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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Saint Paul Celebrates Renovated Libraries

See the highlights reel from the recent reopenings of Sun Ray and Highland Park Libraries. Saint Paul Public Library welcomed over 5,000 people at these celebrations! The renovated libraries are now larger and brighter, and feature more meeting and reading space, additional computers and faster Wi-Fi, and interactive art and design.

Check it out!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Right Track Wins Local Government Innovation Award

At the City of Saint Paul we work every day to find innovative ways of working smarter in the face of tight budgets. Recently we were honored as an overall category winner of a Local Government Innovation Award (LGIA) for our Right Track youth career development pipeline. The LGIA program is a partnership between the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, Bush Foundation, League of Minnesota Cities, the Association of Minnesota Counties and other public associations. Judges named 20 award-winners from among 100 entries.
What is Right Track?
Right Track is Saint Paul’s pipeline for youth career development and building a diverse future workforce. It brings together partners to address changing demographics and disparities by providing work experiences and skills development for youth facing barriers. Right Track moves youth from subsidized to unsubsidized jobs and creates pathways into in-demand careers.

In Saint Paul 24 percent of youth are unemployed. Our city struggles with poverty and racial disparities. However our diversity is an asset: 40 percent of residents are people of color. Additionally, more than 23,000 businesses are located here. Right Track matches young people’s need for work with employers’ needs to develop diverse talent.

The Right Track Pipeline
Right Track presents youth employment as a pipeline rather than a program:
·         Youth Jobs 01 (YJ01) provides City-subsidized jobs for youth in parks, libraries, and nonprofits.
·         Youth Jobs 02 (YJ02) matches youth with employer-paid professional internships while also providing ongoing skills training and job coach support to ensure success.

·         Youth Jobs Pro (YJPro) is a collection of partner-run programs that provide advanced opportunities in specific sectors, such as IT and emergency medical services. 

Right Track aims to help young people understand how a first job in a park or a library could lead to a summer internship with a company like Ecolab, which could lead to a certificate or credential through a program like Genesys Works or the EMS Academy. The Right Track vision communicates to employers how a summer internship fits into a student’s career trajectory. 

Many cities run youth employment programs. Right Track stands out for these reasons:
  • Clear pipeline that makes it easy for youth and employers to understand the pathways from subsidized to unsubsidized jobs,
  • Use of technology to give young people a voice in their worksite assignment via an online job bank,
  • High level of training and support provided to youth and supervisors in the YJ02 professional internship program, and
  • Intentional marketing of partner-run YJPro opportunities to youth in Right Track YJ01 and YJ02 to expand awareness of possibilities.

As winner of the LGIA “Cities” category, Right Track will receive a $5,000 grant and a professionally produced video to share the story of its work. Two years ago, Saint Paul’s EMS Academy was a finalist for the awards.

We need employers. Join us!
Each year we have many more youth applicants than we have jobs. Businesses can help erase that gap! The cost of hiring a young person for an 8-week professional internship is $1,500.  

To learn more about how your organization can help build a diverse talent pool for our future workforce, visit or contact Catherine Penkert, Right Track Manager, at 651.266.6422 or

Thursday, November 13, 2014

This Winter -- stay warm and safe!

Now that the weather is getting colder, you may be turning up the furnace, building a fire in the fireplace, or digging out that portable space heater. But did you know that home heating is the second leading cause of fires in Minnesota, behind cooking?  In 2013 there were 372 heating-related fires in Minnesota, a 25% increase from 2012.  With a few simple precautions, you can prevent most home heating fires.

Fireplaces and Chimneys
  • Have your fireplace and chimney inspected and cleaned annually to prevent a build-up of creosote, which can lead to a fire in the chimney. 
  • Never burn trash, charcoal, or plastics in a fireplace – they can cause pollutants, including carbon monoxide, to escape into your home and often burn hotter than wood, making them more likely to start a fire in the chimney. 
  • Use a sturdy glass or metal screen in front of the fireplace to prevent sparks and ashes from flying out of the fireplace. 
  • When disposing of ashes, wait until they are completely cool, wet them down, and store them outside in a metal container with a lid. 

In this video, Saint Paul Fire Investigator Jamie Novak gives some more fireplace safety tips.

  • Have your furnace cleaned and inspected by a qualified professional annually and change the filter monthly.
  • Never use a furnace that is in disrepair.  Malfunctioning furnaces can cause dangerous or deadly levels of carbon monoxide (CO) in your home. 
  • Carbon monoxide is called “The Silent Killer” because it is colorless and odorless, so make sure you have a working CO detector within ten feet of every bedroom and on every level of your home. 

Portable Space Heaters
  • Portable space heaters are only intended to be used for a short period of time. 
  • Plug them in directly to an outlet (don’t use an extension cord) and make sure they are at least three feet away from all combustible materials such as curtains, furniture, bedding, pets, and people. 
  • Children should never be left unattended in a room with a space heater.  Be sure to turn off the space heater when you leave the room or go to sleep. 

General Precautions
  • Keep all materials that might catch on fire, people and pets, at least three feet away from all heating sources including furnaces, fireplaces, and portable space heaters. 
  • Never use your stove, oven, or grill to heat your home! 
  • Make sure you have working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in your home. Test them monthly and replace the batteries at least once a year. Smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years and carbon monoxide detectors should be replaced every 5 years.
If you are a Saint Paul homeowner and need new smoke alarms or carbon monoxide detectors, the Saint Paul Fire Department will provide and install them free of charge through Project Safe Haven.  For more information about Project Safe Haven or to sign up, call 651-228-6273 or go to and click on the tab for Project Safe Haven.