Youth Training Wage Update

Youth Training Wage Update

by Peg Thomas

Executive Directors and Leaders of nonprofits and foundations have created a Youth Training Wage recommendation to Minneapolis and St. Paul. We believe in a sustainable wage for all, but also believe that the wage as currently implemented in Minneapolis has unintended consequences on youth training programs. These programs are designed to assist youth as they move from high school to gainful careers. Youth living in neighborhoods with multiple supports may not need these programs as much as youth living in areas that don’t provide these supports. Youth training programs typically provide strong social and emotional learning, community engagement, workforce development and agile thinking. Sundance has typically called these Youth Social Entrepreneurship (YSE) organizations.

Directors agree that we support a thoughtful increase in the employment wage and believe it will promote economic security and an increase in quality of life in our communities. We oppose any carve-outs or exemptions for nonprofits, social enterprises, and small businesses, as well as for youth in employment settings.

For youth in nonprofit training programs, however, we support a different, equally thoughtful youth training wage that is based on a percentage of the prevailing wage for full employment. Nonprofit youth training programs commonly serve youth ages 14-24 and focus a significant portion of paid time on building job readiness and social-emotional skills, especially in youth who are low income and face multiple barriers to employment.

There are approximately 50 nonprofit youth development programs that train more than 3,000 youth annually in the Twin Cities area under this “earn to learn” model. We believe that the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul should determine a youth training wage that makes sense for these programs. Without a youth training wage, nonprofit youth training programs are at risk. On average, they will see at least a 50% increase in youth wage costs under an ordinance such as the recently passed version in Minneapolis. A significant increase in costs will force an equally significant reduction in the number of youth served.

A narrow provision in the Minneapolis ordinance that provides for a 90-day training wage for youth training programs is insufficient because it does not recognize the developmental needs or environmental factors of teens employed by non-profit youth training programs. With the passage of the Minneapolis ordinance and with St. Paul considering its own sustainable wage ordinance, this is the time to develop a collaborative solution that enables our nonprofit youth training organizations to prepare youth for the 21st century workforce.

We support adoption of a thoughtful youth training wage for youth in nonprofit training programs, for at least 18 months. We also support review, refinement, and simplification of the criteria for nonprofits to qualify for the nonprofit youth training wage.

Please contact Peg Thomas at or Matt Halley at if you want your organization to be a part of this movement. We are hoping to amend the current ordinance in Minneapolis, and influence the ordinance scheduled for St. Paul in the fall of this year.

Changemaking – A Butterfly Effect

Changemaking – A Butterfly Effect 

by Kailyn Hill

In early February of 2018, the New York Times published an article about the idea of a changemaker. The man who coined the term, Bill Drayton, and started the idea of social entrepreneurship, discusses in the article the importance of a changemaker in our society, and how to instill this idea in the next generation. Drayton’s passions are very similar to the passions of Sundance Family Foundation, and why they started their mission of supporting youth development and strengthening family stability.

Google defines social entrepreneurship as “a person who establishes an enterprise with the aim of solving social problems or effecting social change.” Similarly, in the article Drayton defines a changemaker as someone who “can see the patterns around them, identify the problems in any situation, figure out ways to solve the problem, organize fluid teams, lead collective action and then continually adapt as situations change.” The core of these two ideas is problem solving, and how being a problem solver can open so many doors in someone’s life, and make a positive impact on society and in their own community.

There are no parameters set for who can be a changemaker, it can be anyone who desires to make a difference. This is an important value to Sundance Family Foundation, that there are no limits to who a person can become, no matter their background or upbringing. SFF strives to enable youth with the tools they need to be successful in their life, with a job they enjoy, while earning a good living. They endorse teaching the concept of entrepreneurship to young people, by route of using agile problem solving and entrepreneurial thinking in a job or apprenticeship. Employers want to hire problem-solvers, they want a workforce made up of changemakers, and as Drayton says in the article, “the challenge is to make everyone a changemaker. To do that, you start young.”

Think of the butterfly effect, where a minute change can have exponential impact elsewhere. Now think of a young girl, maybe in elementary school, who is taught to be a changemaker – to problem solve. As she grows up and interacts with countless people in her life, she will be a changemaker in everything she does, maybe teaching others to be changemakers themselves. Children are able to pick things up much more quickly than adults, in everything from language, to math, creativity, etc.

