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  • Best Practices
  • Talent
  • 2019

Opportunity YouthMinneapolis-St. Paul


In Minneapolis-Saint Paul, a reported 7.59 percent of 16 to 24-year-olds are neither in school nor employed; an impressively low share compared to the 12.18 percent found in 17th ranked Tampa Bay.


Genesys Works envisioned a future where all youth finish high school equipped and empowered with the knowledge and skills required to achieve career success and a lifetime of economic self-sufficiency.

“We conclude that by increasing college enrollment rates and workplace experience, the Genesys Works program can help generate substantial net economic and social value for society. In a simple comparison against other student groups, the social value of the Genesys Works program is high. The Social Return on Investment is 13 to 1, i.e. $13 returned for every one-dollar invested.”
— Dr. Clive R. Belfield, Columbia University, 2019


To help address a growing need for qualified talent, as well as provide opportunities for students in underserved communities, Genesys Works, a not-for-profit in Minneapolis-Saint Paul, is providing pathways to career success for underprivileged high school students through skills training, meaningful work experiences and impactful relationships. 

What began as skills training and a year-long, paid work experience in a corporate setting has now grown to include college access support and ongoing professional networking and college internship opportunities for those students seeking out additional support in achieving their goals.

Genesys Works achieves its mission through four interlocking program components.

  • Skills Training: Students take eight weeks of skills training the summer before their senior year of high school.
  • Meaningful Internship: During their senior year, the students work 1,000 hours in a paid, year-long corporate internship.
  • College and Career Coaching: Each student receives 60 hours of counseling on college and career pathways.
  • Alumni Support: The program also offers ongoing support to help students achieve college and career success.

Genesys Works Twin Cities, which opened in 2008, was the second location for the organization that was founded in Houston in 2002. The Genesys Works Twin Cities site has seen tremendous growth during its first decade, expanding from 11 interns in work experiences at six corporate partners, to 286 interns at 58 corporate partners in 2017. 

The primary benefit of Genesys Works comes from students enrolling and completing college at a higher rate, and a greater ability to obtain meaningful employment given their internship experience. Almost all participants enroll in college, compared to approximately three-quarters of students nationally, and they complete degree programs at much higher rates. This extra postsecondary education generates long-term benefits in the form of higher incomes, lower social burdens, and faster economic growth. In addition, participants work as paid interns at local businesses and earn wages during the school year. Genesys Works also leverages resources from local businesses and volunteer groups to support the youth.

Since its inception, Genesys Works Twin Cities has served 1,397 students, 77 percent of whom are first-generation college students. Of those students, 95 percent enrolled in college and 72 percent have graduated or are still working toward a four-year degree. Alumni have reported median earnings of $45,000 to $50,000 per year.