Graco Tour and the Importance of Engagement

Graco Tour and the Importance of Engagement

October 12th, found  Sundance Family Foundation and the Minneapolis North leading youth from North Minneapolis high schools on a tour of Graco20161013_083938(0) Inc. This tour as a part of the  national, “Manufacturing Days”, featured Graco, a neighbor, as one of the over 2000 employers who opened their doors to youth, highlighting the vast array of opportunities found in an industrial vocation. Sponsors included the Minneapolis School District, Workforce Development, The Minnesota Center for Excellence in Manufacturing, and Sundance Family Foundation.

Our tour group began with students from Henry High School. This is the first tour that Sundance has facilitated with Minneapolis Public Schools faculty.

Of the eighteen youth in attendance, five were from after-school youth development programs called Youth Social Entrepreneurships. They included students enrolled in programs with  Appetite for Change, and Elpis Enterprises. Directors Paul Ramsor from Elpis 20161013_090946and Darryl Lindsey from Appetite for Change were on board for the interactive tour, as well. Youth Social Entrepreneurship (YSE) integrate practices of positive youth development with community engagement and social entrepreneurship. Youth learn while they earn, receiving opportunities to grow their knowledge of business management and entrepreneurial thinking,  leadership development, first time job skills, and learning to become leader representatives within their communities.

Our group was greeted with a warm reception from the Graco staff. This was their first effort hosting a tour for Manufacturing Days, and what an incredible job they did!

We were split into three smaller groups, each with a 30-minute tour of the production facility. This part of the tour focused on the products that Graco makes, but more importantly, the personable tour guides drew our focus to all the captivating machinery that was around us. Without exception, the youth were energized and engaged every moment of the tour.

After our stroll through this multi-million dollar robotics wonderland, we were brought to a space that housed a series of six stations with interactive20161013_092151 activities especially developed for the youth.These activities were designed to highlight a particular aspect of manufacturing success. There was a game that demonstrated supply chain thinking; and a station showing the importance of measuring. These spaces were not focused on “teaching” these skills, as much as allowing youth to “try them out.”

20161013_091842This approach is similar to the Sundance Wunderkammer model designed to engage youth at tech and training fairs in a more collaborative, interactive manner than traditional job fairs. The interactive design model is presented with the goal of evoking curiosity and awe, with
the hope that youth will be sparked to envision themselves working in a job or on a career path within a particular company or industry.

After working our way through the stations, our group
20161013_094130was brought to still another space that was set up with representatives from various trade schools and Graco HR staff. This, combined with donuts and sodas, ended the interactive tour on a memorable note for the teens from Minneapolis Public Schools. Graco Inc. accomplished greatness with the youth, conveying a sense of interest, high levels of skill development, innovation and pride, and showed various career paths available for a future employee at Graco. It could be heard by several youth, post tour, as they entered their school bus, “This would be a cool place to work.”

Cool, indeed. 

The Star and Tribune also recorded moments from this tour. You can find that story by following the link HERE.

YSE Alumni Spotlight Armani Black

YSE Alumni Spotlight: Armani Black

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Armani Black is a YSE alumna who’s experienced many forms of success. She recently earned her B.S. degree in International Business and Management Information Systems from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. Armani has been awarded multiple internships and a fellowship, and studied abroad in several countries. She was President  of the National Association of Black Accountants her senior year of college, and currently works for the multi-billion dollar Fortune 500 Company Accenture, as a Technology Consulting Analyst.

Armani began her Youth Social Entrepreneurial journey as a youth intern at Urban Roots. This YSE organization, located on  St. Paul’s East Side, offers youth ages 14-21 training in Positive Youth Development, Social and Emotional Learning, and Community Engagement, through a focus on agricultural development.  Armani began  work with Urban Roots in their Market Garden program. This program teaches a cohort of youth to “plant, maintain, and harvest small-scale crop production within urban gardens.”

China

It might be confusing to some to connect this sort of agricultural training with entrepreneurial development. However, in addition to the gardening basics, Urban Roots folds youth into the management of the gardens, and the distribution of their crops to the community. This distribution takes many forms, including local Farmer’s Market sales, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) relations, selling locally-grown and prepared salads at Twins baseball games in the Roots for the Home Team program, and person-to-person negotiations with local chefs to meet the market needs of their restaurants. These programs are all youth-led, and often with peer-to-peer training. Urban Roots allows for youth to participate for more than one year, which gives the more experienced student workers the opportunity to train the new interns, while developing their own leadership skills.

When asked  if this type of managerial training helped with her current position, Armani told me that it did and so much of her success derived from “getting in there and doing the work.”  She had her fair share of hours of gardening on hot, summer days, which she believes equipped her with skills of patience, hard work, and teamwork. She often draws on these experiences to help guide her as a leader.

Armani shared a story about an internship that she had while in college. “It just wasn’t a good fit,” she explained. She described that it was not a bad company to work for and that other students might relish her position. However, she complained about the pace of the work being too slow. Armani told me, “I felt like I was wasting their money.” Amani was extended an offer to stay on after her internship, but she took a more entrepreneurial approach.  To get the highest return on her investment, she worked through the internship, doing more than was expected. Amani said, “I left on a great note, and got a reference that I used to get a position that is a better fit.”

Entrepreneurship is so often a combination of high level managerial awareness, leadership skills, risk taking, and problem solving, coupled with the trained ability to see any project through. At Urban Roots, Armani says she startedNABA to develop the skills and habits that got her to where she is, but also guided her thinking about where she hopes to go in the future. Because of her exceptional skills, once she accepted her offer of employment at Accenture, she was offered her choice of locations to work. Accenture has offices across the country and internationally; Armani made a choice for personal growth and moved to experience the American South. She told me it was a hard choice. She misses her family, but that what she is learning personally and professionally now will help her and her community when she returns in the future.

Sundance2We discussed what might have been missing from Armani’s YSE experience. She told me that she would have liked, “more collaboration with other YSE groups.” She said that learning and building skills with others in her program was fantastic, but that connecting with other programs more would have  allowed her to connect with other students across Minnesota who are making a difference in their communities and networking is key to development.

In other parts of the world, Armani points out, “YSE organizations are just called ‘nonprofits.’” She pointed out that these international organizations need a revenue generating component to their operation. This is not just to provide quality programing, but to simply survive. As she sees it, both she, these organizations, and other nonprofits, are greatly served with the adaption and development of an entrepreneurial vision.

You can learn more about Armani’s story. Particularly, what brought her to start working with YSE organizations. This story and others are featured in the documentary produced by the Sundance Family Foundation, Changemaker’s: Teens Who Learn and Earn, and featured on Twin Cities Public Television (TPT). To enjoy this video, please follow this link HERE

Manufacturing Career Interest in Manufacturing Month

Manufacturing Career Interest in Manufacturing Month

October 5th  found the Sundance Family Foundation partnering with Minneapolis North Workforce Center and the Minnesota Center for Excellence in Manufacturing, to bring 24 charter school students on a tour of one of Minnesota’s leading manufacturers, MME Group in Vadnais Heights.

