R!SE UP: It's Never Too Late!

Nunlock B.,  mother of five, sat down to talk to us about her journey at TCR. 

What brought you to Twin Cities R!SE?

I wanted to change my career and be successful for my kids. And to show my kids that it is never too late to follow your dream.

What have you learned while being here at Twin Cities R!SE?

I learned a lot. I learned that I had skills that I never thought I had.  I learned that I am very powerful. I learned that I am an inspiration and motivator to my friends outside of here. I never knew that until I looked at myself. I have made a big impact in everyone’s life that I have come across.

What has kept you from job success?

I think just knowing the right things to say, as far as key words in resumes. And recognizing the skills that I already have. I have a big gap, where I didn’t work. Even though I didn’t work, I still worked and I still had skills even though I wasn’t in the workplace.

What barriers have held you back in the past?

It was being homeless. Not being stable held me back, I think it held my kids back too. In order to be successful, you have to be stable.  I came here as soon as I got housing.

The things that I learn here, I take it back to my kids. It is motivational and empowering here at Twin Cities R!SE.

What do you hope to accomplish when you graduate from Twin Cities R!SE?

I hope to know what my career goal is. I am still going to come back and learn more things.

What would you tell someone about coming to Twin Cities R!SE

I would tell them that it will change your life. It will make you see yourself within.
Twin Cities R!SE is real.
When you walk out of here, you will know what you are worth.

In Remembrance~ Keith Simons

We share the heavy news that our beloved Empowerment Institute Director, Keith Simons, passed away on July 26, 2017.

Please join us in sending your thoughts and prayers to Keith's family. 

We are a strong and empowered group here at TCR in large part because of Keith’s courage , strength, and unshakeable belief in the power of love of self and others. This gift will never leave us.

Obituary Posting

Full Obituary

R!SE UP: Jacqueline's Triumph

You can’t help but smile when you meet Jacqueline. There is a presence about her that is the embodiment of joy.  According to her, this was not the case before she enrolled at Twin Cities R!SE.

How has your Transformation been since coming to Twin Cities R!SE?

“When I started at Twin Cities R!SE, I felt like I wasn’t about nothing. That’s how I felt because I had nothing going for myself. Twin Cities R!SE made me feel important. I had lost my self-esteem when I lost my housing.

Jacqueline heard about TCR when Quinten, a community outreach coordinator, was visiting the shelter that she currently lives in told her everything about the program.

“I am glad that I started it. I really love all of my instructors. I am sad that I won’t be able to attend the second session, but it is for a good reason. I am going to start a new job on Thursday! I haven’t worked since January. I am going to be working at Whole Foods, earning $14 an hour.”

Do you feel like you interviewed better because of Twin Cities R!SE?

“Yes. Yes, my interview was easy and peaceful. When I went in for the interview, the woman said that she liked the way that I came in, that I had a glowing personality. I am going to try to keep that, because she made me feel good.”

“Somebody asked me, is it worth it? Yes it is! I have been out of school since 1974. I never thought that I would go back to school at the age of 60.”

“I am glad that I started at TCR. I feel good about myself. I feel that I have accomplished something.”

LRT Build Graduates!

Graduation day for construction students 

As published in CCX Media Full Story

Light rail expansion is still in the planning stages, but some students are ready to help build it. Sixteen graduated from a construction apprentice program Friday at North Hennepin Community College.

Family and friends packed the Grand Hall to celebrate students who completed the 10 week LRT Build Program. No one was more excited, than graduate, Samona Drink.

"I'm ecstatic, I'm ready," she said. 

The only female in the apprentice prep training curriculum, Samona held her own against her male counterparts, learning the in's and out's of the construction industry.

"I can drive a machine if I wanted to, a power tool if I wanted," said Samona.

She had to bulldoze her way through some of life's hurdles before getting to this point.

With a quivering voice she said "I was homeless for four years, before I came here. Nobody would help us, so we helped ourselves."

Now, Samona is back on track.  She and her fellow graduates have the opportunity to work on the Southwest and Blue Line light rail projects.

"My handprint  is going to be on that, and so are all my brother's too. It's something to be proud of. You come into town and someone's new just visiting, all I can say is, I've done that, I built that," she said.

