Impact and Programs
AchieveMpls' work was significantly disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic; nevertheless, we came very close to meeting the majority of our objectives.
As the strategic nonprofit partner, and sole universal career and college readiness service provider, of Minneapolis Public Schools, AchieveMpls was instrumental in helping students transition to remote learning, and the district delegated responsibility for all postsecondary planning activities to our Career & College Center staff. By the end of the 2019-20 school year, we helped ensure that 70% of seniors applied to college, which corresponds to labor market research that 70% of Minnesota jobs now require some level of postsecondary credentialing. Of these seniors, 83% submitted two or more applications, dramatically increasing their likelihood of successfully enrolling. Additionally, 50% of seniors completed the FAFSA, compared to the statewide average of 47.3% (down by 6.3%).
The Step Up Youth Employment Program was extremely impacted by the pandemic in summer 2020. Nearly 70% of our regular employers were unable to participate. While we were able to provide some “traditional” in-person internships with partners who were able to comply with health guidelines, several other employers worked with us to develop remote work and training opportunities. Overall, 1,871 youth facing barriers to economic opportunities completed our Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce-certified work readiness training, 464 had paid in-person internships, and approximately 500 participated in paid remote training. Of those who completed our survey, 95% of interns said they had a valuable learning experience and 92% of supervisors said their interns made a valuable contribution.
While it is difficult to predict the duration of the pandemic and long-term impact, which impact our ability to reach the same volume of students, we also know the importance of our work. Therefore, we have adjusted our goals, yet, kept them aggressive. In spring of 2020, we effectively pivoted to a remote service model, and as we continue in remote learning, we also continue to push ourselves to be innovative, and data-driven in our approach, to best meet the changing needs of our students. That said, our team continually reviews our logic model to assess our work, our progress against our goals and to determine ways we can improve student career and college readiness and postsecondary outcomes.
Career & College Centers:
- 50% of seniors will use AchieveMpls school-based career and college readiness services
- 75% of seniors will apply to at least one postsecondary program, and 75% of these students will apply to two or more postsecondary programs
- 55% of seniors will complete the FAFSA or Minnesota Dream Act and apply for some form of financial aid
We are cautiously optimistic we will be able to deliver traditional in-person Step Up paid internships in summer 2021. However, the economic impact of the pandemic may mean fewer employers will be able to participate in the program and we will likely still offer a hybrid of both in-person and remote training opportunities. This means paid internships, work readiness training, and enrichment experiences will be even more important and impactful for the youth we serve, as there will be fewer opportunities for youth facing barriers to economic opportunities. Based on Summer 2020, we estimate that 1,000 low income youth will complete Step Up work readiness training and 450 will participate in paid Step Up internships.
Community or Constituency Served
AchieveMpls has four major programs that serve overlapping but slightly different populations.
At the heart of our work are the Career & College Centers, which are embedded in 15 Minneapolis and Saint Paul public high schools, serve 15,000 students each year, ensuring they meet grade-appropriate, graduation-ready milestones. We have memoranda of agreement with both school districts, allowing us unparalleled access to individual student and aggregate data that we use to identify needs, devise interventions, monitor our progress, and evaluate our impact. The CCCS provide expert career exploration advising, career events with local professionals, college fairs and tours, college rep visits, assistance with college, financial aid and FAFSA applications, advice on resume writing and job interviewing, connections with internship and job opportunities, and links to other college access providers.
Since 2016, AchieveMpls has been building its ability to offer additional resources to connect students with a wider variety of career and training opportunities so that they can access family-supporting, high-demand, high-growth careers more quickly after high school. While our school-based services are available to all students, we prioritize those who face the greatest barriers to opportunities and success after graduation and therefore have the most to gain from career and college readiness support. For example, of the students directly served by our centers, 61% were eligible for free or reduced price lunch compared to 54% of the general population, meaning we “over served” low-income students by seven percentage points.
We also provide students with hands-on, real-world opportunities to build their resumes through paid, career-oriented Step Up Youth Employment Program internships in partnership with the City of Minneapolis. Every year, we recruit, train, and place 1,400 youth in paid internships with 200 employer partners, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to small businesses, public agencies, and nonprofits. Over the course of their internships, our young people collectively earn $3 million to support themselves and their families and many become eligible to earn academic credit. Since one of the greatest barriers to economic opportunities is a lack of social capital, all our internships are reserved for youth facing the greatest challenges to success after graduation. In a typical year, 90% of Step Up interns come from low-income households, 90% are youth of color, and about half are first or second generation immigrants. Step Up gives young people the chance to genuinely experience what it is like to work in a specific industry or profession, receive skills-based work readiness training, experience workplace culture, and develop critically important professional connections that may aid them as they pursue their future career path.
Leveraging our nearly two decades of experience creating and delivering foundational work readiness training and paid internship programming, this summer we successfully launched a small, first-year pilot of college-level internships. We will expand these opportunities in the coming years. While there are several programs operating in the metro that serve both high school and college students, no other organization has AchieveMpls’ capacity to work at a community wide scale or has the network of employer-partners spanning all industries and sectors. In our inaugural year, we partnered with the Minnesota Private College Fund to serve a small cohort of scholars, all of whom were college juniors, young men of color, preparing to transition from postsecondary programs into full-time employment. These internships were even more rigorous and career-oriented than our high school internships and included advanced coaching and training. A handful of examples include Tyresse who worked at Graco as a supply chain information analyst, Maxwell who worked at Black Music America as a content programmer, and Ali who interned with Generation Next in Outreach and Partnerships. Going into the next program year, our goal is to scale up to support more interns, develop a more comprehensive program model, develop systems to track efficacy, and create a program logic model.
In addition to these programs, AchieveMpls also serves as the MPS foundation, assisting the district in raising millions in corporate and foundation support for key MPS priorities such as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination), college and career readiness programs, and human capital development. AchieveMpls processes over $1 million each year in private donations to MPS schools and departments, and distributes funds to support various MPS activities, ranging from classroom supplies to artists and field trips. We administer over 92 college scholarships for MPS seniors and recent graduates and award mini-grants for MPS classrooms, staff professional development and field trip grants. Finally, we create strategic funds to meet changing student needs, such as the COVID-19 Emergency Fund through which we raised and distributed financial assistance to students and their families who were most impacted by the pandemic and quarantine.
Geographic Area Served
Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN