• Engage Leaders: Career Solutions Awarded Youth at Work Grant
  • Grow Business: Apply Today: Main Street COVID Relief Grant – applications due September 29
  • Expand Talent: EPIC growing bigger, better & broader in 2022
  • Shape Tomorrow: Write on Race – St. Cloud community anti-racism training
  • Insights and Inspirations: Hispanic Heritage Month

Engage Leaders: Career Solutions Awarded Youth at Work Grant

Career Solutions was recently awarded a $75,000 Youth at Work grant for the fourth year in a row from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

What sets Youth at Work apart is its foundation in community service. Through projects that improve our region, youth aged 14 and 15 will prepare for success at work before they get their first job. At the same time, Career Solutions will support them in their education and help them to discern their long-term career goals while emphasizing positive behavior and community service.

Youth at Work is an experiential learning opportunity starting with career exploration activities to help identify careers of interest, then ‘testing them out’ through paid work experiences. A Career Planner helps youth develop work readiness skills include world-of-work awareness, career planning and decision making, job search techniques, survival/daily living skills, positive work habits, attitudes, and behaviors. Students enter work experiences understanding punctuality, regular attendance and professional appearance. Soft skills are taught such as initiative and reliability, acceptance of constructive feedback, motivation and adaptability, and effective coping and problem-solving skills.

Another potential benefit to participating is some school districts will allow students to receive academic credit for completing a 40-hour work experience and 10 hours of volunteering. These activities, both in and out of school, may include career events, tours, job shadowing, mentoring, work experiences and internships.

The idea of community service is sometimes an entirely new concept to youth, and many who are familiar with it have never actually done it. The experience is meaningful and memorable for everyone. This past summer, students worked for YES Network to support the Summer Food Program and neighborhood enrichment activities (https://yesnetworkmn.org/neighborhood-enrichment-activities/)  in various neighborhoods throughout St. Cloud and received leadership training from Jerry Sparby prior to starting their work experience.

Career Solutions is always interested in creating new work experience opportunities for participants ages 14-24 who are enrolled in Youth at Work and other youth programs including CareerONE. To learn more and discuss further, please contact Tammy Biery at 320-266-5060.

Learn more about the Youth at Work program here: https://careersolutionsjobs.org/job-seekers/youth-programs/youth-at-work/

Grow Business

Apply Today: Main Street COVID Relief Grant – applications due September 29

The application is now open for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development’s (DEED) Main Street COVID Relief Grants program. A total $64,200,000 is available for grant applications selected for consideration through a computer-generated, randomized selection process.

This program will make available $10,000 – $25,000 grants to Minnesotan owned and operated businesses that can demonstrate financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Grant funds received by individual businesses shall be used for working capital to support payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments, utility bills, and other similar expenses.

Applicants who have not received assistance through previous relief programs will be prioritized for consideration. These programs include the Small Business Emergency Loan program, the Small Business Relief Grant Program, the Movie Theater and Convention Center Relief Grant program, and the County Relief Grant program.

The Initiative Foundation is an administrative partner in this process and will fulfill eligible Central Minnesota grant applications once all requirements have been met. Applicants have until midnight on Sept. 29 to apply and be considered for a grant.


Expand Talent

EPIC Growing Bigger, Better & Broader in 2022


Exploring Potential Interests and Careers (EPIC) is a Hands-On Career Exploration Event supported through a Community-wide Collaboration.

Our goal is to create a high-quality career exploration annual event that effectively bridges education and industry for high school students in Central Minnesota, contributing to the fulfillment of the economic and workforce needs of the greater Central MN region.

Twenty- nine area high schools will be given the opportunity to provide hands on career exploration to their students through activities and conversation provided by our local employers and community leaders in a fun and engaging format.

In addition to our hands on career exploration day serving 5000 high school students, we are adding the following in 2022:

  • EPIC for Influencers – career education opportunity for anyone that influences our future workforce or simply wants to learn more from our industry leaders about any career field.
  • EPIC Career Explore/Education Posts – hands on follow up experiences onsite with local employers deepening understanding of career path and opportunities available.
  • EPIC Maker Space Kits – detailed materials providing information and contacts for each career field available for check out at our Great River Regional Library.

To help us do this great work, we are hiring a Career Exploration Coordinator to be employed by Boy Scouts working directly with our EPIC Board of Directors.  Please share this opportunity widely with your networks. Interested applicants apply here: https://www.stcloudshines.com/jobs/?s=Career+Exploration

How can you join in the fun?

  • Join a career cluster participating to showcase your industry through activities and engaging conversation
  • Become an EPIC sponsor https://epicmn.wpengine.com/sponsorship/
  • Join a planning committee
  • Volunteer on EPIC Day

To learn more visit https://epic-mn.com/

To support the work of EPIC with time, talent, or treasure, contact EPIC Event Facilitator Gail Cruikshank



Shape Tomorrow

Write on Race – St. Cloud community anti-racism training

The Minnesota Humanities Center and Love & Struggle are partnering to help regional hubs develop action plans to create a more just society. Using the WRITE on RACE to be RIGHT on RACE™ framework participants will learn about past, present, and future impacts of race in our communities. Reflect through journal writing and build understanding with your community members by storytelling and sharing. Develop action plans to move your community from passive non-racism to active anti-racism.

This program seeks to:

  • Builds greater awareness of the construct of race,
  • Brings clarity around the deep intentionality of race to create inequities,
  • Strengthens one’s commitment to racial justice and anti-racist existences,
  • Increases participants’ knowledge of race, racism, anti-Blackness and its many iterations in our society,
  • Improve participants’ capacity to have racially-conscious and race-centered dialogue, relationships, and communities, and
  • Allows for the development of anti-racist action plans for their community.


This program, in partnership with Promise Neighborhood, Too Much Talent and Unite Cloud, will run from October 7, 2021 to March 2022. There will be one session a month. Register here or click here to learn more.

“Write on Race to be Right on Race was well-researched, engaging, and intense.  The facilitators are outstanding in their ability to invite folks into challenging conversations while still being clear about what they’re hoping to achieve.” ~Brandyn Woodard



Insights & Inspirations

Hispanic Heritage Month

September 15 – October 15 marks Hispanic Heritage Month. September 15 was chosen as many countries celebrate their independence on this day – Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, while Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence on September 16 and 18, respectively.

Curious about more history of Hispanic Heritage Month? Read this opinion piece by NPR.





Contact Our Staff Team

Patti Gartland, President
pgartland@greaterstcloud.com | 320-260-2442

Leslie Dingmann, Business Development Director
ldingmann@greaterstcloud.com | 320-493-9003

Gail Cruikshank, Talent Director 
gcruikshank@greaterstcloud.com | 320-260-6775

Amelia Barkley, Communications & Program Specialist 
abarkley@greaterstcloud.com | 320-292-9296