Urban Scholars program offers opportunities for a diverse group of students to learn about public service careers

Minneapolis’ first Urban Scholars are currently working in eight different City departments, developing leadership skills and learning about careers in government. With a focus on public service careers, the Urban Scholars Program aims to help young people from diverse backgrounds build skills for the future.

This year’s eight Urban Scholars were chosen from among more than 80 applicants and will be on the job here through mid-August. The eight scholars are all Minneapolis residents who are attending colleges across the country, including Augsburg, Emory, University of Minnesota, Wellesley, Stanford and Minneapolis Community and Technical College.

Urban Scholars is one component of the One Minneapolis Equity in Employment initiative, which works to close the employment gap in a city and metro area that suffers from one of the highest disparities between white and non-white unemployment in the country. While Minneapolis’ overall unemployment rate is 5.3 percent, the lowest since the start of the recession, unemployment among African Americans in Minneapolis is at 20 percent, and the unemployment rate for American Indians is 25 percent.

The One Minneapolis Equity in Employment initiative also attacks the employment gap through the RENEW program, which takes job seekers from the hardest-hit neighborhoods of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, prepares them for green careers and connects them with employers who are hiring. Of the 586 people who have gone through RENEW training so far, 52 percent are African American, and 315 have secured living-wage jobs related to their training.

The City has also increased the number of STEP-UP interns at the City this year. Since that program for high school interns began, 86 percent of interns have been people of color.

In the long run, the City hopes these programs will develop a group of young talent who can begin careers in public service, and someday be the next generation of City leaders. 

The urban scholars are working in the following departments: Neighborhood and Community Relations, City Coordinator’s office, Finance, Public Works, Civil Rights, Health and Family Support, Community Planning and Economic Development, Regulatory Services        and Human Resources.

If you’d like to read blogs the students have written about their experiences with the City of Minneapolis, visit http://civilrightsminneapolis.wordpress.com/urbanscholars/. (The blogs are found on the right-hand side of the screen.)

 

Published Jul. 18, 2012