The students came from Minnesota Internship Center (MNIC) and 800 Broadway School, both charter schools in North Minneapolis.

MME Group provided an incredible tour of the possibilities for careers in manufacturing as well as the various ways young people can begin their manufacturing journeys.

20161005_135718Brian Bussmann, company president and founder welcomed the students into MME Group Meeting Room to meet with a panel made up of HR personnel, managers, and Mr. Bussmann. Brian offered part of his professional story, with the other members of the panel (Jared, Jerry, and Tonya) offering theirs as well. From this presentation, we heard that some people can go to school right out of high school, some can get experience from other careers, and others can start
working in manufacturing as soon as they turn eighteen.20161005_135155

The panel opened up for a  round of questions. The questions differed, but the response of the student audience was pretty much the same after each questions. Some would ask something like, “How much would I start at?” which would be followed by an answer that surprised and pleased the group. “Depends on the job. Most in at entry level start at $14 an hour or so.” These answers were always 20161005_132912(0)followed by a moment of shocked silence, and then a quiet rumbling between the groups of friends that made up the school groups. One20161005_133704 young man after this questions called out, “Are you hiring?” A wave of awe went over the crowd as the HR director said, “Yes.”

Following the panel, our group was split up into three different groups. We all had the same tour path, but started at different points. The students were able to meet the people on the floor; Not just on the assemble line, but in the clean room and in the lab area. Students were able to talk with the tool makers and the people involved in higher precision work. Afterwards, it was clear many could see themselves in
these jobs.

20161005_133231MME Group was kind enough to offer their space, and  as an exercise, they gave us job applications for the students to fill out. There is something to be said about getting students used to filling out real applications at a real job site. . If they do it once they are likely to try it again. Filling out the apps might just lead to them actually turning them in. We will keep these groups in the fold regarding opportunities in industrial vocations. And, we will keep making connections with youth programs and these incredible companies.

Socially Responsible Investing (SRI)

Sundance Family Foundation is a nimble and progressive local private foundation with a mission to “strengthen youth development and support family stability.” Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) is an investment strategy that focuses on Environmental, Social and Governance criteria (ESG) to measure sustainability and ethical impacts of investments in a company or business. A triple bottom line investment looks for impact in these three areas, using internal and external screens as a broad set of concerns that measure return on investment. Factors such as employee discrimination policies (an internal screen) and avoidance of investing in traded companies with perceived social harm such as tobacco production (external screen) are examples of filters used for ethical decision making inherent in Socially Responsible Investing. This vehicle for driving philanthropic impact is endorsed by numerous investment houses throughout the world, as well as the U.S. based Mission Investors Exchange.   A glossary of Socially Responsible Investing terms compiled by the Mission Investors Exchange can be found here.  As well a downloadable PDF document funded by the H.B. Herron and developed by the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors is available here.

Social Responsible Investing Definitions

Socially Responsible Investing is similar to Mission Related Investing (MRI). MRI is a type or subcategory of an SRI. Both consider social, environmental and financial returns, employing various methods to achieve these returns. However, MRI is individually targeted to each individual organization’s specific mission, and, is actively using investing as a means to furthering the individual organization’s mission. The institution’s core values are directly connected to its financial activities.

The Mission Investors Exchange (MIE) provides resources for foundations and other organizations that use investments as tools for achieving their values based philanthropic goals. MIE is a resource for more than 200 foundations and other organizations.

Founder and Sundance Family Foundation President Nancy Jacobs along with an engaged Sundance Board of Directors, strives toward triple bottom line impact as the Foundation adheres to a values-based, empowerment model of philanthropy. This investment strategy is also exemplified through Sundance’s supportive grantmaking to Youth Social Entrepreneurial (YSE) organizations, and through its work to develop the YSE Twin Cities ecosystem. Sundance also works to leverage community initiatives by joining forces with philanthropic, private and government partners.

Values Based Investing (another term for Socially Responsible Investing) can be advanced through other methods which Sundance also employs including:

  • Program Related Investments (PRI) and other community loans
  • Purchasing economic goods and services from local vendors, especially those from under-resourced communities
  • Banking through a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and joint capital investments
  • KIVA International micro financing and other loans and programs that connect entrepreneurs in developing countries through the Internet with their local lenders
  • Microfinance loans

The Sundance Family Foundation has joined the ranks of national leaders by investing the largess of the Foundation’s assets into triple bottom line Mission Investment Funds. Click here to discover a bit more about social impact investing around the country.

The impact of Sundance’s strong investment policy has served the foundation and the global community in four important ways:

  1. Sundance’s mission investments leverage grantmaking impact by actively investing corpus dollars into domestic and global funds that create community redevelopment, including housing and job creation
  2. Sundance’s investments give Shareholder Advocates powerful advocacy opportunities to expose unethical corporate policies and practices, and promote internal and external social changes in historic and profound ways through proxy voting, direct dialogue with corporate executive leadership, influencing the development of public policy, and positive impact on company policies, practices and performance. Their effective influence on corporate change produces industry-wide positive improvements
  3. Socially Responsible Investing enhances the impact of the Foundation’s grantmaking dollars exponentially by investing in community redevelopment efforts
  4.  Sundance has secured a financial Return on Investment (ROI) that is consistently commensurate with or exceeds standard market rate benchmark indices

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The Minnesota Council on Foundations published an article in the Spring 2014 Newsletter featuring the Sundance Family Foundation as follows:

The Sundance article in Giving Forum: http://www.mcf.org/news/giving-forum/sundance-impact

SRI Investing: A View from an Investment Manager piece: http://www.mcf.org/system/asset_manager_pdfs/0000/4034/sri_extra.pdf

Both articles are linked from the Spring 2014 Giving Forum page on the MCF site: http://www.mcf.org/news/giving-forum/spring-2014

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How to Develop a Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) Program for Your Foundation

Introduction: 

The Sundance Family Foundation was established to support and strengthen family stability worldwide and has a particular focus on supporting projects that encourage youth social entrepreneurship.  In the summer of 2009, Sundance embarked on a quest to incorporate socially responsible investments into their investment program.  Socially responsible investing (SRI), also known as sustainable, socially conscious, “green” or ethical investing, is any investment strategy which seeks to consider both financial return and social good.  Sundance wanted to invest their assets more in alignment with their core values and to make a positive impact on the world with their investments.  This is a recap of how Sundance has pursued this socially responsible investment strategy over the past several years in collaboration with an independent, fee-only registered investment advisory firm.  Both parties have learned much as they have built an investment program for Sundance that is in alignment with their mission, their core values and their socially responsible investment (SRI) mandate.

The Sundance investment committee decided to search for an investment advisor to help them to develop a socially responsible investment program.  They wanted to pursue a comprehensive and disciplined investment approach to ethical investing which combines prudent investment management (including diversification to manage risk and the objective to earn market returns) with the equally important goal to “do good” with their money.

