows my passion and the foundation’s mission. The mural of Mikey brings joy to our family. Kids around town have taken photos and posted them on their social media says a lot about the positive effect Mikey had upon them.”
Some of the highlights of the the Mikey 23 Foundation:
- Teamed up with CATA to make bus stop benches around town. These benches will have the foundation’s logo on them and a pantry.
- Mikey's siblings Imani, Natasha, and Corey have started the Siblings Against Guns (Violence) organization to help other siblings who experience a murder in the family.
- A scholarship. Participants will write a 500 word essay on how to stop the violence in Lansing.
- Training individuals how to make kitchen cabinets and doors.
More recently, Mikey’s family has raised a $50,000 award for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever is responsible for his death. They have a billboard that was obtained specifically for getting the information out to the community and to let those involved know that they are not giving up until his murder is solved.
If you would like to learn more, volunteer, or if you know of youth who may be interested in a career in the skilled trades, please contact Michael McKissic at 517.712.8446 or email him at email@example.com.