Minnesota Legislature Stepped Up to Address Glaring Disparities


If successful, grants should help boost the state's economy and benefit all. 

By Editorial Board Star Tribune

Full Article

JUNE 17, 2016 — 6:05PM

The state Department of Employment and Economic Development has $34 million that it will allocate in grants to more than 30 organizations and nonprofits such as Twin Cities Rise, which operates computer classes as shown here.

Though many Minnesotans are legitimately frustrated about the failure of the Legislature and governor to finish the 2016 session’s work, they should applaud lawmakers for getting this right: They agreed to support efforts to help close glaring economic and other disparities in the state.

Earlier this month, Gov. Mark Dayton signed into law a supplementary spending plan that includes $35 million in one-time funding for programs to help reduce racial economic and educational disparities. It’s less than Dayton’s proposed $100 million, but it’s a good start. And understanding the continuing need, lawmakers agreed to $17.5 million per year in ongoing funding.

Now that funding must be carefully monitored to make sure it has the intended impact — improving economic conditions for Minnesotans of color. If successfully managed, the grants should help leverage investment in the state’s most challenged communities and increase workforce participation in the face of a worker shortage.

The majority of the funds — $34 million — will be administered through DEED, Minnesota’s Department of Employment and Economic Development. The agency will allocate grants to more than 30 organizations and nonprofits.

They include groups and programs such as Hennepin County’s Career Connections Pathways, White Earth Nation Business Development, the Latino nonprofit CLUES, the African-American organization Ujamaa Place and Twin Cities Rise. The grants will help expand access to nutritious food, neighborhood development, aid to minority-run businesses and moving more women into high-wage, nontraditional jobs. The funds also will support youth employment and adult career training.

As DEED Commissioner Shawntera Hardy envisions it, state hiring and retention should also benefit from the funding. She said that as a major employer, the state expects to hire some of those who participate in educational and job training efforts. The department also plans to do business with a more diverse group of vendors — some of which may participate in entrepreneur programs assisted by state racial equity grants.

In separate efforts, the Minneapolis and St. Paul city governments are involved in systemwide efforts to evaluate and improve equity in their operations. And officials from 13 Minnesota government agencies, including a few cities and counties, met for the first time earlier this year to discuss systemic inequities.

State lawmakers are still at odds over unfinished business on taxes, bonding and transportation. But despite those continuing disagreements, they did manage to come together to acknowledge that the state has stubbornly entrenched disparities in education, employment, income, health and housing. Their decision to fund racial equity efforts sends a strong signal that state government has a role in expanding access to opportunity and reducing those disparities.

G.E.D. Not Required, College Degrees Accepted!

June 8, 2016 - We are pleased to announce, that as of today, Twin Cities R!SE (TCR) no longer requires a G.E.D. for program participation, nor will individuals be excluded from our program who have already earned a college degree. This change is a part of our three year strategic plan implementation to continue to be innovative and meet the changing needs of participants and community members. 

"Needless barriers to participation in our program should not be in place, that shut out individuals with a low income who need TCR services, regardless of their educational status." ~Tom Streitz CEO & President of Twin Cities R!SE

Twin Cities R!SE now accepts all individuals who have earned less than $25,000 in the past year and otherwise meet ELIGIBILITY, regardless of their educational status.

Stop the Violence, Bring the Unity! 2016 March and Resource Fair

June 4, 2016 -- This year's event kicked off with a Stop the Violence march with friends and family members of murdered victims. It was somber moment, yet we were able to witness many neighbors come together to address the violence plaguing the community on the north side of Minneapolis. There were police officers marching hand in hand with mothers and family members that have lost someone to gun violence. Over 500 community members came out to access community resources at the fair and speak out against violence.

This was by far the largest crowd we’ve seen to date and the rain didn’t stop us!  In addition to the community showing up we had a host of other attendees, including the current and former Minneapolis Mayors, City Council Members, State Representatives, as well as the Chief of Police and other community leaders. 

Thank you to all of our community partners who sponsored this event: 

Cub Foods
Cookie Cart
Blue Cross Blue Shield of MN
Neighborhood HealthSource

Northside Achievement Zone
City of Minneapolis, Public Health
NorthPoint Health & Wellness Center
MadDads of Minneapolis and
A Mother's Love Initiative

Media Coverage:
KSTP- Ch. 5

Stop the Violence, Bring the Unity is a coordinated effort initiated by Shereese Turner, Senior Program Director of Twin Cities R!SE and V.J. Smith of MADDADS in conjunction with Neighborhood Health Source, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Cub Foods, Cookie Cart, Northside Achievement Zone and North Point Health and Wellness with other concerned citizen groups to raise awareness of the surprisingly broad array of services that are available in our community to raise awareness of the surprisingly broad array of services that are available in our community.

In Minneapolis we have many good programs run by compassionate people who work hard to address the problems and needs of our community.  Some of these programs are well-known.  Others are small and relatively unknown because they lack the resources for promotion, but they are effective nonetheless. They offer help where help is desperately needed. Connecting people with such resources can be a powerful first step in dealing with the economic disparities which plagues our communities of color.