And although the light rail projects still have funding hurdles to overcome, these graduates look forward to leaving their mark on the projects.

"It will be tedious to know that I won't be on the light rail for long, because of the construction and how their hours are working, but just to know I can put my part into it, makes me happy," said Dionte Javon Henley.

Sonya Goins, reporting

June 30, 2017

R!SE UP: A New Beginning

SEE ME RISE- Davis's Journey

Growing up in a single parent home, Davis moved around a lot. His father was not involved in his life, in fact, the first time that he met his father was at the age of 18 in a hospital room as his father was passing away from cancer. Several factors as he grew up contributed to his low self-esteem and lack of self-confidence. “My pride, my self-esteem, and my confidence suffered because of this constant feeling of not measuring up. I was a follower, who wanted to fit in, even if it meant doing the wrong things.”

At a young age, Davis began drinking and doing small crimes. Eventually, these decisions led to a five year jail sentence. In 2013, Davis was released early after serving three years for good behavior.

“When I was released from jail, I had no money, no job, no car, and no where to live. I didn’t realize, all of the problems that I would face now having a record and how much harder putting a life together would be.”

Davis heard about Twin Cities R!SE from a friend and enrolled right away.

“Twin Cities R!SE allowed me to tell my story without being judged. They were there to motivate me and they helped me to know that I could be better, and most importantly, they didn’t give up on me.”

While at TCR, Davis took typing, credit building,and communication classes.

“The classes on how to interview well and and the ones that taught me to bring up my past history in a professional and positive manner were most impactful for me.”

He began working temp jobs while at TCR, but it was nerve wracking not knowing if  he would get a call back the next day, or not. At one point, Davis was working a temporary position that required a daily four hour commute via biking, light rail, and bus.

“It wasn’t easy, but I didn’t quit. My Career Coach at TCR, Tony Blakey, encouraged me, and by the end of the program, I earned a full-time position with benefits, and this September, I will be celebrating two years of employment at the same company. Twin Cities R!SE has renewed my self-confidence  and gave me the skills that I needed to turn my life around.
“At Twin Cities R!SE, I learned that no matter what you have been through, there is always a way to overcome. Look at where you are, learn from it, and do better.”

Davis is currently working towards buying a home and getting his CDL license to become a truck driver.

TCR Poject_S1-2.jpg
“Challenges come and go, but because of Twin Cities R!SE, I am able to think clearer, and make better decisions that are in my own positive self-interest.”  

Donate to TCR and give more people like Davis a new beginning.

To hear more about how people are transforming their lives with TCR, sign up for email updates.

Jobs training program starts for Bottineau light rail!

Full Story (CCX Media)

If you want to work on future light rail construction projects in the Twin Cities, there are some potential opportunities.

An orientation program started Monday in Minneapolis for unemployed or underemployed residents. There were 40 people at the inaugural seminar, which is part of a 10-week program that began at Twin Cites Rise in north Minneapolis.

In four weeks, the orientation moves to North Hennepin Community College, where individuals will learn construction basics, OSHA training and how to read blueprints.

The goal is to prepare them so they can possibly be hired to work on light rail projects and eventually get a career in construction.

"It's a fantastic opportunity," said Gary Courtney who is with the LRT Blue and Green Line project extension. "It's important to the project office and also the community that there is a level of inclusion, meaning that individuals from the community get to build and have the opportunity to participate in this very important rail system. With this program we hope we are delivering that and impacting individuals in the community."

The Bottineau and Southwest Light Rail projects are expected to create more than 14,000 construction jobs. 

There will be a need for workers in all phases of the industry as the Blue and Green Line extensions are completed. Those projects, however, still need funding.

Once the funding issue is resolved and construction can proceed, the Bottineau and Southwest projects will need laborers, carpenters, iron workers, masons, and crane and heavy equipment operators.

The apprentice prep training, which is known as LRT Build, is worth up to $4,000 per person. Those attending the sessions will learn many facets about the construction business.

"Introduction to the industry," said North Hennepin instructor Rich Krohn. "We're going to give them OSHA 10, so they're going to get some basic safety training and then we are going to actually expose them to the different crafts so they can make an informed decision as to what part of the building they want to do on this project."

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, while 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.”