Posts Tagged ‘ St. Paul ’

U7 Newsletter Debuts

We present to you U7’s Quarterly Newsletter! Our first edition!
We hope to keep all of our colleagues, partners, small businesses owners, business supporters, and the general public abreast of the small business support services we provide and how the project is progressing. Each quarter, the newsletter will be highlighting a Central Corridor small business owner and providing small business tips, advice and resources.

This is our way of showing our appreciation for your continued support of the small businesses that dot the Central Corridor Light Rail Transit Line.
If you have any ideas of a business to highlight, information you want to know more about, or have business tips or advice to share that we can add to future editions, please drop us a line.
Sia Lo, U7 Small Business Consultant, was the lead on the creation of the U7 Newsletter and with Steve Olson’s assistance (U7’s Graphic Designer), they have provided us (and you) with a great first edition.
We would also like to take the opportunity to thank our funders: Central Corridor Funders Collaborative, St. Paul Foundation, Bigelow Foundation, City of St. Paul STAR Program, and Federal Funds provided through Congresswoman Betty McCollum. The majority of our funders have supported the U7 project since April 2009, and due to their early support we have been able to get U7 services on the ground a whole two years before construction begins on University and Washington Avenues. THANK YOU!
Find out more about U7 here.


Shop with Cops

Celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Shop with Cops! We started out in 2000 with 50 kids and 15 officers. Last year we served 213 kids with 107 officers. We are growing and we need your help to serve more children!

Volunteers are a vital component to the success of the Shop with Cops program. Coordination of the program is done by volunteers, which allows all financial support to directly benefit the participants of the program. Learn more about how you can help on Saturday, December 4.

Harvest Festival

Harvest Festival

On Saturday, October 23, residents and volunteers gathered at the Rondo Victoria Peace Garden, located at Concordia Avenue and Victoria Street, to celebrate the hard work they did this summer on the new community garden. There were pumpkins to be carved, cider to be sipped, and plans to be discussed on this quiet fall day.

In June, the garden first opened with a peace pole dedication as the kick-off to Aurora/St. Anthony NDC’s Summer of Peace celebrations. On Saturday, the garden was put to bed as folks cleaned, raked and prepared for the future. This ending also was a beginning as the group planted garlic sent to St. Paul from AfroEco — a group out of Detroit, Mich., focusing on urban community gardens. The bulbs that had traveled all the way from the Motor City were aptly named Motown Garlic.

All summer long, the owners of the lot had asked residents the question, “How would you use the space?” The top answers were revealed at the Harvest Festival and included:

  • Meditating/thinking
  • Vegetable garden
  • Flower garden
  • Neighborhood events

Future conceptual plans were also shared for the garden, with landscape design ideas including mixed planting beds, apple, cherry and plum trees, plus a sitting area with benches.

With the burst in popularity of community gardens — a wonderful way to bring residents together — the Rondo Victoria Peace Garden is a very welcome addition to the neighborhood. It will be very exciting to see what the future holds.

Check out the other photos from the Harvest Festival in our Flickr photostream here:

Brewing Enterprise

Rondo Cafe rendering

Rondo Cafe rendering by Leetta Douglas

Rondo’s Coffee Café is the name of the new coffee shop that will be making its home in on the first floor of the Frogtown Square project at University and Dale in St. Paul.

The idea of having a coffee shop at this busy corner came from two women who grew up in the neighborhood and now work with Aurora/St. Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation. Executive Director Nieeta Presley and Board Chair Leetta Douglas also share something else in common: They both love their coffee.

Both women are also highly passionate about their neighborhood and don’t want the history of Rondo to be forgotten. In that hope they are planning to develop the coffee shop as a history lesson for visitors and walk down memory lane for locals. With few coffee shops in the area, the vision of one that the locals can call their own, and a gathering place for the seniors taking up residence in Frogtown Square, seems to make sense.

Helping Presley and Douglas get the shop up and running is Golden Thyme’s owner, Mychael Wright. Golden Thyme is a coffee shop and neighborhood gathering place on Selby Avenue. Wright has the experience and connections they are looking for to get it off the ground. The women are also looking forward to creating a few more jobs in the neighborhood.

Frogtown Square is a mixed-use development, combining commercial and residential spaces for seniors. Greater Frogtown CDC, Model Cities, Neighborhood Development Center and Aurora/Saint Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation have partnered on the project. The work at this important intersection, including the adjacent Rondo Community Library, has been funded in part by Twin Cities Local Initiatives Support Corporation, which has made a two-decade commitment to the neighborhood.
Fundraising has started for the inside décor for Rondo’s Coffee Café, with the dream of this being a place people come to either learn about Rondo or remember Rondo.

That’s where the organizers need your help. You can name a coffee, decorate a table with old photos, or have photos mounted on the 14-foot walls. The displays will tell the story of how Rondo used to be and bring back sweet memories to those who gather there over a cup of coffee and to reminisce.

“This will be a community coffee shop, and we are working to build community ownership of it,” Presley said.

To find out more about how to get involved with this project, check out Aurora/St. Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation’s website, or call 651-222-0399, ext. 100.

