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Archive for April, 2012

Greater Twin Cities United Way: #5 Expert-Identified Workforce Development Nonprofit in Minnesota

April 25th, 2012

Nonprofit #5, Greater Twin Cities United Way partners with agencies in Minnesota to provide employment services. Learn how Bryon, a victim of a violent assault was able to pick himself up with the help of one of United Way’s partner agencies.

In 2005, Byron was the victim of a violent assault in South Minneapolis. “A bystander said she heard the sound of my head crack against the sidewalk,” Byron says. “I was in a coma for nearly 60 days. I was in rehab for another 3 or 4 months. I had to learn how to walk again, how to talk.”  Byron has lived in Minnesota for 47 years. He graduated from high school in Minneapolis, served in the Army Reserve and later worked in maintenance for several large companies in the metro area. “Before my accident, I knew how to sheetrock, do electricity, build houses,” he said. “The accident took all of that away.”

Byron received services at the TBI Metro Services, a division of Opportunity Partners, a United Way partner agency located in the Twin Cities. United Way supports the employment services-brain injury program as part of our goal to improve the financial stability of people in need. We also invest in the semi-independent living services and in-home help program as part of our health goal to help people remain independent. The employment program helps prepare people to rejoin the workforce and work independently, something Byron was eager to do. “I used to accept being disabled,” he said. “I would say, ‘I’m disabled. I can’t do it.’ Joining the program was an opportunity to come out of the ‘poor me’ mode.”

Clients like Byron receive training in work skills and ongoing in-home and community support to learn independent living skills so they can lead healthy lives. After training, clients can move to supported employment teams or independent job placement. In 2009, Opportunity Partners participants worked 149,902 hours on supported employment teams at more than 50 companies and nonprofits throughout the community, and 71 percent of 154 independently placed individuals maintained their employment for more than 90 days.  United Way recently contracted with Opportunity Partners, a social enterprise, to staff its janitorial and maintenance services. This allows us to help improve the financial stability of Byron and his co-workers through program investments and through purchasing services. Byron works on a team at our Minneapolis office.  Byron is proud of the progress he’s made. He started out doing light janitorial work. As he worked, some of his former skills returned. Now he’s using the carpet sweeper and the buffer, equipment he used before the accident. “My life has changed,” he said. “I have more self-worth. People here depend on me to get it done.”  He plays chess with a mystery opponent in the building, making a move and leaving a note that reads “Your move next—The Maintenance Man.” Trying to remember the moves helps me up here, he says, tapping his head.  Byron’s long-term goals include getting his independence back, getting a full-time job and getting off Social Security. “I don’t have that much time left,” he said. “Another 20 good years maybe…I’m looking for new and exciting things in my life.”  Last year, United Way invested in job training programs that helped nearly 6,500 people get and keep their job for least six months. Our investment in health programs also helped more than 109,000 older adults and those living with disabilities maximize their independence so they can remain in their homes.

(Learn more about them at:

According to the experts, the Greater Twin Cities United Way makes an impact by supporting nonprofits and programs that help low-income people become self-sufficient. They conduct return on investment analyses and promote best practices. Read the expert comments here to learn more Greater Twin Cities United Way.

Press Release: 18 Minnesota Workforce Development Nonprofits Identified by 100 Experts

April 24th, 2012

Philanthropedia recently partnered with the Minnesota Philanthropy Partners to uncover expert-identified nonprofits working in workforce development in Minnesota, and we are pleased to share the results!

Workforce development is a topic that is relevant to many Minnesotans and people across the country. Developing strategies to increase gainful employment and support growing businesses is essential to building a healthy economy.

For Minnesota, there are two issues that make this cause particularly relevant:

  • In 2010, The Economic Policy Institute in Washington DC released a study stating that the black unemployment rate in Minneapolis was triple that of whites from the same area. That disparity is one of the highest in the nation. (Source: EPI). To help address this issue, we looked to highlight nonprofits focusing on equity as well as job and skill acquisition.
  • Minnesota is home to a large new immigrant population, many of whom choose to become small business owners. To identify resources for immigrant and non-immigrant entrepreneurs, we also focused on small business development and entrepreneurship training as a component of our research to identify high-impact nonprofits working in workforce development.

Philanthropedia surveyed 100 workforce development experts in Minnesota (with an average of 15 years of work experience in the field) to identify those organizations that were making the biggest impact. These experts (funders, researchers, nonprofit senior staff, government officials, etc.) identified 18 workforce development nonprofits (out of 123 total reviewed nonprofits) working in Minnesota. See the experts who participates in this research by clicking here

Which nonprofits were among the top?

We asked experts to recommend up to four high-impact nonprofits working in workforce development in Minnesota. These experts were asked to consider an array of nonprofits—those which served a range of populations (including youth, people with disabilities and immigrants) as well as offering a variety of services such as direct service, advocacy, training, education, and forms of support.



The following is the list of the expert-identified high-impact nonprofits working in workforce development in Minnesota. Click the link to visit each organizations profile and read expert reviews. Experts have commented on each nonprofit’s impact, other organizational strengths, and how each organization could further improve.

This week we will highlight the top 5 expert-identified Minnesota workforce development nonprofits through our blog and twitter.

If you are an expert, nonprofit organization, or individual, we invite your feedback on our research. You can reach Jasmine Marrow, Manager of Philanthropedia Research at

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