Minneapolis, MN

City Name and Name of Workforce Area:
Minneapolis WSA 10

Contact Person:
Pat Behrend

Contact Information:

Mayor Betsy Hodges

CPED color

Sector Strategies




STEP-UP/Summer Worksite Tour

On July 21st , the Minneapolis Workforce Council and staff from City of Minneapolis Employment and Training organized the STEP-UP Worksite Tour, an annual event that highlights the successes of Minneapolis youth at their STEP-UP internships and the great local employers hosting these youth.

However, unlike past events which centered upon a bus tour of multiple sites across the city, staff suggested that we dive deeper this year and highlight the great work being done in one specific neighborhood.

The 2015 summer worksite tour descended upon the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, a neighborhood of mixed fortune. Cedar Riverside is one of the poorest neighborhoods in Minneapolis, yet it one of the most vibrant, filled with a mix of Minneapolis institutions, such as Fairview University Hospital, the University of Minnesota West Bank, and Augsburg College, along-side newly established Somali-owned businesses, community-based service providers assisting new Americans, and a mom and pop stores dotting Cedar Avenue.

The event drew more than 80 guests who gathered at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management.

With a welcome from the Workforce Council Chair and Minneapolis City Council Member Abdi Warsame whose ward includes the Cedar Riverside neighborhood, the walking tour commenced.

Attendees visited three STEP-UP worksites; Cedar Riverside Plaza Tenant Association, Somali American Parent Association, and Cedar Riverside People’s Center. These organizations highlight the work of both the STEP-UP interns and the work of the organization, and how both impact the economic vitality of the neighborhood.

After the walking tour was over, attendees returned to the Carlson School to enjoy a lunch from the Afro Deli and to learn more about the STEP-UP work experience from an intern/employer panel. Panelists all work in the Cedar Riverside neighborhood and shared their experiences, discussed their challenges, and expressed their future hopes and dreams.

The STEP-UP Worksite Tour was featured on two local newscasts and several of the interns were interviewed and their stories were spotlighted.

Response from attendees to the change in Worksite Tour format was overwhelmingly positive. Over the next two years, the City of Minneapolis will continue with this format, highlighting North Minneapolis in 2016 and South Minneapolis in 2017.

The event directly impacted at least 13 STEP-UP interns; five City of Minneapolis Community Planning and Economic Development (CPED) interns acted as tour guides, conducting the attendees through the walking tour. At each site, interns (five in total) shared their summer experiences, challenges, and rewards of work with the tour members. At the lunch panel, three interns discussed their work experience with the group. For these students who range from age 16-21, the experience of preparing for and participating in public speaking is a skill that will positively impact their ongoing educational, civic, and employment experience. In addition, the students featured on the newscasts showed poise and confidence that will undoubtedly assist them in their education and careers.

While 13 STEP-UP interns participated in 2015, the actual impact on future interns is immeasurable. By

highlighting the worksites and the benefits to youth work, to city leadership, state leadership, philanthropy, and others, we gain the needed exposure to grow this program in future years, allowing more Minneapolis youth access and opportunity in STEP-UP.

Over the last year the Minneapolis Workforce Council and the Minneapolis Youth Council held multiple listening sessions and a report out meeting with residents of Cedar Riverside. The main focus of these sessions was to hear from community residents and community-based service providers as to the opportunities and challenges of employment for Cedar Riverside residents, particularly young people.

These meetings and conversations between the city and the community have increased communication and awareness on both sides of the issues that residents are facing and some possible solutions. The STEP-UP Worksite Tour walking tour grew out of these conversations and provided an opportunity to report out of the progress made including:

  • Minneapolis Youth Works issued an RFP for Ceder Riverside non-profits to assist young people in the neighborhood to get employment, training, and find jobs
  • A Cedar Riverside Job Fair was held in March with high attendance
  • Three new Cedar Riverside STEP-UP employers were recruited for the summer program
  • The Minneapolis WorkForce Centers are partnering with EMERGE to promote workshops with Cedar Riverside youth to prepare them for career paths with specialty training, internships, and jobs
  • The City of Minneapolis will be supporting a pilot Cedar Riverside IT Ready class to be held in Cedar Riverside this fall, focused on youth 18-24

The Minneapolis Workforce Council and Youth Committee were instrumental in recruiting employers and stakeholders to attend the tour. The Cedar-Riverside STEP-UP Employers involved were critical in making sure that their message and interns were clearly understood by the attendees. The employers who presented in the tour and the panel includes the Carlson School of Management, Cedar Riverside Plaza Tenant Association, Somali American Parent Association, Cedar Riverside People’s Center, the City of Minneapolis Community Planning and Development, Bryan Coyle Center and the West Bank Community Coalition.

Most of the resources leveraged were staff hours in coordinating the event. The space on the University of Minnesota campus was free.

The City of Minneapolis plans to use the walking tour – community deep dive model for at least the

next two summers. By highlighting a single community each year we can add more “focus” to a community. This model can easily be replicated wherever neighborhood dynamics are such that community attributes differ from one geography to another.

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