Allodium Investment Consultants is an independent fee-only registered investment advisory firm based in Minneapolis.  Allodium understands that socially responsible investment preferences are by definition going to be unique to the core values that are present in a foundation or endowment investment portfolio.

Initial Inquiry at Allodium

In September of 2009, Allodium was approached by Sundance to help with socially responsible investing.  Sundance wanted to develop a socially responsible investment strategy and to get their investments in alignment with their core values.   In the initial call to Allodium, the Allodium team agreed to help Sundance to clearly define and document the socially responsible goals and preferences of the Foundation.  In a subsequent meeting with the Sundance investment committee, Allodium listened to the needs of the organization and agreed to help Sundance to clarify their investment objectives and to help them to design and develop an investment program that would get their investments in alignment with their SRI investment preferences.  Sundance shared that they wanted to “do good” with their money and “avoid the evil” by not funding companies that are destroying the world.  They wanted to use their money to make the world a better place.

Allodium worked with Sundance to help them to define what they meant to pursue “socially responsible investments”.  Allodium uses a values questionnaire that helps an investment committee to clarify and define each investor’s unique socially responsible investment preferences.   Allodium summarized the results of the completed questionnaire for Sundance and developed a matrix of the key socially responsible investment preferences to avoid and/or to emphasize.  From the analysis of the socially responsible investment questionnaire, the Allodium team learned that the socially responsible investment priorities for the Sundance investment committee revolved around making investments in companies that are protecting the environment, promoting economic development and community development as well as providing financing for low income housing, while at the same time “screening out” companies that have poor business practices that harm society at large.

The primary benefit provided by the investment consultant at this initial stage was to listen to the investment committee, to document what they said and to reflect back to the investment committee what they were saying.  Allodium was then able to develop an investment plan that was tailored to the needs of the Sundance Family Foundation.

Allodium believes that fiduciary investors can balance socially responsible investing with fiduciary best practices.  While listening to the priorities of the Sundance investment committee, Allodium documented two specific investment goals for Sundance:

  1. Broad diversification.  The investment committee defined broad diversification as a key goal and wanted to implement as many socially responsible investment strategies as could be achieved within the parameters of investing with broad diversification to manage investment risk.   Allodium strives to help fiduciary investors to fulfill their fiduciary obligations under the law.   This decision to diversify by asset class helped the investment committee to fulfill their fiduciary duty to be prudent in their investment decision-making process.
  2. Competitive Market returns.  The investment committee did not want to add socially responsible investment strategies at the expense of achieving market returns.  The investment committee wanted to incorporate socially responsible investments while earning competitive, market returns on their investments.

Successful investing has a lot to do with the concept of avoiding mistakes.  Socially responsible investment strategies may actually lead to an investment decision-making process that minimizes the number of problems related to the environment, social issues like work place policies and corporate governance.   A socially responsible investment strategy may actually lead to a reduction in certain types of investment risk over time.  If socially responsible investing actually reduces the number of problems in an investment portfolio, this reduction in mistakes could potentially lead to enhanced investment performance over long periods of time.

At this point in the process, the Allodium team drafted an investment policy statement for Sundance that documented the investment objectives for the Foundation as well as a specific paragraph that described their socially responsible investment mandate.

Phase One:  Equity Mutual Funds and Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs)

Allodium is independent of the traditional Wall Street banks and brokerage firms to eliminate the conflicts of interest related to proprietary investment products.  This allows Allodium to search for investments that are in alignment with the unique investment goals and preferences of investment committees using an open architecture approach that includes all possible investment options for the foundation.

The initial thrust of the Sundance SRI Investment strategy was implemented primarily with domestic equity mutual funds and exchange traded funds (ETFs) because the domestic equity asset class has the most choices for SRI investments.  The Morningstar database currently has approximately 27,000 individual investment choices in their mutual fund and exchanged-traded fund universe. Of that fund universe, only 466 funds are currently categorized as SRI choices (approximately 2% of the fund choices).   The challenge at this point was to help the Sundance investment committee to develop a process to screen the SRI investment managers to identify a smaller set of suitable investments for the foundation.  Allodium used the fi360 Toolkit (www.fi360.com) to screen the specific funds on nine due diligence criteria to reduce the fund choices to a more manageable subset of the SRI fund universe.

SRI investors can choose from both active investment managers and lower cost passive investment managers.  In the course of the due diligence research process, Allodium found active domestic large cap SRI equity investment managers at established SRI investment firms such as Parnassus Investments and Calvert Investments.  The due diligence research also uncovered several passive strategies such as exchange traded index funds from investment companies such as iShares and low cost institutional mutual funds from Dimensional Fund Advisors.

The international equities asset class proved to be more difficult due to a limited number of high-quality choices but investment firms like Boston Common Asset Management have introduced commingled accounts and mutual funds to provide international equity exposure for SRI investors.  These new vehicles provide SRI investors the opportunity to diversify with international equities to help to manage investment risk with broad diversification.

At the end of phase one, Sundance had accomplished 13% exposure to pure SRI investments.

Phase Two:  Fixed Income Mutual Funds and Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs)

After the initial implementation phase with domestic and international equity mutual funds and exchange-traded funds, Sundance wanted to be more proactive with their fixed income investments.  Their focus turned to professional investment managers who would be more active lending in low income communities that would encourage community development and redevelopment.  Allodium was able to identify several mutual fund managers who were making investments in low income communities to provide more capital to urban areas that need low cost capital.  Community Capital Management and Access Capital Community Investment are fixed income investment firms that provide investment capital in urban areas that need funding for low income housing and urban redevelopment.  Sundance learned that some of the best impact investments with high social impact happen to be in the fixed income arena.

To complement the community redevelopment funds that focused on proactive investment in low income urban communities, Sundance also wanted to find fixed income investment managers that would be able to screen out poorly rated investments similar to the screening out process that the SRI equity managers were using.  Allodium was excited to uncover unique SRI fixed income strategies from both mutual fund companies like Praxis and separately account managers like Breckinridge Capital Advisors that provided the capability to screen out specific types of unattractive investments.

At the end of phase two, Sundance had increased their exposure to 30% SRI investments.

Phase Three:  Professionally Managed Separately Managed Accounts (SMAs)

Up until this time, primarily mutual funds were being used by the Foundation due to the ease of access to mutual funds subject to relatively low investment requirements.  The Sundance Family Foundation received a major contribution to the foundation in 2013 that allowed for the investment committee to consider new types of investment vehicles such as separately managed accounts which have higher minimum account sizes but which also have the ability to invest in individual securities that are more in alignment with the SRI objectives of the foundation.  Interest in moving beyond mutual funds and into separately managed accounts (SMAs) took shape when Sundance learned that a separately managed account manager like Breckinridge Capital Advisors for fixed income could not only screen out investments that did not pass environmental, social and governance (ESG) screens but that they actually had the capability to target their investments in specific geographic areas and or sectors of the economy that could provide high positive impact in ESG factors.  Separate account managers have a much greater opportunity to invest in individual companies that are cooperative in SRI shareholder resolutions and collaborate with socially responsible investors.