We believe lasting solutions to our problems can grow from such a holistic and collaborative approach.  Together we can heal ourselves and bring peace and unity to our beloved community. 

Twin Cities R!SE and the State of Minnesota Partner for Economic Equality

Twin Cities R!SE and the State of Minnesota Partner for Economic Equality

Minneapolis, MN- June 2, 2016 – Yesterday was a historic day for the ongoing partnership between Twin Cities R!SE (TCR) and the State of Minnesota.  Governor Dayton signed a bill that invests substantially in reducing employment disparities in our State. The bill provides Twin Cities R!SE with $1.2 million in funding for the 2017 fiscal year. This funding will come from the $35 million supplemental state budget to improve economic disparities in Minnesota.

$400,000 of this grant amount is directed to renew a highly successful pilot program with Metro Transit. The innovative partnership will build upon the current and first-of-its-kind Metro Transit Technician program that trains individuals, primarily of color and from low income backgrounds, for careers as diesel mechanics. Through this partnership, Twin Cities R!SE provides our signature Personal Empowerment training and unmatched one-on-one job coaching to participants, while Metro Transit provides the specific skills and internship opportunities needed for the job.

The remaining $800,000 is designated for the continuation of TCR’s pioneering “pay-for-performance” grant with the State of Minnesota. In 1997 Twin Cities R!SE became the first organization to be paid by the State based on the results and measurable outcomes we achieve. This funding model requires TCR participants to be placed into living-wage employment with an income increase of at least $10,000 annually prior to any state funds being dispersed. TCR is eligible for an additional grant when program graduates remain in their jobs for at least one year.

In 2018 and beyond, the State has committed up to $600,000 a year for the continuation of TCR’s pay-for-performance grant. In signing the bill the Governor stated this bill “will improve economic opportunities for Minnesotans of color and ensure our economy works for everyone.”

In an interview on the legislation Tom Streitz, CEO of Twin Cities R!SE, stated “Unlike past efforts to address disparities, this legislative funding package is more focused and has the potential to make a significant impact. Today is truly a great day for TCR, TCR participants, and the State of Minnesota!”



For more information about Twin Cities R!SE please contact: Stephanie Jones, Marketing and Communication Manager sejones@twincitiesrise.org or 612-338-0295

About Twin Cities R!SE:

Twin Cities R!SE (TCR) is an innovative anti-poverty organization that offers long-term job training and placement to those facing the most barriers to employment success and long-term financial independence. TCR transforms lives, families and our community by helping the hardest to serve – those from deep generational poverty, find living wage jobs. TCR is a one-of-kind long-term training program with an emphasis on Personal Empowerment along with job skills training and intensive coaching. Founded in 1993 by Steve Rothschild, a former executive at General Mills, Twin Cities R!SE serves nearly 700 adults annually in Minneapolis and St. Paul – primarily men of color and those with multiple barriers to employment. As an outcomes-driven organization and a nationally recognized leader in Pay-For-Performance funding, Twin Cities R!SE demonstrates accountability and results. With job retention rates that far exceed local and national averages, Twin Cities R!SE is designed for low-income adults to become financially independent and exit poverty for good.


Autumn Amadou-Blegen Joins the TCR Board of Directors

We are honored to have Autumn Amadou-Blegen join the Board of Directors at Twin Cities R!SE. Autumn has been involved with Twin Cities R!SE since 2011 as an employer partner, first at Northern Brewer. She has also been an active member of the TCR Employer Advisor Committee in recent years.

“ I found myself as a single working mother in situational poverty at one point, prior to finding my own path, so the strength of TCR participants to realize their full potential is something that resonates deeply for me.”

While currently serving as the HR Director at Summit Brewing Company, Autumn has been working at the senior HR level for nearly a decade. Her education background includes a Master’s degree in Human Resources Management from Concordia University, as well as  SPHR and SHRM-SCP certifications. Autumn believes in TCR because of the experiences she has had watching participants blossom personally and professionally through Personal Empowerment to become contributors as employees.

“I am looking forward to contributing towards the positive outcomes already made possible by the efforts of this amazing organization. The timeliness of my involvement is important as well, as I am hoping to share the story of TCR and its participants with others, with the goal to increase awareness of, participation in, and support of TCR in our community at a time when racial disparities in employment are such a glaring issue in our communities of color.”

GO Service Training Begins March 29th!

In partnership with Dakota County Technical College, Twin Cities R!SE is offering a 10 week service training course.

Trainees will learn proven customer service strategies, hidden skills that will impress employers, and how to anticipate customer needs before any problems arise. This program will give in-depth, behind the scenes access to the hospitality and service industry.

80% of graduates have begun new careers!

The skills learned through GO Service, will be transferable to hospitality and non-hospitality occupations such as: office support, call center support, special events planning, and more.

Register by March 18th!

Classes will be be held Tuesday - Thursday, from 1:00 to 4:00 PM at our St. Paul location.

Register here.