As workforce needs change with the advancement of technology, the approach to adulthood, education, and job training must also change and adapt in a way that will benefit the individual and the society. There are many people in this country that don’t feel equipped to take control of their lives and future, and instilling this confidence in young people is where Sundance Family Foundation truly has their heart. Working towards empowering and educating young people who may feel as though they are at a disadvantage when it comes to obtaining marketable skills, experiencing opportunities and network to advancement, no matter where they are located, whether it be urban, suburban, or rural. If we start teaching the younger generation to take charge of their own life and instill positive values and a yearning for positive impact, those young changemakers may eventually sit in the Oval Office or a senate seat.


The Sisterhood Boutique Celebrates Four Years of Empowering and Celebrating Young Women

The Sisterhood Boutique Celebrates Four Years of Empowering and Celebrating Young Women 

by Kailyn Hill

Four years ago, the Sisterhood Boutique opened its doors to the public and has been changing the lives of young women ever since, enabling them with useful business skills and preparing them for a better, more empowered future. As the Sisterhood Boutique approaches its fourth anniversary and third annual fashion show, their original goal of showing women what they can do on their own resonates even stronger today, as the idea of a sisterhood and the power and beauty of femininity is becoming increasingly prevalent in the media and everyday life.

On the homepage of the boutique’s website, it says, “The Sisterhood Boutique was developed by Kadra Fiqui and other East African women between the ages of 14 and 23 who reside in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis, and participate in the Brian Coyle Center Youth Entrepreneurship Program.” Not only does the boutique benefit the ladies who are a part of managing it, but it also provides affordable and stylish clothing to people in the community. The inventory varies as it is donation based, but regularly carries clothing with enough variety for women of all cultures to find something they love and can afford. Sisterhood recently expanded its inventory to include clothing for men as well.

The Sisterhood Boutique, located on a corner lot at 2200 Riverside Avenue, is a perfect example of the youth social entrepreneurship (YSE) programs that Sundance Family Foundation so passionately supports. Fiqui and her group of business minded East African friends gained inspiration and direction to launch their store after meeting Stella Richardson and other young women who developed a YSE start up clothing store in St. Paul called Express Youthself Clothing, a Keystone Community enterprise. Richardson, who is now part of the management team at Sisterhood Boutique, was instrumental in assisting with the boutique’s launch. Augsburg College School of Business, located across the street from the boutique, continues to provide management support, and Fairview Health Services donated the boutique’s coveted neighborhood corner lot space. Sisterhood Boutique provides opportunities to learn real-world skills regardless of background or upbringing, in the areas of entrepreneurial training, experiential learning, mentoring, job-shadowing, and leadership development activities.

The boutique offers three, 18-month internships that focus on entrepreneurship and business, college and career pathways, and civic engagement and leadership. There is a huge emphasis on one-on-one mentoring and relationship building with each intern. As each internship nears its end, they focus on creating a plan for each intern that incorporates their dreams and what they have learned to set them up for success in a future career. In four years, the boutique has gone from struggling to generate interest, to a waiting list for the internships with over 200 interns that have gone through the program.

Yasameen Sajady, the social enterprise manager at the Sisterhood Boutique said she is most proud of the summers there. They host Step-up internships throughout Minneapolis that allow them to “dive deeper into trainings, conversations and overall intern goals” said Sajady. They also offer sewing in the summer where the interns learn fundamentals and eventually more detailed parts of sewing clothing, in addition to delving more into civic engagement programs and conversations.

Youth social entrepreneurship programs like the one offered at The Sisterhood Boutique can be essential and are consequential for people from less represented communities. Programs in these local organizations not only have a positive impact on their communities they serve, but they also specifically reach out to youth who otherwise may not get to experience work readiness training, community engagement and life-skills development. Providing youth, especially minorities and women, with chances to learn real-life, marketable skills gives them an authentic opportunity to thrive in a good paying  21st century career. Sundance Family Foundation works tirelessly to find and support nonprofits that offer YSE related training programs. Sundance, in partnership with many community organizations, is also busy developing bridges and pipelines between older workforce ready YSE youth and employers eager to employ talented young adults. Busloads of youth and guardians along with YSE program directors are taken on tours to job sites, reverse tours are available for employers to visit YSE organizations in full swing, and experiential, wonder sparking job fairs called Wunderkammers are made available throughout the Twin Cities throughout the year.