Sundance felt that they had fulfilled their fiduciary obligations by building a broadly diversified and socially responsible investment portfolio, but the Sundance board of directors wanted something more – to have even more positive impact on society and the environment with their liquid assets.  The Sundance investment committee challenged their investment advisor to seek out professional investment managers who would be able to engage in shareholder advocacy and public policy work.  Sundance had built a portfolio that was good at screening out unattractive investments but the investment committee wanted to pursue a more proactive socially responsible investment strategy with more social impact.

Sundance Family Foundation learned how to generate high impact with shareholder advocacy in a liquid investment strategy by utilizing separately managed accounts.  Sundance learned about the methods that can be used by impact investors to effect positive social change through shareholder advocacy by engaging the professional investment management firms that are engaged in shareholder advocacy for impact investors.  They learned that they can leverage the power of stock ownership to promote social and environmental change by engaging in shareholder advocacy for environmental, social and governance factors.

Allodium learned about practical socially responsible investment solutions via networking with other foundations and endowments both in the local community and also at national investment conferences.  Also, in October, 2013, Allodium attended the annual SRI Conference in Colorado Springs, Colorado with the primary objective to identify the professional investment managers engaged in shareholder advocacy.

Working with Allodium, Sundance was ultimately able to identify and retain a number of professional separate account managers who are actively engaged in shareholder advocacy which includes proxy voting, filing shareholder resolutions, engaging in company dialogues and influencing the development of public policy.  Client-centric SRI solutions include separate account managers at Trillium Asset Management, Zevin Asset Management and Breckinridge Capital Advisors.  Sundance understands the benefits of separately managed accounts and has been fully engaged with the opportunity to engage in shareholder advocacy and the opportunities with the separate account managers to add emphasis to a particular investment sector.

After implementing the SRI separately managed accounts and adding to existing SRI mutual funds and ETFs, Sundance had achieved 80% SRI exposure and was positioned to investigate the opportunities in more illiquid impact investment strategies.

Phase Four:  Illiquid Impact Investments

The Sundance committee has challenged Allodium to find illiquid investments that will have even greater positive social impact, often called “double bottom line” or “triple bottom line” investments.  Liquid investments are typically publicly-traded, daily liquid investments like mutual funds, exchange traded funds, index funds, and individual stocks and bonds which are easy to liquidate and easy to benchmark with common market benchmarks and indices.  Illiquid investments offer some interesting opportunities for high impact but also might create difficulties with minimal daily liquidity, a lack of valuations at daily market prices and higher costs.

Sundance is interested in exploring the potential to have even greater social impact with illiquid impact investments.  Allodium has recommended that Sundance compare the benefits of liquid versus illiquid social impact investments.  While there are some disadvantages to illiquid investments, high impact investors may want to incorporate high social impact investments into their portfolio.

High impact, illiquid investments are the new frontier and provide some interesting opportunities for socially responsible investors who want to have a great positive impact on the world with their investments.  Allodium has been monitoring illiquid impact investment databases such as Impact Assets and Mission Investors to search for unique investments that are in alignment with the Sundance SRI mandate.

Illiquid impact investments are sometimes high cost, may provide low returns and a lack of disclosure that may lead to a lack of transparency that makes prudent investment decision-making more difficult.  Also, the lack of historical performance data may make this type of investing seem like a venture into a highway turnpike in the middle of a dense fog.  It is appropriate that investors move with caution and be deliberate to minimize the chances for costly mistakes.

Sundance decided to limit their initial allocation to illiquid, high impact investments to 10% of their overall portfolio and to insist upon at least quarterly valuations to provide for some opportunity to monitor the investment performance of these investments.  They decided that it is important to have performance data on illiquid impact investments and to receive periodic investment reports with accurate valuations so they can track progress and make informed decisions about their investments.  Allodium also recommended a diversified and professionally-managed portfolio of illiquid high impact investments to provide some additional risk management to minimize the risk of loss.

Summary

Socially responsible investing is becoming main stream and practical.  This is clearly a burgeoning field and the future of investing will incorporate the ideas being developed by leading socially responsible investors.  Leaders in the nonprofit community like Sundance are leading with their actions.  You can also pursue investment strategies that are in alignment with your core values.  You just need to take the first step.

Nancy Jacobs is the co-founder and President of the Sundance Family Foundation which supports family stability both globally and locally, as well as projects that encourage youth social entrepreneurship.

The Sundance Family Foundation is harnessing and deploying 90% their capital into Socially Responsible Impact Investing strategies that do good for more.

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Manufacturing Careers and Summer Opportunities for Youth

 

Making Wonder in Manufacturing: Sundance tour of Fab Lab and Manufacturers

A combined effort by a number of partners launched the first Sundance Manufacturing Tour for program managers in youth-serving agencies. Quite often, nonprofit managers have had little opportunity to see manufacturing. As a result, they are not able to refer youth towards this career path.  However, all that changed when on March 24, 2016 managers and youth got to be “Willie Wonkas” in factories of wonder for a morning.

Herold Precision Manufacturing (sheet metal fabricators) www.heroldprecision.com in White Bear Lake was our first stop. Pat Herold explained how he and his brothers grew up in the business that now employs more than 100+ people. Small groups of managers and youth toured the manufacturing floor, and were amazed by the myriad of fun things to do with turrets, lasers and press brakes.  “I can see myself working here,” stated one of the youth. Jim said that they are willing to hire anyone who is willing to work. They hire engineers and workers who can advance through the training provided right in the shop.  Go to http://www.heroldprecision.com/contact-us/employment Jim says that they will hire workers who may have had a few mistakes in their lives. They are eager to give workers a second chance. Next stop was the MME Group www.mmegroupinc.com where we met Brian Bussmann and his crew.  MME employs 90+ workers. MME is a box build contract manufacturer with an automated assembly, clean room sterilization services, inventory management, and logistics. MME Group specialized in highly regulated medical device production. Program managers got to see quality control, plastics welding, and devices as small as drop of water. They talked with employees on the floor about their jobs, how long they had been there and what they liked most. Employees were pretty unanimous that they liked working in small teams, and that their assignments changed from week to week. No one was bored. MME Group also hires everyone from youth out of high school to trained engineers. MME Group is seeking tool and dye operators. http://www.mmegroupinc.com/#contactus

Lunch was at Century college with a presentation by Kim Johnson kim.johnson@century.edu  about their new Manufacturing Certificate Program this summer. For about $500 this 6-week course provides 4 certificates which will allow students to enter manufacturing at a higher level. More information coming.

