The mission of the Sundance Family Foundation is to accelerate youth development and strengthen family stability.

Sundance has had a strong interest in Youth Social Entrepreneurship (YSE) programs—defined as youth-centric, youth-led nonprofit enterprises that include community engagement, social-emotional learning (SEL), and workforce readiness. About 50+ YSE programs currently operate in the greater Twin Cities metro area. Youth are learning social and emotional skills, and community engagement along with 21st Century workforce skills that will lead to their prosperity and independence.

Yet, youth living in low income areas, and youth in communities of color are facing 16-23% unemployment while the average unemployment in Minnesota is 3.2%.

It is now time to focus on creating Earn & Learn pathways. We must no help create a youth focused workforce development strategy that brings all of our youth into exciting careers and livable wages that can both support their families and help them thrive.

Sundance celebrates the 85 Honorees who are currently earning and learning with 65 Community Champions: employers who are hiring new employees at livable wages and paying for their training as they acquire Nationally recognized certificates and degrees. This effort takes a village, one that is being created by many visionary partners.

1. Building Data Capacity: Completed a 36-month project with Wilder Research, Evidencing that a model that supports personal agency, builds social capital and workforce readiness skills can be effectively used in many types of organizations.  Of the 16 YSE enterprises that started, 12 completed building or retooling their internal data capacity, adopting common indicators, and analyzing continuous program improvement and student skills development. Cohort members developed logic models, evaluation plans, installed or refined  databases, and collect verifiable data. As a result of this work, cohort members have the data to gain access to state and federal dollars that they were not able to access. MN DEED awarded 7 of these YSE cohort members a total of $1,500,000.

2. Bridges and Pipelines: Sundance is helping YSE organizations track their alumni, and ensure that these students find meaningful career paths.

3. Innovative Supports: Sundance is working with scores of government agency and industry representatives who are helping youth navigate and retain employment or early entrepreneurial ventures through assistance with mentorships apprenticeships and needed supports.

4. Communicating Bold Innovations: Starting in 2016 Sundance began convening teams of manufacturers, trades, journey, and union representatives with community and academic leaders to build new networks. Because high school student to counselor ratios are 800:1, mentor-rich YSE nonprofit training enterprises are rapidly becoming the places to find entry-level ready youth. Networks to convey opportunities for youth to mover from nonprofit youth development programs to  manufacturers, business, trades and industry are a passion.

5. Wunderkammers: Community Tech and Training Exploratoriums, have been providing unique hands-on career exploration for youth. Wunderkammers were produced in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Vadnais Heights, and Maplewood. Partners included the Vadnais Heights Economic Development Council, the City of Minneapolis, the City of Maplewood, Ramsey and Hennepin Counties, DEED, DLI, St. Paul, Minneapolis, Century, and Dunwoody Colleges and dozens of manufacturers, industry and civic leaders to produce  Wunderkammers. Youth engaged with technician in the private and governmental sectors which a focus on jobs available in governments and cities.

Sundance is changing its grantmaking process and dates:

Click HERE for Further Details on Our Application Page

Grants requests are not accepted for International Projects.

Contact Information

Phone: (612) 822-8580


Sundance Family Foundation
944 Grand Ave
St. Paul, MN 55105


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Youth Social Entrepreneurship: Advancing the Field

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