The ladies of Sisterhood Boutique have been moving full-steam ahead in preparation for their Fashion Week that will culminate with the third annual fashion show. Preparing for the fashion show on March 20, 2018 at Augsburg  has meant working months in advance with partner organizations to ensure that fashions, accessories, work staff participants, entertainment, social media and marketing are ready to go. Sajady said mid-February “Last week a group of volunteers from the American Refugee Committee and Progressive North came in to paint the store, redesign our layout and offer advice to our interns about jobs, school and life in general.” The boutique then hosted an open house for members of the community to come enjoy some sweet treats and check out the new digs prior to the organized chaos of Fashion Week.

The third annual fashion show will also function as a fundraiser for the first time ever. Sajady said “We are trying to fund a photo studio to support e-commerce and also teach interns about photography, lighting and editing software.” There are events almost every day of Fashion Week leading up to the third annual fashion show. Not only will they be fun, but also affordable. Each event will be supporting great causes and the community. For more up-to-date details be sure to check out the Sisterhood Boutique Facebook page.

Fashion Week: March 12-20, 2018

Monday 3/12, 5-7pm: Pints 4 Pillsbury @ Surly Brewing

Tuesday 3/13, 5-7pm: Breakfast 4 Dinner @ Hi-Lo Diner

Wednesday 3/14, 5-7pm: $5 Spa Day @ Sisterhood Boutique

Thursday 3/15, 4-6pm: Open Mic Night @ Cedar Commons

Friday 3/16, 5-7pm: Alumni Karaoke Night @ Encore Karaoke

Tuesday 3/20, 6-8pm: 3rd Annual Fashion Show @ Augsburg University


January Wunderkammer Event Recap

January Wunderkammer Event Recap 

by Kailyn Hill

On Tuesday, January 30th, employers, training programs,  youth and guardians from the Twin Cities metro gathered in a sunlit room at the Minneapolis Workforce Center to participate in Sundance Family Foundation’s first Wunderkammer event of 2018. These tech and training exploratoriums are much more than an everyday job fair, with authentic and engaging connections and conversations happening all over the room throughout the day. Wunderkammer events are more inclusive and engaging job fairs, with a wider variety of fields represented. Skilled technician vendors are genuinely excited to be there and invite youth, guardians and program directors to experience activities that are representational of their work.

The event was an opportunity for youth to hear about potential jobs, trainings, internships, and apprenticeships that could lead to well-paying jobs in the future without needing to obtain a four-year degree. They learned that many of the jobs offer benefits, including health insurance and 401k plans, individual job security and opportunities for continued training, growth, and advancement. The idea behind a Wunderkammer is simple. It is an authentic and engaging learning experience between a technically trained vendor who is eager to share their knowledge with youth who are exploring opportunities for their future. A Wunderkammer is a curiosity shop, drawing youth into experiences to try out a new career activity, with the hope that this experience might ignite a natural wonder and passion for learning more about training and jobs in that particular field. “I’ve never seen a job fair like this.” said Derrell Mitchell, an intern at the Minneapolis Academy Career Center that runs out of 800 West Broadway, where the Wunderkammer event happened.

There are many well-paying career paths in the Twin Cities that go unnoticed for a myriad of reasons. Sundance is committed to steering the next generation of young adults toward the many options open to them. Wunderkammers are designed to bridge the gap between employers who have solid jobs available  to the talented workforce ready youth in need of living wage employment.  Many of the careers and training programs represented at the January 30th Wunderkammer event offered a specific plan for success for each employee. Colin Owens, a vendor from Emerge said,  “EMERGE offers a broad spectrum of services that include: Workforce Development trainings, Financial Wellness, Job Search and Resume Assistance, and MFIP Services. We partner with Medtronic to provide job opportunities to the communities we serve. In this partnership, we support interested jobseekers by preparing their resume, coaching them on applying for positions, and preparing them for their interview at Medtronic.” The need for new 21st century job careers in industries such as manufacturing, printing, mechatronics, IT and the health fields are high. These careers benefit individuals and families, employers, the community and the changing needs of our world.

