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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

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