Grants help youth prepare for careers


(l-r) Leona Martin and Jamiya Burden
(l-r) Leona Martin and Jamiya Burden (Charles Hallman/MSR News)

City of Minneapolis Employment and Training was among 13 groups receiving Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) grants to help high school students from specified racial, ethnic and at-risk groups in future career planning.

“We specifically wanted to target youth that live in North Minneapolis and Cedar-Riverside,” says Tammy Dickinson, a career pathways coordinator for the City of Minneapolis. “But anyone who lives in Minneapolis can be served by the project. We are not trying to limit it, but we know about 80-90 percent of the kids that come to the workshops are going to be youth of color.” She adds that the youth in the two aforementioned target areas “have the most need.”

Of the originally requested $50,000, a $20,000 DEED grant was awarded to the City from a total of $250,000 in grants to 13 statewide organizations that work with youth on career planning.

“We are really excited that the City of Minneapolis is partnering with us to help with this grant, because there is such a need in our community,” stated Minnesota Employment and Economic Development Workforce Development Specialist Leona Martin. “Our youth need support. That career piece needs to be…more focused for [youth] to find out” about services.

The grant, which was awarded through the State agency’s Youth Development Office, comes into effect July 1, said Dickinson, explaining that the money will be used while students are out of school this summer to host career workshops at the two State workforce centers in North and South Minneapolis.

“We are looking to go to parks and schools,” added Martin.

Martin and her team of facilitators, which include two Somali, two Black females, two Whites and a Black male, typically work with young people ages 16-24 to develop job-seeking skills in such fields as health care, manufacturing, and entry-level customer service positions. “We’ll open it up to age 14,” said Martin on the grant-funded three-hour workshop sessions, which will include career assessment and résumé writing.

“I think this work is very important, because you see a lot of kids come in who are [ages] 14 and 15, and they don’t even know how to start preparing for a career later in life,” Dickinson said, adding that she often see teenagers interested more in “high-profile careers” such as professional athletics or music.

“We try to talk more about positions that they also could be interested in,” she continues. “The earlier we can start talking [about careers] the better. What we try to do is find out what the kids are interested in and talk to them about the labor market and give them information along with what they are interested in.”

Most youth are just looking for a job, but Martin points out, “We are trying to narrow down the focus so we can work with them one-on-one. Then we go to the résumé next, [based] on what skills they’ve already acquired.”

Sixteen-year-old Jamiya Burden took part in a career workshop. She told the MSR that she learned interview skills, appearance, application and résumé writing, and the dos and don’ts of using social media and email in her job search. “I want to be by myself. I want to run a daycare,” said Burden.

Burden’s grandmother, Janice Stanford, was impressed: “This girl learned a lot. It taught her a lot,” she said. “She is going to take those tools and go a long way.”

Martin says parents are excited about their children’s participation in the career workshops. Stanford seconds that emotion: “I will highly recommend it.”


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