Strolling through the January 30th Wunderkammer, hosted by Sundance Family Foundation, Hennepin County and the Minneapolis Workforce Training Center reminded one more of walking down the magical midway of a local county fair, rather than a traditional job fair. It was ablaze with vendors  brimming with excitement at the chance to speak with youth about opportunities available at their places of employment. Instead of pamphlet pushing across their tables, these technicians engaged with inquisitive career seekers through colorful, fun and manipulative activities that were representational of career-related jobs and tasks. Vendor conversations with youth were in-depth and effervescent. Unlike some job fairs, youth were as eager to speak with vendors as vendors were to engage with the youth.

Some of the vendor tables appeared to capture the hearts and interests of youth evoking a creative curiosity. Circuitry systems lit up, origami type boxes were assembled and made into towers displaying the concept of fractals used in engineering, and an impressive looking red and green lighted 3D printer   hummed away for hours. Tree Trust, a conservation enterprise designed for youth development and employment, provided those in attendance the opportunity to drill into boards while hearing about the importance of nature conservation and what it would be like to work in tree planting and conservation.

While youth were chatting with representatives from Andersen Corp about potential jobs in areas ranging from warehouse to window assembly, they were able to run their fingers through the brightly colored materials that go into making an acrylic window. One of the materials resembled hamster pellets, and is actually made from sawdust created at Andersen. Not only does Andersen care about providing employment opportunities, but they also place a large focus on being responsible when it comes to the environment.  Sundance Family Foundation is setting up a tour to the Andersen Corporation in March. Transportation will be made available. Youth, guardians and program directors are invited. Please contact Sundance Family Foundation at or 612.822.8580 for more information. You can also learn more about jobs with Andersen at

The consistent hum of energy and conversation in the room reminded one of observing a hive full of alert, busy honey bees, all working together to achieve their honey making goal. In this same way, the vendors were all working together to steer youth toward their impassioned young adult lives. Truly, the room was abuzz with a communal sense of comradery, safety, inclusivity, agency, and wanting to better the community by investing in the lives of the next generation.

One of the most unique parts of Wunderkammer events is that they often feature employers from fields that are typically not thought of when teens and young adults are approaching the working world. There are many industries that are forgotten due to unfounded stereotypes, but the reality is that many jobs in construction, automotives and manufacturing for example, are now technical and skills-based, providing exciting and worthwhile jobs, quite different from the manufacturing floors of days past.

An industry that is plagued with an aging workforce and few young hands to fill their roles is the printing industry, sometimes called graphic communications. Two representatives at the January Wunderkammer event were from Printing Industry Midwest (PIM) and Flexo Tech. While hearing about the industry, youth could look at a digital microscope that showed the details of what printed materials look like, made up entirely of small dots. A tenth grade participant was overheard saying, “This is awesome!” Working with a printing press involves understanding the mechanics and science behind achieving a good print and the training is invaluable in an industry where there is opportunity for quick advancement. The graphic communications industry is high-tech, highly-skilled, and high-paying. Learn more about it at

At the end of the day, hundreds of conversations were had, with endless valuable connections made across the industries and with youth in the Twin Cities who will soon be needing to decide on what to do with their lives. The Wunderkammer Tech and Training Exploratoriums are a wonderfully positive experience for young people, guardians, program directors, employers and post secondary training program directors. Wunderkammers give young people and their families a sense that the world is at their feet, and they can achieve the kind of life they desire. They leave employers and post secondary training program directors a positive sense that they are helping to open doors and shape the direction of the next generation.  The next Wunderkammer event will be held by the Vadnais Heights Economic Business Corporation and Sundance Family Foundation at the fun-filled, family-oriented NE Metro Community Business Expo on Sunday, April 29th from 11am-3pm.  It will be held at the Vadnais Heights Sports Complex You won’t want to miss it!