A tour through the Century College Prosthetics and Orthotics by AdonessTurner adoness.turner@century.edu with the HOPE Careers Consortium showed managers and youth a variety of positions as Fitter Technicians, Orthotic and Prosthetic Technicians,  Practitioners and Assistants and a pathway leading to Concordia College. These technicians bring a better quality of life to those living with disabling conditions of the limbs, spine, and partial or complete limb loss. The field is growing, and salaries are very attractive.

The final stop was Century College’s new FabLab (Digital Fabrication Laboratory), a center to explore 21st Century Skills in a “hi-tech tinkers” workshop for inventors and people who have a need to design, prototype and build things. Managers and Youth got to see projects being developed using laser engraving, vinyl sheet cutting, a 3D powder-based rapid prototyping machine and a ShopBot (4’ x 8’ CNC Router).

Everyone came away with a sense of wonder and awe, and new possibilities regarding careers for youth. Our sincere thanks to Ling Becker lingbecker@vhedc.com  from Vadnais Heights Community Economic Development, Jill Greenhalgh Century Foundation Director jill.greenhalgh@century.edu

Results of this tour include: a connection between Urban Boat Builders, Herold and the FabLab to make certain parts, and to bring youth to the shop floor and to the FabLab. Several of the youth are inspiring their peers to think about entering these programs at Century. And all program managers realized more profoundly, that linking their successful programs to actual work opportunities for youth makes sense.

Urban Ag Lab Open House and Spark-Y Summer Internship

Spark-Y empowers youth through hands-on education rooted in sustainability and entrepreneurship. The Spark-Y program exists in 12 area high schools. The Spark-Y enterprise is located at 4432 Chicago Ave. S. Minneapolis. www.spark-y.org

Additionally, Spark-Y is looking for self-directed and reliable members of the community to apply for their summer intern position. If there are youth that are interested in the urban agriculture movement, entrepreneurship, and vermicomposting (composting with worms) and other innovative urban farming tech, please click HERE for more information, and click HERE to apply.

*Aquaponics is the field of growing organic greens and produce in water vs. soil, utilizing nitrogen deposited in water by fish, to feed and grow the plants.

Save The Date
Sundance Family Foundation will hold an exhibit of the YSE Wunderkammer @ the Northeast Metro Expo

More info to come

Salesforce Nonprofit User Group Meeting 4/6/16

In an effort to aid any YSE Collaborative member  transitioning to the CRM platform, Salesforce, or to help answer any questions you might have as an established user, please consider attending this local, nonprofit user group. We meet from 8:30 am to 10:30 am at Open Book Literary Loft (parking in rear).

Attendees of the group identify as either “in need of help” or “can provide help” by wearing the appropriate sticker. You are encouraged to come with any questions you have or problems you are facing. If you simply have a design idea or a desired outcome but don’t know how to produce it, that is also a perfect reason to attend.  Attendance is free, and so are  answers to your questions!

Please click HERE to RSVP or follow this link:

http://www.eventbrite.com/e/april-2016-nonprofit-twin-cities-salesforce-working-session-tickets-22660316617

We’re going to Summit Academy; Wanna Come?

In an effort to learn more about Summit Academy and the affordable vocational programs they offer, the Sundance Family Foundation is taking a tour of their campus and programs. You are invited to join us. http://www.saoic.org/training-options/

This is an informal tour. It will run less than 90 minutes. We will experience the general information session and take a quick tour. It is our hope that this tour will help develop better points of connection between Summit and the YSE field, and meet people that can best direct youth to and through practical certificate programs that quickly lead to livable wage jobs.

If you are free that morning, interested in joining us, or just in the neighborhood and want to treat yourself to a 90 minute stroll, please consider joining us.

There is no need to RSVP. We will meet at the 935 door of the Summit campus (connected to the parking lot) at 9:50 am and head in shortly after for the 10 am meeting.

935 Olson Memorial Hwy, Minneapolis, MN 55405
Ask for  and join the information session in case of late arrival

 

Free EMS Training to Increase Diversity in MPLS Services

From April 1st to the 18th, the Minneapolis Fire Department will be taking applications  for selection in a free Emergency Medical Service certification. Applicants must be 18 to 30 years old, meet a household income guide, and a few other requirements. For more information everyone is welcome to attend an information session. Click HERE for a schedule of informational meetings, and click HERE to apply.

Follow this link for more information

http://www.minneapolismn.gov/news/WCMSP-175398

Building Our Alliances Together

Don’t have anything to do for spring break? Well, we have something for you! We at Urban Boat builders are hosting a kayak build for five days at our workshop that is located off the greenline Raymond Avenue Station. You will be given a $100 gift card at the end for your participation. Within those five days not only are we building a kayak but we will also be doing workshops that are based on LGBTQIA+, Racial Equality, and Immigration barriers.We are looking for youth participants from the age of 14 – 20 who are interested in learning more about their communities and expanding their knowledge on these three main points.

2288 University Avenue West
St. Paul, MN 55114
April 4 – 8, 2016
9 am – 2 pm OR 11:30 am – 4:30 pm
April 9: Boat Launch 12 – 3 pm

Apply At: http://goo.gl/forms/oWgqh7bZnP

Contact Urban Boat builders at:
Office: 651-644-9225
Cellphone: 651-399-0386
Email: maila@urban

 

NORTH@WORK

Northside Funders Group has launched a bold North@Work initiative to provide skilled vocational training, personal and situational support, and career placement with cultivated partners, for 2000 black men in North Minneapolis.

This innovation directly engages the rampant unemployment experienced on the Northside, and is offering a real solution to a drastic problem.

Participants will be selected from referrals from friends, churches or other trusted networks.

For more information in the program, please click HERE

Sundance Production Sewing Tour With Sisterhood and Dunwoody

Commercial Sewing is a growing field offering a variety of opportunities. The job spectrum ranges from traditional “9-5” factory settings under 21st Century conditions to independent contractors setting their own hours. There are even coalitions of trained sewers that collectively bid on one-time industrial orders (custom bags, industrial tarps, etc.) with the work (and profits) split among members. The industry makes everything from blouses to tents, and works with heavy canvas or leather to the lightest silks. Industrial sewers can find themselves putting together cushions for inexpensive patio furniture, wedding gowns, or high-end hand bags.

The industry is growing, and looking for workers.

Later this month, youth from Pillsbury United Communities, principally from the Sisterhood Boutique and other YSE organizations, will be touring the Industrial Sewing Program at Dunwoody, followed by a local industrial sewing facility. This is a part of the Sundance Family Foundation/YSE Wunderkammer Initiative, to foster a sense of wonder and curiosity in youth as they explore traditionally dismissed vocations that are growing in opportunity and security.http://www.dunwoody.edu/pdfs/WTCE-Sewing-Production-Specialist.pdf

Free Summer Camp -Grades 8 to 12 at the

Digital Fabrication
And Manufacturing Laboratory at Century

 Youth in grades 8 to 12 are invited to attend these free 3-D Digital Fabrication Workshops at Century College’s 3-Day Production Summer Camps. You can follow this link for more information, or for registration go to:

https://www.century.edu/digital-fabrication-workshop

Summit Academy

Program Information Session
Every Wednesday
10 – 11 am

 

YNPN Scholarships for Career Development: YNPN-TC provides scholarships for members to attend career development events hosted by MCN, MAP for Nonprofits, AFP, and MACC Commonwealth. To be notified of scholarship opportunities, become a member of YNPN.

