YMCA Engages Young People in Workforce Development Opportunities 

  • Prosperity is not distributed equitably in Minnesota — there is a 13 percent disparity between white community members and those of color. 
  • According to MN DEED, while the unemployment rate among white Minnesotans was only 2.9 percent in 2016, it was 5 percent for Hispanic Minnesotans and 12 percent for African American Minnesotans.
  • According to Wilder Research, only 6 percent of white youth are disconnected from work and school, compared to 17 percent of youth of color.

The YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities, a leading nonprofit dedicated to strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, grows and develops the Minnesota workforce by providing opportunities for young people to develop the skills they need to launch successful careers.

Studies show that while the Twin Cities population is expected to grow by more than 25 percent by 2040, the working age population is expected to fall from 64 percent to 56 percent. The metro area will also become much more diverse, growing its population of people of color from 25 percent today to a projected 41 percent. If today’s employment disparities persist, the Twin Cities will face a serious shortage of qualified workers needed to sustain the economy.

“The Y intentionally works to eradicate disparities and unlock the power of potential in young people by creating pathways from elementary school to college and career success,” said Jenny Collins, executive director for the Y. “It’s critical that we close the gaps so that all young people have access to employment and workforce opportunities.”

Collins explained that through the career pathways initiative, the Y creates spaces for young people to explore their strengths and passions with opportunities for real world experience. Through its reach and scope, the Y is able to help change the outcomes for young people in our community and create connections so they can launch successfully into a career. The Y helps young people access workforce development opportunities by:

  • Providing first internship or job opportunities at Y locations, including as child care or after school team members, sports coaches, lifeguards, swim lesson instructors, camp counselors and more
  • Supporting college access and retention for first generation-students and students of color through the University YMCA and programs like Multicultural Achievers
  • Developing the social-emotional skills critical to the 21st century workforce through an array of youth development programs, including after school programs, camping, Leaders Club, Youth in Government and more
  • Launching young adults of color into careers in corporate and nonprofit settings through internships and innovative programs such as Global Innovators
  • Eliminating barriers to employment through wraparound services and programs such as Youth Intervention Services and the Harold Mezile North Community YMCA Youth & Teen Enrichment Center
  • Connecting students at the University of Minnesota to the campus and surrounding community through volunteering, leadership and mentoring opportunities at the University YMCA 

See how the Y connects young people at the University of Minnesota to opportunities to develop leadership skills and give back to the Twin Cities community – Career Pathways: Global Innovators.

Discover how Sharifa has gained career experience during graduate school through an internship with the University Y – Career Pathways: Sharifa’s Story.

Learn how Laresha has accessed the resources and support she needs to achieve her educational and career goals through the Beacons Network and the Y – Career Pathways: Laresha’s Story.

Through innovative programs and services, the Y connects young people to workforce development opportunities and provides a space where they can access resources and develop relationships with supportive adults. The Y empowers tomorrow’s leaders to prepare for the future, identify and achieve their goals and strengthen their communities.

Because the Y is a leading nonprofit committed to helping all young people thrive, financial assistance is available to those in need. With the generous support of community members, the Y ensures that all have the opportunity to participate. Learn more about the Y’s youth development programs.