Here is a full list of the vendors from the January 30th Wunderkammer:

Appetite for Change,

AIOIC Training Center,

Andersen Corp,

BIX Produce,


Century College,

Electrical Association,


Flagship Recreation,


Greatbatch Medical,




Japs-Olson Printing,

KMS Air Duct Cleaning,

Miratec Systems,

Motor Club of America,


MN Department of Labor and Industry, Youth Division,

Printing Industry – Midwest (PIM),

South Central College,

Summit Academy OIC,

Tree Trust,



US Forestry Services,

Digerati, Inc./Work Fountain,



An Expanded Youth Training Wage for Minneapolis and St. Paul

This article explores why a Youth Training Wage, as part of the Sustainable Wage ordinance in Minneapolis might be limiting, and how changes to it can be proposed for St. Paul. The Youth Training Wage supports nonprofit Youth Social Entrepreneurship (YSE) programming that integrates social and emotional development, community engagement, workforce readiness, and provides on-ramps to post-secondary career paths that empower youth to both thrive, and become part of our vibrant community. Proposed changes include an increased training period for year round programs, and a less accelerated increase to the prevailing sustainable wage.

An Expanded Youth Training Wage for Minneapolis and St. Paul

By Kailyn Hill

Until recent years, Minnesota had one of the lowest minimum wage rates in the nation. To keep up with the increased cost of living, in August 2016, the Minnesota statewide minimum wage rate was raised to $7.87 for small employers (under 100 employees), and $9.50 for large employers. Minneapolis, in October 2017, approved a Sustainable Wage with accelerated paths to reach $15/hr by 2019 for large employers and 2022 for small employers. The minimum wage in Minneapolis as of January 1, 2018 is $10 for all employers rising to $11.50 for large employers and $10.25 for small employers on July 1, 2018. In January 2018, St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter III said in his inaugural speech that he will also create a Sustainable Wage Ordinance; he asked the St. Paul Foundation to commission a study with the Citizens League to study the unintended consequences of Minneapolis’ Sustainable Wage ordinances.

For those who have ever worked, or currently work in a minimum wage job, raising their pay to $15 sounds like a financial breath of fresh air. While it is of the utmost importance that an individual working full-time can afford to move out of poverty, organizations that focus their training programs to teens living in low-income communities or in communities of color may not be able to continue to provide either the quality of their programing or support the number of youth served. There are about 50 nonprofit youth development programs serving more than 6,000 youth each year in the greater Twin Cities area that pay youth while they receive training and wages. These are not just summer programs, most offer year-round training to youth 14-24.

The current Minneapolis Sustainable Wage ordinance contains a Youth Training Wage amendment, but one that might be restrictive to YSE programs:

Employers participating in a city-approved training or apprenticeship program may pay program placements under 20 years old a minimum wage training rate of no less than 85% of the municipal minimum wage for no more than the initial 90 calendar days of their employment. A list of approved programs will be posted on the City of Minneapolis website.

The training program criteria includes very specific training and data requirements which are similar to the summer curriculum of the Minneapolis STEP-UP Youth programming. This criteria includes a 90-day limit for youth training with a leap at the end of the 90-day training period  from 85% to 100% of the prevailing city wage. These criteria may preclude youth from working in long-term training programs. They also require that all programs conform to the criteria outlined by the City of Minneapolis, and obtain approval and posting on the City’s website.

Nonprofit and philanthropic leaders are seeking an expansion of the Youth Training Wage in the Minneapolis ordinance, and are offering pro-active recommendations to the Citizens League, St. Paul Mayor, and St. Paul Council Members. A Youth Training Wage must indeed be a component of the Sustainable Wage ordinance. Common characteristics of nonprofit youth training programs serving youth ages 14-24 include a focus on building career competencies, nurturing soft skills, social emotional growth, a documented set of attained job skills, and evidence that youth are successfully working towards a career plan. However, holding all nonprofits to a 90-day training period when the entire program is a training program jeopardizes the programming costs and structure. As well, the 85% of the sustainable wage is not financial feasible without infusions of additional charitable dollars. A rise to 100% of the prevailing wages will challenge the existence of these programs.