Century CollegeInformation Sessions

East Campus session focus on Technical Programs, West Campus session focus on general educational options

Tuesday, April 5East Campus, Rm 2271

1 – 2:30 pm or 5 – 6 pm

Thursday, April 21

East Campus, Rm 2271

1 – 2:30 pm

Tuesday, May 3

West Campus, Rm 2290

1 -2 pm or 5 – 6 pm

St. Paul College Open House and Power of YOU!
Information Session
Wednesday, April 13

5 – 7 pm

 

Consumer Financial Education Grants: The Rose Foundation will fund nonprofits that work to educate individuals on financial management through coaching, group training, and research. Applicants can request up to $100,000 in funding. Applications are due on April 8.

Salesforce.org Set UP

Salesforce.org Free Subscription Guide

Whether for a database, donor or grant tracking, recording sales, or reporting to boards, Salesforce.com is a platform that your nonprofit can benefit from The Power of Us program gives nonprofit organizations 10 Free Licenses and deep discounts on additional licenses, products and/or services from Salesforce.

Please note, although Salesforce may greatly benefit your organization, some…if not a great deal of set-up may be required to tailor this platform to meet your organization’s specific needs. Please consider connecting with partnering nonprofits that use Salesforce and/or free local Salesforce user groups, for direction and assistance with your Salesforce concerns, before paying an outside agency to design your Salesforce platform.

Paying a Salesforce consultant may be necessary in some instances, but there are chat forums and in-person user groups that may serve just as well—or help you define your questions and desired outcomes before you enter into a paid Salesforce consulting partnership.

Please click the link below to download the Sundance Family Foundation Manual

How to Get 10 Free Licenses for Nonprofits from Salesforce.org

Evidencing YSE

Sundance Family Foundation & Wilder Research

Evidencing YSE

Developing Preliminary Evidence-Based Research with Youth Serving Organizations in the Greater Twin Cities Metro Area

February 12, 2016–The Sundance Family Foundation and Wilder Research are launching a 24-month project to develop the capacity of thirteen youth-serving organizations working with underrepresented and low-income youth in the greater Twin Cities metropolitan area. These organizations offer Youth Social Entrepreneurship (YSE) programs that combine personal and business skills, youth social and emotional learning, and community leadership opportunities. They provide key supports that help youth age 16-24 learn the soft and hard skills needed to get a livable wage job in manufacturing, trades and technology.

Over the past seven years, Sundance has been supporting non-profit enterprises that identify innovative YSE approaches and guide youth to take their place in the economic growth of low-income neighborhoods. “We believe that these promising programs work to ‘put poverty out of business,’” states Sundance Family Foundation Co-founder/President, Nancy Jacobs.

Wilder Research has a long history of enhancing the research capacity of nonprofits, by providing contracted external analysis and reporting. Wilder’s teams of scientific researchers work with organizations of all sizes at the local, state, and national level to help them bring about needed change, increase their effectiveness, and demonstrate the value of what they do.

The Need for Research and Expanded Funding for YSE

The emerging field of Youth Social Entrepreneurship is not yet well defined or adequately funded even though more than 90% of identified Youth Social Entrepreneurship programs around the country specifically target low-income or otherwise marginalized youth.

Successful YSE programs often struggle to receive funding from local and national foundations and government units because their multidimensional programs nested in thriving enterprises are complex. In the best of these programs, youth are not only working at their jobs, but are also engaging in the community and acquiring a gamut of social and emotional skills. These programs allow youth to think expansively and creatively design very bright futures for themselves.

Advancing the Field Through Research

Without providing preliminary evidence based, and longitudinal research, it is hard to prove that YSE programs are indeed the innovative social solutions that improve lives, strengthen communities, foster civic engagement, service and volunteering, and eliminate disparities facing communities and their youth. This project will make evidencing success possible.

The Evidencing YSE collaboration with Wilder supports thirteen youth serving organizations as they enhance their internal data, analysis and reporting systems. The cohort includes: Appetite for Change, Cookie Cart, Cycles for Change, Dream of Wild Health, Elpis Enterprises, Emerge Community Development (EMERGE), Genesys Works–Twin Cities, Juxtaposition Arts, Keystone Community Services, Lakes Area Youth Service Bureau, Pillsbury United Communities, St. Paul Youth Services, and Urban Roots.

According to Darryl Lindsey, Director of Operations at Appetite for Change, “We are always guarded about letting people outside of our community research us–they have been doing it far too long. We are pleased to be a part of a project which will ultimately give us the capacity to generate our own data, and prove that our community engagement strategies are effective.”

The project, in this early stage, is being launched by the Sundance Family Foundation, Dorsey & Whitney Law LLC, Dorsey & Whitney Trust, Jacobs Investments, Metta Financial LLC, and several Anonymous Donors with other funders coming in at various stages of development.

Contact info@sundancefamilyfoundation.org for more information, or visit www.sundancefamilyfoundation.org Copies of a white paper describing YSE are available at www.sundancefamilyfoundation.org/YSE-toolkit/yse-white-paper

###

Wunderkammers as Fair Technology

Wunderkammer as Fair Technology

The problem with Job and Post Secondary Training Fairs is that, at times, they are not fair.  When this occurs  the unfortunate imbalance of power  never tips toward the youth, and inadvertently both vendor and youth walk away uninspired. Often, the company’s or school’s vendor expect the inquiring young person to know something about the program, school or job, before ever speaking to the vendor. As well, the vendor may not be well versed about the particular needs, concerns, and possible barriers to opportunity access experienced by the youth. The youth’s life experience simply by default may not include familiarity with this traditional bridging format. Yet, this paradigm is the reality at career fairs and college recruitment events. The belief that every covered table has a welcoming and holistically engaging person behind it is not shared by many of the young people who are served through local youth development nonprofits. The idea that the youth can openly ask questions, or be vulnerable with their hopes and dreams is an assumption not warranted. The Sundance Family Foundation, with the help of community partners, offer an alternative to this traditional presentation.

Sundance Family Foundation hopes to drive change in the field of youth social entrepreneurship (YSE) using the Wunderkammer Initiative  bringing  to life curiosity, discovery, enthusiasm, hope and dreams, with changes we and community leaders are making to Tech & Training Fairs. Designed to holistically engage low income youth with tantalizing opportunities to explore career avenues, we are embarking on the Wunderkammer Initiative as a Bridge and Pipeline strategy to success. Both expo vendors, and youth and their families, would collaboratively engage in opportunities that lead youth and families to embrace passion about previously unexplored career paths,  leading to livable wage jobs and enriched lives.

