Summer program for young people in Minneapolis awarded $1.5 million grant

Summer program for young people in Minneapolis awarded $1.5 million grant

Summer program for young people in Minneapolis awarded $1.5 million grant

A summer program in Minneapolis will help more young people get closer to success, after a grant award increase.

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development awarded the Step Up program with a $1,550,000 grant. City officials said it’s a $150,000 increase compared to previous years.

It will allow the program to accept 150 more young people between the next two summers. The program currently has 1,500 paid interns.

The Step Up initiative helps low-income youth get paid internships with businesses and organizations across the city.

Esteban Dominguez-Sanchez is a paid intern at East Side Neighborhood Services.

“I get to run around and take care of kids just honestly do a lot of stuff,” Dominguez-Sanchez said.

The 14-year-old is learning the ropes early about what it takes to have a job and keep one.

“The best part is that I get to do the same thing almost every day. It’s not that hard of a struggle,” he said.

The Step Up program ran by the city of Minneapolis is what gets the youth thinking early about their future.

People from ages 14-21 apply based on eligibility. Then, they are matched up with paid internships at private businesses and organizations. The pairing depends on the age of the participant.

“I think it’s the chance for them to try out work and do something meaningful,” Tammy Dickinson, Step Up program director said. “When they’re young it really sets them on a path where they can start thinking about ‘Do I want to go to college? Is college the right place for me?’”

The goal is to help low-income kids in the city by setting them up for success.

“Then it begins to put them in a place where they’re thinking about their behavior in school so being engaged in being learning in school and making sure they’re getting good grades,” Dickinson said.

Emily Kastrul is the youth program manager at East Side Neighborhood Services.

“To be able to offer like a nurturing and supportive first job experience for kids, it’s like really sweet and pretty profound,” Kastrul said.

She said doing their part as the employer has a big impact on the experience.

Dominguez-Sanchez looks at this experience as a stepping stone to get him ready for the real thing.

The program director said this program attracts a lot of young girls, but they’re doing outreach to try and get more boys of color to apply.

Step Up program applications will be back open next summer.