Wunderkammer Press Release 7/18/2017



Press Release:


Date: July 14, 2017

From:  Ling Becker, VHEDC Executive Director (651-485-9532)

          Peg Thomas, Sundance Family Foundation Manager (612 822-8580)

July 18, 2017 Wunderkammer: A Tech and Training Exploratorium of 21st Century Job Skills at the Maplewood YMCA

Tuesday afternoon, July 18, 2017 1-4pm, Maplewood YMCA, 2100 White Bear Ave is the launch of the area’s first Wunderkammer: A Tech and Training Exploratorium that allows youth to engage and to explore careers with which they are not familiar. These one on one micro-mentoring sessions allow seasoned technicians to talk about their own personal excitement in their fields. Sundance Family Foundation, Vadnais Heights Community Development Corporation (VHEDC), the Maplewood YMCA, and Mcguire Insurance are sponsoring the Wunderkammer. Transportation to and from the event for both St. Paul and Minneapolis youth is provided by 360mn.org — the Minnesota Center for Excellence in Manufacturing.

Shared conversations and an afternoon of engagement gives hope and direction to youth discovering unexplored career paths and attainable livable wage jobs.  “We offer engaging, hands-on occupational exhibits that guide youth to great local opportunities, and employers to untapped employment pools,” states Nancy Jacobs, Founder, President and Executive Director of Sundance. Careers and training in Manufacturing, Trades, Emerging Tech and City Services will be featured.

A shortage of more than 100,000 workers by 2020 is projected for the greater Twin Cities area–yet we abound with untapped talent. Youth living in low income communities, and youth from communities of color are facing 23% unemployment even when the average unemployment for all groups is currently 3.2%. “We are finding ways to cultivate these talented youth and link their energy and resourcefulness to the businesses that make our communities vibrant,” states Ling Becker, Executive Director of the Vadnais Heights Economic Development Corporation. “It’s up to us to change how we recruit, train, and retain workers,” says Becker.

The Wunderkammer model asks technicians to enthusiastically spark the  innate curiosity about unexplored living wage career opportunities for workforce ready youth. Work-a-day jobs are explained while the technicians and youth engage in an activity that is representational of a typical workplace skill.  This shared experience allows youth to feel welcomed. Technicians can begin to talk about their careers in production, training required and advancement opportunities to be achieved. Today’s youth have so much to bring to both manufacturing and the trades as is evident by their DIY videos, and youthful entrepreneurship. Youth will be encouraged to explore and experience. “Currently there are 800:1 eight hundred students to each guidance counselor in Minnesota public schools. Most youth just don’t know all of the exciting advanced manufacturing, information technology, healthcare and transportation careers that can be theirs with a short amount of training,” states Jacobs.  Each exhibit is staffed with experienced representatives from their field who want youth to succeed. Presenters will offer insider perspectives on how to get hired and share stories of their own personal successes.

For example, a local manufacturer Du Fresne brings 3D metal puzzles to these Wunderkammers for assembly while youth talk with their sheet metal press technicians. Tube Bending Specialists technicians help youth measure tubes using calipers to assess accuracy and quality control. Hmong American Partnership, Century College and St. Paul College demonstrate how their credential stacking opportunities can lead youth to gainful employment in a short time.

At the completion of the Wunderkammer youth are provided “lead-outs” to job, apprenticeship, internships and the essential scholarship information or next contact steps for those who are ready to move forward with a training or job application.

Participant employers and trainers include: H.B. Fuller, Bent Tubing Specialists, Du Fresne Manufacturing, Maplewood Pediatric Dentistry, FedEx, Century College, Carpenters Union, Bricklayers Union, McGough Construction, Hmong American Partnership, Maplewood Public Works, Maplewood Police Department, Maplewood Fire Department, Dunwoody Institute of Technology, Maplewood YMCA, and Real Time Talent.

Youth will be coming from: Asian Media Access, Green Garden Bakery, Elpis Enterprises, In Progress, Independent Filmmaker Project, Keystone Community Services, Urban Boatbuilders, The Lift Community Development Corp, Dream of Wild Health, Cookie Cart (Mpls and St. Paul), Cycles for Change, Centro Tyrone Guzman, Sisterhood Boutique, Triple C Cart and Catering, Brian Coyle Center, Pillsbury United Communities, Lake Center for Youth in Forest Lake,  and, BrightSide Produce.

For more information, please contact Ling Becker lingbecker@vhedc.com at 651-485-9532 or Peg Thomas peg@sundancefamilyfoundation.org at 612 822-8580.



Wunderkammer Vendor Event Details:

  • Tuesday, July 18 at the Maplewood Community Center/YMCA. Address is 2100 White Bear Ave, Maplewood, MN 55109.  You can pull up to the front of the building and look for the marked door to enter.
  • Vendors will set up anytime between 10:00 am and 12:00 pm.
  • Lunch is served for vendors courtesy of Maguire Insurance Agency (Refreshingly Different, Surprisingly Personal) at 12:15 pm with a short instructional program at 12:30pm
  • Youth will begin to arrive at the Maplewood YMCA at 12:30 pm for orientation (but will not yet enter the Wunderkammer space yet).
  • Youth will be moving through the Wunderkammer exhibit area between 1:00-4:00 pm. Each group of youth are expected to spend an hour engaging in different career opportunities of their choice. 
  • Here is some great info about how to set up your booth in How to Wunderkammer
  • Youth will leave the Wunderkammer area to a Reflections Area. Youth will hear from people like themselves who have entered nontraditional careers, entrepreneurial pathways, manufacturing, other trades, apprenticeships or training programs.

Your Exhibit: This is an opportunity for shared conversations and an afternoon of micro-mentoring that leads youth to discover unexplored career paths and attainable liveable wage jobs. Please guide youth as they explore a sampling of skills they might use in your particular career area.

Why a Wunderkammer is different than a Job Fair: We have attached a short summary: “How to Wunderkammer” with a few tips for engagement as your representatives engage with the youth. We want to move to interactive exploration between the technician and the youth. If you feel stuck as you plan your booth area, please contact me. We can lend assistance in this area. Also, please send more than one person from your company or training center. It will allow your technicians to interact more authentically with youth and be able to take short breaks as needed. Continuously inspiring scores of youth over an entire afternoon is tiring!

Flow of the Day for the Youth: The youth after arriving, will have a short orientation session. At this session, they will receive business cards. They will be asked to engage with exhibits and then leave a business card at exhibits that they have interest in, or want to further pursue in some way. We will provide each exhibit with a business card drop off container. At the end of the Wunderkammer, we will collect all of the containers. The names and emails will be compiled so that we can follow up with the youth based on their interests. The lists of youth will be sent to you the next day.

After the youth move through the Wunderkammer area (about an hour) they will move into a room for a guided discussion and reflections. Groups of youth will continuously leave as others arrive. We hope to move a total of 160 youth through this Wunderkammer between 12:30pm and 4:00pm.

Lead-Outs: This is where you come in! Please share with us what a next step might be? Could you provide a tour? Got opportunities we can pass along? A job, internship, apprenticeship or interview opportunity? Would you want them to have a particular credential? We’d like to be able to share those with the youth during and after the event. Certainly you will have these conversations with the youth when they are at your booth. Are there products, brochures or swag that you want youth to get either at your booth or as they leave that will reinforce your message?

Final Note: Because this is a new way to engage youth in career exploration, there will be various stakeholders walking through the area during the event as well. We will have some press coverage. We thank you for your cooperation and certainly let me know if there is anything that you want us to highlight to visitors or to the press about your company.  We will be sharing our press releases prior to and after the event with you.

See you soon!