Minnesota foundations lead way in training needy citizens for in-demand jobs

Philanthropic organizations in Minnesota are devoting major efforts to training the state’s neediest citizens for in-demand jobs. A coalition of Twin Cities foundations called MSP Win is leading the way.

“Training that leads to employment ‘is the best cure for many of society’s challenges’,” said Brian Lipschultz of the Otto Bremer Trust, which gave away $47 million in 2017,” according to the Star Tribune. The paper reported that

MSP Win is analyzing job openings by area—health, construction, IT, for example—to better understand market demand. It’s bringing together employers, unions, and trainers to map out successful career paths.

Ryan Ponthan of the North Central States Council of Carpenters told the Star Tribune that an infusion of philanthropic funds into worker training is “welcomed and needed”:

‘I am out on job sites every day, and I see there is a need for more skilled labor out there’, Ponthan said….

Trades give workers a shot at achieving a comfortable middle-class lifestyle. Apprentice carpenters start at $18.50 an hour plus benefits, and that doubles when they reach journeyman status, Ponthan said.

One successful program is Summit Academy, a vocational training center that prepares 750 adults a year to work in construction and health care. According to the Star Tribune, its 20-week training programs are free of charge. Summit is funded by government and foundation funds as well as individual donors. The Star Tribune explains:

Summit’s new 30-week program promising a GED and job training has financial backing from Otto Bremer, U.S. Bank, Target and MSP Win. Summit graduates, unemployed when they enroll, reported earning $15.08 an hour two years after leaving the program.

Louis King II, Summit’s president and CEO, said the school’s appeal is simple: ‘The best social service program is a job. We have demonstrated through years of welfare and philanthropy [that] we cannot replace two working parents.’