Interested in creating a pipeline of young, talented workers for your company?  Do you want to mentor a young person and introduce them to your profession?

STEP-UP places over 1,600 diverse and talented Minneapolis young people (ages 14 – 21) each year in paid professional internships with 226 top Minneapolis-St. Paul employers from Fortune 500 companies to small businesses, public agencies and nonprofits.  Last summer, over 40 employers in downtown Minneapolis hired interns through STEP-UP.

One of the nation’s leading youth employment programs, STEP-UP is preparing tomorrow’s workforce today through work readiness training certified by the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce, career-oriented internships, and industry-focused certifications.  The program serves Minneapolis youth who face some of the greatest barriers to employment, particularly youth from low income families, youth of color, youth from immigrant families, and youth with disabilities.

STEP-UP helps organizations identify and nurture young talent for their industries, provides youthful energy and tech savvy in the workplace, and offers opportunities for employees to gain valuable supervisory and mentoring experience.  As STEP-UP prepares to enter its 15th summer, the program has provided over 26,000 internships since 2004, yielding tremendous benefits for young people, businesses, and our regional economy.

The strength of the STEP-UP program comes from the many program partners who have joined together to make STEP-UP a regional approach to workforce development that spans many sectors of our community.  Key program partners include the Downtown Council, the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce, the City of Minneapolis, AchieveMpls, Minneapolis Public Schools, and hundreds of employers.

To discuss how STEP-UP interns can help your business this summer, contact Matt Norris at or 612-455-1565.  Learn more about STEP-UP at

Program Highlights

  • STEP-UP is one system with two different levels of coordinated support and internship opportunities. Achieve is for students ages 16 – 21 while Discover is for ages 14 – 15.  Together, STEP-UP partners with over 200 businesses, public agencies, and nonprofits.  STEP-UP helps organizations diversify their workforce and build a strong base of young, skilled workers for the entire region while providing young people the opportunity to explore career options.
  • This will be the 15th summer of STEP-UP internships. Since its founding in 2004, STEP-UP has created over 26,000 internships.
  • All interns receive Work Readiness Training certified by the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce. This year, we are redesigning the training curriculum to make it more meaningful and engaging for the students with the goal of having interns even more prepared to step into their internships.  One example of STEP-UP’s partnership among key regional stakeholders is that interns at the Achieve level will be receiving work-based learning credit for the first time this year for their STEP-UP work-readiness training.  This will allow more students to stay on track to graduate and pursue additional internship opportunities through school.
  • The Minneapolis-St. Paul region is projected to have a shortage of 100,000 workers by 2020. STEP-UP helps to address this projected deficit.
  • Last summer, 105 interns explored their college prospects and learned the fundamentals of applying to, selecting, and financing college at STEP-UP Golden Gopher Day in partnership with the University of Minnesota.
  • In partnership with U.S. Bank, 221 interns last summer built their financial literacy competencies in banking, budgeting, and credit during Financial Education Day.

2017 Program Statistics

  • Along with the other divisions of the program, STEP-UP employed 1,653 interns. STEP-UP placed and provided ongoing coaching for 748 internships at 138 companies and organizations, primarily in the private sector, at the Achieve level.
  • The program provided nine hours of Work Readiness Training (including resume building, interview skills, workplace expectations, communication training, problem solving, and professional etiquette) to 2,077 STEP-UP Achieve and Discover youth. All those young people now have a professional resume and experience interviewing with a business professional.
  • STEP-UP interns earned $3 million in summer wages last summer—a significant contribution not only to building the future workforce but to Minneapolis’ low-income families. The portion paid by the private sector was nearly $1.7 million—an increase of over $300,000 from 2016.  Many interns use their wages to help support their families’ basic needs or pay for transportation to and from work or school and post-secondary education expenses.

2017 Intern Statistics

  • 89% of interns came from low-income families (measured by participation in the Free and Reduced Lunch program).
  • 87% of interns were youth of color.
  • 54% were first or second generation immigrants.


Program Impact

  • 94% of interns said STEP-UP prepared them to become a valuable part of the future workforce.
  • 95% of students believed their internship was a valuable learning experience.
  • 88% of interns had a workplace mentor.
  • 75% of interns report their job helped them decide what career to pursue in the future.
  • 97% of supervisors said STEP-UP Achieve was a success in their workplace.
  • 89% of supervisors said that if they had a job opening, they would consider hiring their intern as an employee.
  • Interns report the internship experience helps them eliminate their fear and doubt, build confidence, and broaden their vision for themselves.
  • Interns learn to communicate across generations, both with children and with older people. These skills help them to envision careers working with demographic populations other than their own.
  • Interns learn about what it takes to enter a certain career, including what it takes to get into college, what degrees are required in different industries, and when to slow down and pause to find what the right career is for them.
  • After STEP-UP, interns have an improved ability to envision their future selves in professional settings, plan for the future, have a greater motivation to get where they want to go, and build professional networks to provide advice and support decision making.

Program Alumni Statistics (from 2012 alumni survey)

  • 97% of alumni report that the STEP-UP Work Readiness Training has been helpful to their development as professionals.
  • 77% reported learning new skills from their STEP-UP internship.
  • 77% reported gaining confidence from their STEP-UP internship.
  • 92% say the experience had a positive influence on their career/educational path.
  • 33% have returned to work at their place of STEP-UP summer internship.

Upload a file