Cookie Cart, with locations both in Minneapolis and St. Paul, is an example of a YSE non-profit youth training program that will be especially jeopardized by the Youth Training Wage as it is written. Cookie Cart is a non-profit bakery that provides teens with skills and experiences to benefit them as they enter adulthood and the working world. Not only do unskilled youth from low-income communities learn how to make cookies, about managing inventory and aspects of running a business, they have field trips to explore various career opportunities, and they get more connected in their community leading to relationships and references for the future. “About 60% of every youth wage supports youth skills development and exploration of career paths that are completely unrelated to baking and business.” says Executive Director Matt Halley. “The reason we are fine with this is that the program give youth the social and emotional (SEL) skills training that employers in our community want. We are in the business of baking bright futures.” Because programs like Cookie Cart do not function the way traditional businesses do, and focus on  mentoring, skills building, and community learning experiences, the new Youth Training Wage does not serve their needs or mission.

Every $1 increase in hourly wage will cost Cookie Cart an additional $30,000 per year. This is a substantial amount of funding for a non-profit to obtain, and would mean having to make changes, such as cutting the number of teens hired, cutting the amount of hours worked, or increasing the amount of cookie sales, or, shifting its focus from baking futures to bakery sales.

Sundance Family Foundation has both programmatic and grantmaking experience with Youth Social Entrepreneurship (YSE) nonprofits that integrate practices of positive youth development with community engagement and social entrepreneurship to enable mutual transformation of economies, neighborhoods, and individuals. Sundance grants about $400,000 a year to support these nonprofits, coordinates tours, arranges Wunderkammers, and champions innovative supports. As a result of a 2-year collaboration with Wilder Research, 14 YSE nonprofits now have the documentation and evidence-based research necessary to prove that they are model youth training wage programs.

According to the Founder and Executive Director, Nancy Jacobs,  “Sundance is advocating that a Youth Training Wage with a longer training period and a larger differential between the prevailing wage and the youth wage for certain identified programs be implemented both in Minneapolis and in St. Paul to allow these skilled nonprofits to continue guiding young people with technical, social, and emotional skills, and provide them opportunities to attain fulfilling careers with sustainable wages.”


Cookie Cart Interview with Ayana and Dejah

AyanaandDejahCCCookie Cart about their experiences. These two student have been working at Cookie Cart for the past two or three months. Ayana and Dejah are both 15 youngs old and are in high school. I interviewed these enthusiastic students as follows:

Why did you start working at Cookie Cart?
Ayana: I thought Cookie Cart would be a great job where I could meet new people. Cookie Cart is going to keep me busy but it’s more than just an after school program to me. I had a job before this but I did not get pay for it. I just volunteered at a school. Yeah, this is my first job.
Dejah: I worked during the summer with the Step-up program. Step-up ended when the school year began, so i did not have money going into the school year. Now im working at Cookie Cart so I have money to hangout with friends and do other things too.

How do you like it here at Cookie Cart?
Ayana: I like working at Cookie Cart. It’s helping me with my future so I don’t have to be jobless  when i’m in college because they will see that I was in this amazing program. Also I am meeting new friends. I love that I get to see so many new faces.
Dejah: I love making cookies at home. Working at Cookie Cart helps me do what I like to do.

The classes we take here at Cookie Cart will help us to get jobs outside of here. They allow us to learn and they help make us better people. One of the classes is through the National Career Readiness Certification which is helping us get the certification and preparation for the ACT, so we are getting help with school work too.

What’s good about Cookie Cart?
Ayana: The classroom time! There is no other program with classroom time that  is like Cookie Cart. They teach you so you can have skills when you move on that are not just for your job but for life. Cookie Cart also knows that you are in school so they work around what you do at school.
Dejah: Cookie Cart is fun. I love all the classes.  When I apply to other jobs I won’t have to take customer service, 360 degrees and NCRC courses.  Since I worked here, other jobs will quickly look at me. I heard from my friend that she put down on an application that she worked at Cookie Cart and the people hired her on the spot.

Ayana: I love the responsibilities that I now have. Cookie Cart is really teaching me to keep up with everything that I need to do.

What are some of the thing that you don’t like?
Both: Some of the younger teens don’t know how to stop. They don’t know how to separate school and work. At school you can get away with a lot but at work its a different setting. So they don’t know how to stop playing around. Also now that Cookie Cart has new students working we don’t get as many hours.

As we ended the interview both Ayana and Dejah talked about other future jobs that they wanted to get–but all the jobs were fast food jobs. I told them to dream and look bigger than what  they were thinking. They should always have big dreams, also work hard for those dreams and never let anything get in the way.