CEP Receives grant for youth.

13 Jul 2015


The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) awarded a two-year, $250,000 grant to the Detroit Lakes office of the Rural Minnesota Concentrated Employment (CEP) Program.


According to Vicki Leaderbrand, director of operations and human resources for the local CEP office, the grant will bring in $125,000 for each of the two years of the project, to be used to help build a business internship program that will allow young people in the local office’s 19-county region to gain valuable work skills and job experience.

“We’re calling it TIE — Transitional Internship Experience,” she said.

“We’re really looking at helping youth ages 14-24, especially those who are economically disadvantaged or at risk,” she continued, “by providing them with a summer or year-round work experience, while at the same time exposing them to a potential career pathway.”

“The idea is we want to place the focus on developing internships that link youth to employers who are facing difficulties filling their vacancies. We will be working with interested businesses to develop work sites, and we will be offering job counseling (for the interns).”

The internships offered will be tailored to the specific needs of the communities and businesses involved, to “increase young people’s exposure to in-demand jobs that are of importance to the local economy,” while at the same time promoting “skills acquisition and work readiness,” Leaderbrand added.

For instance, in Detroit Lakes, the internships offered could be in manufacturing, health care or hospitality services, she said.

The internships will also be competitive, with potential employers vetting applicants in the same way they would if the person was seeking a full or part-time job with the company.

“We want these kids to understand what a job search in the ‘real world’ would be like,” Leaderbrand explained.

CEP will be working closely with area high schools that offer school-to-work or similar programs for academic credit, she added.

The ultimate goal is for the students to earn national career readiness certification (NCRC) through their internships.

“This is a certification that more and more businesses are beginning to recognize,” Leaderbrand said. “If someone has their NCRC it assures the employer that particular person has a certain set of basic skills that make them more employable.”

Because the program is competitive, however, even if someone is not currently enrolled in school, they might still be considered for an internship if they fall within the 10-year age requirement.

“Over the course of the two years we anticipate offering at least 48 internships,” Leaderbrand said. “The focus will be on youth in that transition age between high school and college — mostly 16-19 year olds — but the grant is designed to serve anyone in that 10-year age span (14-24).”

She added that they hope to have the program up and running in time for the start of classes this fall. For more information, please call the local CEP office at 218-846-7400.

In all, a total of $3.18 million in funding was awarded by DEED during this grant round, to 22 programs statewide that offer youth employment and skills development programs.

The new round of grants will fund programs that focus on young people who are economically disadvantaged, at-risk, homeless, disabled or from communities of color that are under-represented in the workforce.

“These programs will help young people gain the skills they need to succeed in the workplace,” said DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben. “This is not only important for them but for Minnesota, ensuring that the next generation of workers is ready to fill openings as baby boomers retire and new jobs are created.”

DEED is the state’s principal economic development agency, promoting business recruitment, expansion and retention, workforce development, international trade and community development. For more details about the agency and its services, visit the website at http://mn.gov/deed, or follow them on Twitter at twitter.com/mndeed.

Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.