The Wunderkammer or (also called a Cabinet of Curiosities), was the BuzzFeed of the Renaissance. With the expansion of Empire, and the so-called discovery of new people, plants, and animal life, the desire to collect and display this finds was rampent. The Wunderkammer, was often an entire room filled with specimens appropriated from various trade and exploration endeavors. These rooms would often have large glass cases filled with the stuffed remains of an animal never seen before in Europe, and then have several smaller glass cases or jars stacked on top of it—each with more collected samples. Tools, clothing, bones, maps, dried flowers and berries; all these and more would be littered throughout a room.

The Wunderkammer was an important change from how knowledge was previously perceived. Before, “to have” knowledge of something, you would have to experienced it first-hand, or been instructed on it at a university. If something didn’t fit in the generally accepted model of the world (usually one started by Aristotle, and sanctioned by the Church) it was completely dismissed. However, the Wunderkammer positioned thinkers to challenged these previous assumptions of how the world works. Instead of just reading something in a book or hearing about it in a lecture, the object of study was right in front of the student for personal examination. In this relationship, it doesn’t matter if an old book or teach says something isn’t possible because the proof that it is possible is only a thin pane of glass away.

Just as important as the Wunderkammer’s  effect to push back on previous beliefs of limitations was its capacity to create beliefs that expanded these limitations. They had the effect of causing the observer to ask, “If this is true then what else is possible?” A building of “wonder on wonder” that seems rather natural.

Another unique aspect of the Wunderkammer, compared to other forms of knowledge dissemination like the book or the lecture, is that it demands an active and personalized engagement. There was no predetermined beginning, middle, or end like book. It started when they entered the room, as opposed to a play or lecture, and what they saw first would influence the meaning of the thing they saw next. The observer was left to explore the presentation on their own. They had to move about the room to get the best vantage point for different displays. Items were collected because of their potential interest to the observer and the collector, not to principly complete a set in an established order. Often, an order to what was seen was created in the mind of the viewer based more on the order of when and how it was seen. A person would not simply see a Wunderkammer, but have to experience it. They were allowed to explore the space. “To inspire wonder, by concentrating and containing the rare and the strange, was the original aim of this early modern institution”, and it is the aim of the Sundance Family Foundation to do the same, and more.

The Wunderkammer model at the Tech & Training Expos will not simply be a table with pamphlets, but a space created by representatives from local manufacturers, area colleges, and assistance programs, that invite the expo attendances to hands-on, interactive experience in a visually attractive setting. This is not a table with pictures of a robotics program, but a working example of a robot that young people can try for themselves. The thinking behind this is two fold. Firstly, as stated above, there is a proven historical example of this form as a vehicle for change in thinking. Secondly (and perhaps more importantly) no amount of kind words or free t-shirts or the like, can build the trust needed for traumatically underserved youth to feel like they are welcomed in a vocational field. Especially if they don’t feel welcomed at a table.  

This is a youth focused project, with an emphasis on building relationships that will begin with a concentration on adult presenters. Young people will know they are welcomed, when they are welcomed to do something. To take part in, and be a part of. At the Wunderkammer, youth will be welcomed to explore, touch, try, see, and question in a safe environment. The most important part of welcoming someone is not the welcomer thinking they are adequately welcoming, but the person being welcome feeling they are welcomed. This change however, is not a one-way street. We envision our invited presenter to participate in this change…and benefit from the experience as well.

Often in these situations, the most well intentioned presenter can fall into the traps that perpetuate racist conditions. If they are professional presenters, or if job fair-like activities make up the majority of their work calendar, they might fall into a rut of boredom and passivity. Every person looks the same, they all ask, or don’t ask the same questions–over and over. Or perhaps the presenter is not specifically trained to present, or more importantly, present to low-income youth or people of color. Should each presenter go through dozens of hours of racial sensitivity training, or make personal commitments to advocate for diversity and inclusion in both their personal and professional lives? Well, yes! These things cannot hurt, and their lives would be so much richer for it. However, we cannot expect this, nor should be attempt to manage this. Barring occupational therapy, or in-depth diversity seminars, we at Sundance Family Foundation feel that the Wunderkammer will help to create and nurture the pivotal relationship between youth and access to opportunities.

This is not just our belief. We have found a practice need for a structuring vision–beyond simple principles.

At our first Tech and Training Expo, we spent a lot of time and effort crafting a description of the physical and social presentation for our presenters. We asked that people of color represent their institution when possible. We gave guides on how to use the space differently. We talked about who their audience would be and how it might be different than other outreach efforts. Most importantly, we were explicit on two conditions: the display/presentation offer a practical, generally achievable opportunities for youth; and  engaging, interactive displays. We found few did both, some did one but not the other, and many didn’t do either.

The problem was not that we didn’t share ideas with our presenters, or that just should have made them more clear. The problem was one of “buy in.” We let the presenters know what we wanted to see, but what we didn’t do is let them know how it would benefit them. We didn’t help the institution see that this was a chance to present their programs in a fresh and exciting way to a new audience. More importantly, however, we didn’t guide these experts to understand these expos are an opportunity to share their passions with someone eager to learn. We didn’t let them on the floor without properly vetting them, and helping them to see that their knowledge and experience can completely alter the lives of the young people in attendance, and their families.

This ‘buy in” has more than one level to it. The presenter will have to see this presentation as something they will personally benefit from, as well as understand they are helping others. They will have to understand the heavy weight just their being there creates, and act accordingly. They have to make a commitment to being a presence for change. If seemingly obvious questions are asked for instance, they have to assume this is because the youth are interested in knowing the more, rather than being a “smart alec.” If the youth are speaking slang, or with a more the quite demeanor, the presenter has to make the assumption the youth are comfortable with them. The reverse is also true, but for different reasons. If a young person is quieter than the presenter is used to, the assumption has to be that the person is trying to be respectful. These expos have to be seen as a chance to share something they love, with people that would not normally get the chance to enjoy this thing.

Another level this “buy in” operates on is to make the environment. The presenters have to see themselves as part of the scenery of the expo. Kids are smart. They pick up so much more than we think they do. If a presenter is curt or dismissive of a young person, it is our belief that everyone in the surrounding area picks up on this. The creation of a safe space for youth to ask questions and dream big is stifled. Fancy toys are not enough. The change we envision in this proposed space will not be lasting if it is tarnished by behaviors of cultural supremacy.

This is really an all or nothing staffing policy, but it should not be an aggressive one. This means that we will have to find and foster individual relationships with institutions we identify as having effective/beneficial programs, but that some of these relationship just won’t work out. However as few bridges should be burned as possible. If a presenter did not work out, they should be kept in the loop so that they can see how successful the expo was, and that they are welcome to participate–but with further discussions on how they can best serve the expo’s audience.

