Twin Cities RISE! recently held “A Rising Tide” Gala at the Nicollet Island Pavilion to celebrate two decades of providing Twin Cities employers with skilled workers – primarily men from communities of color – by training unemployed adults for skilled jobs that pay a living wage.
Twin Cities RISE! Is an anti-poverty organization that offers a comprehensive work skills training program for low-income adults in the Twin Cities area. It provides a combination of work skills classes, personal empowerment training courses, one-on-one coaching, and internship opportunities that result in placement in full-time jobs.
The training program aims to lead its students to long-term success in a living wage job through a curriculum based on input from employers and the expertise of adult education professionals.
“What attracted me to this organization is that the results are tangible,” said Gabrielle Parish, a board member for Twin Cities RISE! “You get to see firsthand how peoples’ lives have changed and their families’ lives. On top of all this, Twin Cities RISE! enables people to do it for themselves. People can take ownership of their lives and take charge for themselves.”
The outcome-driven organization receives its funding through a pay-for-performance contract with the state of Minnesota, which they receive only upon the completion of long-term, successful outcomes.
“We’ve been able to help thousands move toward the middle class,” said Steve Rothschild, founder and chairman of Twin Cities RISE! “What’s really important is that (the graduates) stay in their jobs. Eighty-two percent of those who have gone through our program have stayed at their jobs for over a year, nearly twice the national average.”
Tom Streitz joined Rothschild as president and CEO of Twin Cities RISE! in January of this year. Since 2008, Streitz had been the director of Housing Policy and Development for the city of Minneapolis, a position that oversees public funding for housing projects in addition to guiding housing development strategies.
“I had (also) been a civil rights lawyer for a number of years and was really excited when I was approached about this position,” said Streitz. “What compelled me the most was the organization’s mission to help low-income people, and especially people of color. It’s a deeply personal job. I’ve been able to see people really pull themselves up. Every time it happens, it’s a miracle.”
Rothschild has long been motivated to find a solution to the poverty experienced by many people of color in the Twin Cities. In creating this organization, he sought to both respond to the needs of the market and to provide long-term training for low-income adults so they can retain employment.
“Steve has done such a wonderful thing for the community,” said Sharon Hawkins, a board member for Twin Cities RISE! “It’s so heartwarming to see how the graduates and their families have benefitted from his compassion and be able to turn their lives around – to really pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.”
“I’m just delighted,” Rothschild said. “When you start something, you never know if it’s going to work … I’m really proud of what we’ve accomplished.”