Pillsbury United Communities, YWCA Minneapolis honored for workforce development work

February 13, 2024

Mayor Jacob Frey joined the Minneapolis Workforce Development Board and Minneapolis Employment and Training this morning to celebrate Pillsbury United Communities (PUC) and YWCA Minneapolis for their significant contributions to workforce development. Both organizations were recognized by mayoral proclamations presented by Mayor Frey at an award ceremony in City Hall.

“When we invest in our employees, our entire community benefits,” said Mayor Jacob Frey. “Building a strong and equitable workforce is a priority here in Minneapolis – and we’re so grateful to our partners who are leading and supporting us in that work. Thank you to YWCA Minneapolis and Pillsbury United Communities for empowering our residents to build valuable skill sets and excel forward in their careers.”

At this morning’s ceremony, PUC received the Outstanding Innovation award for its hair care stylist workforce development program, and YWCA Minneapolis received the Promising Practices award for its early childhood education workforce development program. Minneapolis Workforce Development Board (MWDB) and Minneapolis Employment and Training (MET) support these programs.

“The MWDB and the team at MET want to thank the Mayor and Council for the Career Pathways funding which makes these types of programs possible,” said Jonathan Weinhagen, chair of MWDB. “The City invests $1.6 million annually in training and employment supports for low-income Minneapolis workers, resulting in hundreds of newly trained workers entering the workforce and bringing millions of dollars into Minneapolis households in wages.”

PUC has partnered with the Natural Hair Care Institute on a training program that helps young people learn the skills they need to start working in natural hair styling, a field where there is high demand and limited training opportunities. Within four months, students complete training with hands-on experience and receive a vocational certificate from the Office of Higher Education.

YWCA Minneapolis’ early childhood education (ECE) teacher workforce development program helps low-income and diverse populations gain employment in the ECE field. Participants in this six-month program gain foundational employment skills and safety training in addition to support in obtaining a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential, qualifying them to work as early childhood teachers.

“The two programs we are recognizing here today, along with dozens of other career pathways programs running across our city, bring access and opportunity to areas of poverty and high unemployment,” said MWDB Vice Chairperson Dr. Tara Watson. “These programs help residents start down a pathway to career success, leading to greater family stability and economic mobility.” 

The Minneapolis Workforce Development Board (MWDB) is one of Minnesota’s 16 local workforce boards. The MWDB guides the design of local workforce development in the City of Minneapolis, and oversees CareerForce Minneapolis North, CareerForce Minneapolis South, and the Cedar Riverside Opportunity Center. MET is the administrative team to MWDB.

“Partnerships with the government are rare,” said PUC President and CEO Cinnamon Pelly. “However, working closely with the team at Minneapolis Employment and Training, we were able to respond to the needs and career dreams of our participants, and fully support these young adults as they pursue their professional passions.”

Stephanie Thomas, vice president, early childhood education, accepted the Promising Practices award on behalf of YWCA Minneapolis.

“Since 2016, we’ve tailored the YWCA Minneapolis teacher training program in ways that prioritize the voices and experiences of educators involved in the daily work of caring for young children – one of the most important jobs there is,” Thomas said.