It has to be mentioned that this concept, like so many from the past, is connected to oppressive ideas such as imperialism colonialism, and racism. The Wunderkammer housed very few original discoveries. Certainly, none of the cultural artifacts that were taken from non-industrial peoples, were only then “discovered.” These were things that were long known by groups around the world. There is a cultural promotion that knowledge can be embodied, and that certain bodies can be controlled or displayed for the purposes of entertainment. It reifies the ideas of that only certain types of knowledge, and only certain types of people matter. We plan to flip this on its head. This Wunderkammer holds knowledge that does not belong in a glass containers, but rather is for any color hand to hold (and play with, and fiddle about). This Cabinet of Curiosities is not a place of privilege and exclusion but a chance for personal and communal. A space where everyone involved gets the opportunity to grow in a way they may need to grow.

We have already started working with partners in college programs, and are beginning connect with manufacturers directly. We are confident that next Tech & Training Expo (scheduled for spring) will reflect these changes. We are hoping you will join us, and invite the young people you serve to do the same.  

We are hoping to take a risky and revolutionary step, not by fighting or defending, but by hosting. The Tech & Training Expos of 2016 with be spaces in which young people are invited to stretch their wonder muscles, and presenters will be empowered to share aspect of their passions. They will both be in a space to do so.

FREE TWO-YEAR COLLEGE TUITION – POWER OF YOU!

College is expensive, and the decision to go to college is not a small one. However, there is a way to get an associate’s degree for $0 in tuition cost, and a bachelor’s degree for only $15k, though the Power of YOU program and the Two + Two Scholarship at Augsburg.

Describing the Power of YOU program, the Minneapolis Community and Technical College’s website says it:
…is a program that makes college available tuition-free. Power of You funding covers the cost of tuition and fees after your state and federal grants are applied for two years or up to 72 credits at Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) and Saint Paul College. POY funds do not pay for books and transportation costs. The Power of YOU supports as many students as possible based on student need and funds available for the programSaint_Paul_College_logo

MCTC_logoIn a nutshell, nearly every senior that will graduate in May this year, from an approved area high school, is able to attend a one of two fantastic community colleges with no tuition.

The program does not cover books and transportation, but there is also the cost to the student’s social and emotional life. But what makes this program so powerful is the way the recognize these hidden cost to college success. PoY students participate in cohort workshops that build skills in communicating with professors, navigating the school’s computer system, etc. These workshop are for PoY students only, and the administrators try to foster a brave space in which the youth can ask foundational questions which might be embarrassing in other spaces.

Another innovation in student connection is the PoY approach to student advising. Every PoY student in assigned an College advisor. These advisors work solely with the PoY student base. There are regular student-advisor meetings scheduled throughout the semester, and the advisors are available for scheduled appointments. However, a MCTC, to foster less formal relationship (a feeling of greater support and trust), the advisor spend time in the PoY Lounge. This space is available only to PoY students. It has computers and quiet spaces not available to the general student body. The PoY students are able to see their advisors outside the advisor’s office, sharing the same space as the student. In this environment, it is often easier to ask the simple questions that would be missed in scheduled sit-down appointments. The simple, “how do you turn this in?” or “I can’t figure out that” sort of questions can be brought up by naturally popping into conversation. Many of these small moments can build the trust needed for larger ones. The student is better positioned to asked questions about fears and hopes–honest sharing of goals.

PoY has a refreshing community engagement practice. PoY students are required to participate in 20 hours of community service each semester they are in the program. Often, they are directed to volunteer with organizations they have a personal or potential professional interest in. However, if the young person just wants to get their hours done, there are a number of fun and enriching way to fill their volunteer requirement right at the school. MCTC always needs help in their community and outreach events. This more casual option in important to students that might have transportation issues, or need more time to focus on their studies or tutoring. They are still learning by giving back, but it is not taking away from their more traditional learning.

After completing the PoY program, the student can be eligible for the Two + Two Scholarship at Augsburg College. This is a VERY restrictive course study, but, for the right student, it is an incredible opportunity.

To be eligible for this second program, the PoY student has to follow the “Auggie Plan” in their course work. This strict two-year class schedule has to be work out with a PoY advisor (who is in communication with the office of admissions at Augsburg) soon after acceptance to the PoY program. The Auggie Plan involves classes at MCTC that will fill Augsburg graduation requirements. Another drawback to this route is it often does not allow for any remedial classes. Auggie plan candidates would be expected to enter the PoY program at a college level.

The Auggie Plan allows for the awarding of the Two + Two Scholarship, which requires the then PoY grad to take out a $15,000 loan for tuition, over two years ($7500 a year), with the rest of the tuition costs covered by the institution and grants through FAFSA. $15,000 is still a lot of money, but it’s smaller than $35,000 or the average student debt from the class of 2015 (a number is only raising), and $139200 (the current cost of four years at Augsburg).

This four year option (or college in general) is not for everyone, it is only one of many opportunities for personal development, and is not the only path to find a fulfilling life.

Additionally, it must be noted that if a student is completing a GED this year (even with their original class) they are not eligible for the Power of YOU program. Also, if a young person has spent some time after graduation working or enjoying life, they are also not eligible for this program. In order to be eligible for the program, you must graduate or have been a student the same year as your fall enrollment. (i.e., graduate spring 2016, start MCTC fall 2016).

The window of opportunity for the student is small, and the line for available fund is filling up. If you know of a young person that would be a potential candidate (Eligibility Requirements HERE), please direct them to this opportunity. MCTC offers FAFSA workshops, Information Sessions, and the Advisors are happy to help with the young people and their families with the application process.

Please visit these sites for more information:

St. Paul Power of YOU!
St Paul Application
MCTC Power of YOU!
MCTC Application

YSE Tech and Training Expo at Youthprise Summit

images-1Sundance Family Foundation is hosting the Tech and Training Expo at the Youthprise Summit on October 15, 2015 at the Mn History Center. Interactive exhibits at Tech and Training Expo will feature post-secondary schools and trade programs in prosthetics, robotics, welding, filmmaking and commercial sewing that appeal to YSE youth looking for accessible 21st Century career paths. Info on scholarships, apprenticeships and 100% job placement will be provided. Registration for this event is now closed.

cocoandbreezyCoco & Breezy, Twins from Apple Valley who went to New York City to launch their eyewear and wearables fashion lines will be featured at the Youthprise Youth Summit October 15, 2013 at the MN History Center.

Manufacturing Month (see schedule here) in October is filled with opportunities to take groups of students from your YSE programs to various plants in the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota Area. Here is an inspirational film: find out more. To apply for funds which can be used to cover transportation costs to manufacturing plants please contact Jamiee Meyer of Dream It, Do It. at 218 755 2206

Blue|1647 will be supporting a Hackathon at the Science Museum on October 16th-17th. This event provides urban youth in grades 7th-12th a chance to participate in building a prototype APP to resolve a community problem. No programming experience is needed, but this is a 24-hour commitment. Contact Paul Kramer at Sundance.

Sundance welcomes the New Sector Fellow Paul Kramer to Sundance. A recent graduate from University of Minnesota Paul is looking forward to learn how to create spaces that support the lives and stories of this community.