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 time to focus on creating Earn&Learn pathways. We must now 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 YSE, 16 YSE enterprises started, 12 completed building or retooling their internal data capacity, creating indicators, and analyzing both continuous improvement and student skills development. Cohort members created or refined logic models, evaluation plans, installed or refined  databases, and collect verifiable data. Members are initiating longitudinal studies to track the success of their alums 20161013_091842moving into the workforce or training. As a result of this work, cohort members have the ability to gain access to new state and federal dollars. MN DEED awarded 7 of these YSE cohort members a total of $1,500,000. The Aggregate Evidence Based Study of 433 youth demonstrates that using the YSE Workforce readiness model produces measurable increases in youth personal agency, social capital and workforce readiness skills.

2. Bridges and Pipelines: 200 YSE youth, parents, and managers have toured manufacturing, business, raining, and technical college sites. Twenty-four manufacturing owners, industry, labor and government representatives have toured 10 nonprofit enterprises. 

3. Innovative Supports: Sundance is working with scores of government agency and industry representatives who are planning transportation, mentorships and apprenticeships and support to provide coordinated and systemic support to new  workforce participants.

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 of support. 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 youth. Networks to convey opportunities for youth placement between nonprofits, manufacturers, business, trades and industry are being developed using social media, Internet videos, and convenings.

5. Wunderkammers: Community Tech and Training Exploratoriums, providing hands-on career exploration and work with local technicians was piloted at the Vadnais Heights Community Fair. Five Wunderkammers were produced in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Vadnais Heights, and Maplewood. In 2018, Sundance has partnered with Vadnais Heights Economic Development Council, the City of Minneapolis, the City of Maplewood, St. Paul, Century, and Dunwoody Colleges and dozens of manufacturers, industry and civic leaders to produce public sector Wunderkammers featuring 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 being 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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