Minneapolis (August 11, 2010) – Mayor R.T. Rybak and 1,350 of the youth employed through the City’s STEP-UP program celebrated the completion of their summer program Wednesday at a Minneapolis Convention Center event. The students worked as paid interns throughout the city at 178 businesses and organizations that partnered with a commitment to training the city’s future workforce.
“In Minneapolis, we haven’t let the slow economy slow us down: we’re continuing to help people find jobs and make sure our young people grow up knowing that Minneapolis is a city where they can succeed,” stated Mayor R.T. Rybak. “Because of STEP-UP, the young people graduating today are on the path to success: all summer long, they have been gaining work experience and life skills, building relationships with co-workers and mentors, and earning a paycheck.”
Interns that spoke about their STEP-UP experience included Derrick Charleston, who worked at the law firm, Nilan Johnson Lewis; and Alexis Harris, who was employed by Kaleidoscope Place, a program devoted to children and families in the Phillips neighborhood.
“A central component of The Minneapolis Promise is that if young people take responsibility for their education, we will help them find meaningful summer employment – and with STEP-UP, we’re delivering on that part of the promise,” Rybak added. “But we wouldn’t be able to do it without our great partner in the business community, whose commitment to training tomorrow’s workforce has been unwavering. Because of their commitment, we were able to grow STEP-UP this year, despite the current economic challenges.”
The City’s youth employment and training programs placed more than 2,200 Minneapolis youth in jobs this summer. From 2002 through 2010, the City placed approximately 14,000 youth, ages 14-21 in summer jobs; last year 2,300 youth were placed with 500 funded by federal stimulus money. Through 2009, 82 percent of STEP-UP participants were youth of color.
“With the ever-increasing diversity of our patients and members, the importance of having a workforce that reflects the communities we serve is vital. We know that it will lead to better health outcomes,” said Calvin U. Allen, senior vice president of Human Resources and Corporate Strategic Planning, HealthPartners.
“The youth in the STEP-UP program represent our community. Not only do they bring racial, ethnic and cultural diversity to our work, but they bring with them the fresh perspectives only young people can provide,” Allen added. “And hopefully the interns benefit from picking up some useful job skills from us. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship and we’re proud to be a part of it.”