Our goal for the new Transitional Employment Program is to teach employment skills through a course in entrepreneurship that gives youth the opportunity to create a small social enterprise with Life House. Youth are very excited about this opportunity and many look at it as a way to impact future generations of local youth. Their hope and ours, is to create a sustainable enterprise that will employ and teach employment skills to youth for many years to come.

This program is unique that it gives youth the opportunity to learn these entrepreneurial skills while safely earning money.  The program is grant-funded with support from the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation, YouthPrise Social Innovation Fund, Northland Foundation, Head of the Lakes United Way, Lloyd K Johnson Foundation, Bernick Family Foundation, and Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless.

This fall, the Transitional Employment Program (TEP) members participated in a Youth Board before official launching in January. Over the course of those few months, the TEP Youth Board laid the groundwork for Transitional Employment Program by writing a policy and procedure manual for the program. In addition, they began work on an informational video geared toward small businesses and local entrepreneurs.

In January, TEP officially launched and since then youth have begun studying entrepreneurship. A goal in the first couple weeks was for participants to study characteristics that many entrepreneurs share. Youth have spoken with a couple local business owners, completed a web-quest, and participated in several other exercises that are geared at getting youth to analyze both individual and group strengths and weaknesses when it comes to these characteristics.

Futures Education Case Manager, Amber Sadowski, describes the program: “One of the exercises participants completed was a “qualities of entrepreneurs” assessment where they ranked qualities such as competitiveness, risk-taking, and adaptability on a scale from one to ten, a ten being that they definitely possessed this quality. Afterwards, we had a good discussion about the results, with the class’s conclusion being there is strength in diversity. While not everyone ranked high in each quality, they found that as a group they are very balanced. One specific discussion, I remember was about risk-taking. Youth determined that while we definitely need our risk-takers, our more deliberate decision makers were also needed for balance.”

All of us at Life House are excited to see where this youth-driven program heads!