STEP-UP is open to Minneapolis residents between the ages of 14 and 21 (by June 1) and not yet enrolled in college. Students must also meet income guidelines or face other barriers to employment. They do not need any previous work experience. If you are unsure if you qualify, we encourage you to apply anyway.
“STEP-UP not only prepares our city's young people to be future leaders, it also drives companies, nonprofits and public agencies to become inclusive workplaces,” says Mayor Betsy Hodges. “As Minneapolis continues to grow, we need to do everything we can to make sure we have a diverse workforce that is ready and prepared to join and lead our city’s thriving economy.”
STEP-UP is one of the country’s premiere youth employment programs, serving Minneapolis youth who face some of the greatest barriers to employment, including youth from low income families, youth of color, youth from recent immigrant families and youth with special needs.
Since the program was launched in 2004, it has provided over 24,000 internship opportunities. In addition to summer jobs with over 230 top Twin Cities companies, nonprofits and public agencies, STEP-UP also offers work readiness training, advanced-level internships and industry-specific career opportunities that help interns integrate their career exposure with post-secondary education and career planning.
“My STEP-UP job was my first job in my entire life. I gained a lot of skills and experience,” says Abdirkhader, a STEP-UP Achieve alum. “I worked at Children's Minnesota with a lot of great, professional people who helped me think about my future. They told me how they achieved their careers and encouraged me to continue my education so I, too, could be a manger one day if I wanted!”
“There is more hope for me in the future now that I have the experience I gained from STEP-UP,” says Olivia, another STEP-UP Achieve alum. “My job helped me to learn more about how money and banking works. I now know what career I would like to pursue and my goals are clearer than before.”
Before being matched with their summer jobs, youth receive work readiness training certified by the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce that prepares them for a professional work environment. Returning interns receive advanced training that helps them deepen their professional skills. Throughout their internship, they gain valuable on-the job skills, make strong professional connections, and become exposed to careers they may have not otherwise accessed without STEP-UP.
“I really enjoyed watching our intern grow as an employee," says Krystle Wallace, Operations Manager for the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota. "She participated in staff activities and projects and fit right in. It was great to watch her learn new things and get a better understanding of the daily job tasks.”
In 2016, STEP-UP placed over 1,600 Minneapolis youth in jobs with 220+ businesses, public agencies, and nonprofits. Youth in the 2016 class included 88% youth of color, 48% youth from recent immigrant families, and 15% youth with disabilities or other significant barriers to employment. 36% spoke fluently in a language in addition to English, representing 44 different languages from around the world.