Logo of Youthprise

The mission of Youthprise is to champion learning beyond the classroom so that all Minnesota youth thrive. Youthprise was founded by the McKnight Foundation in 2010 to increase the quality, accessibility, sustainability and innovation of opportunities for learning beyond the classroom. They strategically combine funding, capacity building, policy advocacy, research, and modeling youth engagement under one roof. They elevate youth voice in decision-making about programs, policies, research, systems and philanthropy and are driven by a focus on racial equity and addressing the disparities faced by youth of color and other disconnected youth. 

Grantee Information
Federal Awards: 
$3 million over three years (2015-2017)
Focus Area: 
Economic Opportunity
Youth Development
Geographic Focus: 
Hennepin & Ramsay Counties, MN; other areas in Greater Minnesota
Collaborating Partners: 
MN Dept. of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) - Office of Youth Development; Search Institute; Mentoring Partnership of Minnesota (MPM)

Youthprise’s project, Opportunity Reboot, will target youth ages 14-24 that are either homeless, in foster care, involved in the juvenile justice system or disconnected from school and education with an intentional focus on social- emotional skill building to strengthen education and career outcomes. Operation Reboot will implement the Career Pathways Approach, which focuses on providing intensive wraparound services to address the discrepancy between high school graduation and employment for ‘Opportunity Youth’. Currently operating in the Minneapolis/St. Paul region, this initiative will scale Youthprise’s work beyond the Twin Cities to all of Minnesota to achieve full statewide impact, thereby increasing their presence in rural communities.

Entities Receiving Social Innovation Fund Awards from Youthprise

Amherst H. Wilder Foundation
Guadalupe Alternative Program
Initiative Foundation - Sauk Rapids-Rice
MIGIZI Communications
Northfield Healthy Community Initiative
SOAR Career Solutions

Amherst H. Wilder Foundation
St. Paul, MN

Amherst H. Wilder Foundation’s Family Supportive Housing Services programs will support culturally competent employment and educational programs and wraparound services for 44 to 65 homeless youth at Prior Crossing, a 44-unit youth-appropriate housing facility in Saint Paul and East Metro Area. It uses the Housing First model: a person’s access to housing shouldn’t be determined by their income, chemical or mental health, nor their current motivation to improve it. Their primary outcome is to increase access to wraparound services to reduce homelessness by providing age appropriate trauma-informed services, employment and skills training, and social connections in a manner that can lift people out of poverty with longer-term supports. Prior Crossing will also use a positive youth development approach. Through this model, youth will develop the ability to make positive choices in their life.

Youth will be provided with the following services: (a) trauma-informed and harm reduction housing environment, (b) youth development programming focused on strong relationships, high expectations, and meaningful participation by youth, (c) culturally-competent, strengths-based case management, (d) connected to educational opportunities based on the young person’s needs and interests, (e) workforce development training, and (f) facilitated connections to employment and internship opportunities.

Guadalupe Alternative Programs
St. Paul, MN

Guadalupe Alternative Programs (GAP) is a community-based education and social service agency serving at-risk youth. It will scale up a YouthBuild model for over 100 participants from Saint Paul’s West Side, Dayton’s Bluff, Payne-Phalen, and Greater East Side neighborhoods.  GAP’s YouthBuild program makes a difference in young adults’ (ages 18-24) lives by giving them the tools and credentials needed to achieve school, career, and life success.  Its program provides comprehensive wraparound services along with secondary and post-secondary education, workforce preparation, and credentialing. In addition, participant have access to academic and social-emotional supports in-house, and from partner with multiple community agencies and education institutions. GAP continues to see an increase in the interest of our YouthBuild Program. In the 2011-12 school year, it demonstrated a 41% increase over the past three years. By adding customer service and automotive report pathways, it anticipates serving 175 students per year by 2018.

GAP’s YouthBuild Program is built on the YouthBuild model, which has been extensively researched and proven to be effective. GAP has taken a holistic approach to working with young adults by addressing the numerous barriers to their academic and vocational success. It fills a ‘gap’ in the public school education model by providing individualized education that attends to the social-emotional needs of students. It seamless program promotes vocational success by integrating wraparound services to improve student outcomes in terms of graduation, certification, employment, and social-emotional health.

Initiative Foundation - Sauk Rapids-Rice
Sauk Rapids, MN

The Sauk Rapids-Rice School District is a rural district in Central Minnesota will develop and implement a collaborative model for secondary students who are disconnected from school and education, and thus, at risk of dropping out. The project will implement the Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training Model (I¬-BEST) within their district with very little or no modifications to serve 166 young people age 14-20, all of whom are economically disadvantaged and/or disconnected from school, 50% of who are from communities of color and 25% who have disabilities. Partnering organization staff will work collaboratively with school staff to provide mentoring, authentic internship experiences, and career guidance support.  SRR will facilitate Monthly Advisory Council Meetings, which include representatives from nine organizations, which represent all students/families within the identified racial and ethnic groups.  Outcomes will include identification of students, active mentorship and apprenticeship, development and implementation of personalized career plans, goal attainment evaluation, and financial support.

SRR offers a similar, personalized program to youth in Grades 11 and 12, which has been successful as evidenced by increased graduation rates, reduced discipline referrals, and limited referrals to outside agencies for addiction and mental health crisis. SRR has a history of effectively managing multiple grants and delivering services through three significant grants with the Minnesota Department of Education (ADSIS, Magnet, Library Science), the Ramp Up to Readiness Program with the University of Minnesota, and the implementation of Chinese with St. Cloud State University. 

MIGIZI Communications
Minneapolis, MN

MIGIZI has served youth from the Minneapolis American Indian community for the past 38 years. The Green Jobs Pathway will have 60 disconnected Indian youth per year participate in three cohorts to receive education, training, supports, and experiences needed to prepare them to become financially independent, self-determining adults.  The project will utilize the Back On Track model developed by Jobs for the Future and since adopted by several other pathway initiatives.  The Back On Track model is demonstrating early indications of success in reclaiming dropouts and youth at risk of dropping out and significantly improving their retention, high school graduation rates, and postsecondary enrollment.  The model is also highly adaptable and aligned with the strategies MIGIZI has employed for many years in its work with disconnected American Indian youth.

The primary outcome of the Green Jobs Pathway is to increase the percentage of American Indian young people able to complete high school, succeed in postsecondary programs, and secure living wage jobs as they build a career in the Green Economy.
Pathway is creating a career pathway for American Indian youth to discover their cultural role as caretakers of the Earth, develop strong workplace skills, learn through their experience, and complete postsecondary coursework and credentials of value to secure living wage jobs.  MIGIZI has also been recognized by several groups for its excellence in service to American Indian youth including being recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Indian Education Programs as a national model for Indian student success. 
Through its partnership with critical allies, MIGIZI is well-positioned to rapidly scale the model in Year 2.  Partnership with the Indian Education Department in the Minneapolis Public Schools will enable it to regularly share project results and plan for broader adoption of the model in Minneapolis.

Northfield Health Community Initiative
Northfield, MN

Northfield Health Community Initiative serves communities in southeastern Minnesota. Its “Tri-City Bridges to the Future” initiative represents a new collaborative between the local schools, Adult Basic Education, Workforce Development Inc., the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Red Wing, postsecondary institutions, employers, grassroots organizations, youth development programs, citywide youth systems, and service providers. The initiative will offer career pathways approaches for 85 youth ages 14-24 during year one in Faribault, Red Wing, and Northfield who meet one or more of the following criteria: in foster care; involved in the juvenile justice system; are homeless; and/or are disconnected from school and work. The primary focus of Tri-City coursework and programming will be high school completion with dual enrollment options through partnership with area higher education institutions and postsecondary training in career clusters that have clear pathways to higher degrees.

SOAR Career Solutions
Duluth, MN

SOAR Career Solutions (SOAR) will coordinate and facilitate career pathways by other community-based organizations serving at risk youth who are homeless, in foster care, involved in the juvenile justice system or disconnected from education. SOAR will serve as the fiscal lead and partner with Life House, Duluth's "one-stop shop" for services to homeless youth. SOAR provides comprehensive, bundled, re-entry services to men and women ages 18 and older returning to Duluth and the immediate surrounding area. Life House serves 650 homeless and street youth ages 14-23. It offers comprehensive services through four cornerstone programs called the Life House Lifeline: the Youth Drop-In Center, Mental Health & Wellness, Housing, and Futures Education & Employment. In addition, partner organizations employ Positive Youth Development (PYD) elements and  implement best practices for successful youth employment including comprehensive services; positive relationships between staff and youth; independent living skills training; academic and employability skills training; youth input/feedback; financial incentives; and follow-up support. 

SOAR’s primary outcome is to increase employment readiness skills that results in sustainable employment.
SOAR’s approach is evidence-based, and the only re-entry program in Northern Minnesota offering comprehensive services.  SOAR has 32 years of expertise implementing effective, evidence-based programming for people with multiple, severe, barriers to employment.  Its comprehensive, relationship-based services allow clients to overcome barriers, integrate into the community, obtain education, and gain sustainable employment.


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