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

Sundance has 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.

By advancing the field of YSE, Sundance Family Foundation drives the changes that enable the economic and personal transformation of youth, their families, and their communities. Youth are learning social and emotional skills, and community engagement along with 21st Century workforce skills that will lead to their prosperity and independence.

Sundance implements the following five strategies to develop the field of YSE.

1. Building Data Capacity: Launching a 24-month project with Wilder Research, Evidencing YSE, 16 YSE enterprises have started building or retooling their internal data capacity, creating indicators, and analyzing both continuous improvement and student skills development. Cohort members created or refined 16 logic models, 16 evaluation plans, installed or refined 16 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 initial work, cohort members are positioned to gain access to new state and federal dollars. MN DEED awarded 7 of these YSE cohort members a total of $1,000,000 in 2016 and 2017. The Aggregate Evidence Based Study of 433 youth shows that using the YSE Workforce readiness model produces change. The current comprehensive study will be completed and disseminated in March 2019.

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. New partnerships are building the pipelines and bridges between talented youth ready to move out of poverty to the 21st Century job opportunities and the training that awaits them. 

3. Innovative Supports: Sundance is working with sixty government agency and industry representatives who are planning transportation, mentorships and apprenticeships to provide early workforce 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 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. In 2017 four 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 these Wunderkammers.

The next grant deadline is June 9, 2020 

 Sundance supports YSE (Youth Social Entrepreneurship) grants. Applications will also be accepted for programs that focus on the prevention of homelessness for youth.  Further Details can be found by clicking the button below:

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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