Toni Carter

Toni Carter

Ramsey County Commissioner Toni Carter

In 1971, Toni Carter moved to Northfield, Minn. to attend Carleton College — a liberal arts school located near the Twin Cities. Upon graduating, she moved to St. Paul, where she became an active member in the community.

“As a young person coming here from Carleton, I was active in a lot of ways,” Carter said of her beginnings, “I was an artist and a performer who became very involved with theatre.”

Upon entering her mid-twenties, however, her lifestyle began to shift. “My activities changed as I grew up and had children,” Carter said, “and I became involved with business and the community in a much deeper way.” Now, after more than 30 years of service to Ramsey County, this deep involvement has not gone unnoticed.

Carter is currently the Commissioner of District 4 in Ramsey County and has been since 2005. In the years since her term began, the Commissioner has dedicated herself to a variety of issues and hopes to continue doing so through re-election in November.

One of the Commissioner’s top priorities is the Central Corridor Light Rail Transit line — the transportation corridor that will link downtown St. Paul and downtown Minneapolis. While the construction continues on this project, the Commissioner plans to focus on support for local businesses and neighborhoods, and resolve outstanding issues such as parking.

“The Light Rail Transit is really good for a number of reasons,” the Commissioner said. “We know for sure that it will create jobs — at least for a period of time.”

Other county projects that will allow for job expansion include the restoration of the Roseville Library and the creation of new buildings around the city. “We hope to have a continual flow of work in order to ensure jobs for years to come,” she said, “we want to create living wages for the people in our community.”

The Central Corridor Light Rail will also create new opportunities for quality, affordable housing — a change that can already be seen in many areas of the community. “People can see the structures being built and they get amped up because of it,” she said.

The Commissioner believes that new jobs and more housing will have a positive effect on youth in the community. “Making jobs available is key to creating a vibrant home environment,” she said. “We need to work together in order to provide the best for our children.”

One program the Commissioner uses to reach youth is the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative — a systems reform that reduces the number of detained youth in detention centers in Ramsey County. Since 2005, the number of detained youth has decreased by 70 percent. The Commissioner plans to continue building support and spreading the initiative statewide.

Along with her duties as Commissioner of District 4, Carter also serves as chair of the Association of Minnesota Counties Human Services Policy Committee, and of Ramsey County’s Legislative, Human Services and Workforce, and Juvenile Detention Alternatives Stakeholder Committees. Commissioner Carter also serves on the leadership teams of Ramsey County’s Workforce Investment Board, the Saint Paul Children’s Collaborative and the Ramsey County Children’s Mental Health Collaborative.

Twin Cities RISE!

Twin Cities RISE! St. Paul location

Twin Cities RISE! St. Paul location

About Twin cities RISE!

460 Lexington Parkway N., Saint Paul
(651) 603-0295

Open House

Twin Cities RISE! will host an open house in St. Paul Nov. 4 from 3 to 6 p.m.

As a result of extreme poverty and negative self-image, many struggle to find suitable employment. Since 1994, Twin Cities RISE! has helped to end the cycle of failure for individuals lacking education, resources and self-esteem, especially those battling with criminal histories or patterns of substance abuse. The belief at RISE! is that every person deserves a chance to soar. With a program that is free for participants, RISE! trains clients in job skills, helps them get GEDs, and places them in internships in the areas of office support, warehouse operations, and construction, with the goal of achieving permanent job placement.

Where RISE! differs from other job training programs is its focus — not strictly based on technical or “hard” skills, this program is rooted on teaching empowerment, meaning the cultivation of the “soft” skills of self-esteem, respect for self and others. Participants work one-on-one with a coach, learning skills for permanent placement in a career that pays living wages, benefits and offers opportunities for advancement. The goals are set by the clients, who learn they control their own destiny.

We spoke with both Shelly Jacobson, Chief Operating Officer, and Cynthia Micolichek, Director of Human Resources and Special Projects. Jacobson said the biggest challenge has been the time and commitment it takes to complete the program. “When you are hungry and need a job, you need a job. It is a real commitment to wait six, eight, or 18 months [clients choose from several options]. We do encourage participants to work part-time and offer day and evening classes for this reason. But people get nervous and scared,” she said. To make the program more accessible, RISE! partners with other agencies to deal with issues of transportation, childcare, housing, health and psychological care. “We want to bring positive things and be an anchor to help the community thrive,” added Micolichek.

RISE! serves those facing many obstacles with 58 percent of their clients having a criminal history. Many of the women have come from abusive relationships and are single parents. But the success rate has been astonishing with 82 percent of graduates still holding their jobs after one year, and 72 percent after two years. Graduates of the program also have an extremely low recidivism rate of 12 percent — compared to the national average of 61 percent. Even with the recent layoffs and economic downturn, RISE! steadily placed graduates in jobs in 2009 and 2010 with an average yearly income of $24,488.

“We strive to develop leaders in the community and in the marketplace. The graduates really stand out — we look for problem solvers, team players, people who seek solutions and have internal reflection,” said Jacobson. The most rewarding moment, both women agreed, is when a client achieves final job placement — a large bell rings in the hallway at RISE! to mark the occasion. “Everyone stops what they are doing and goes to celebrate,” said Jacobson, “and that is the most satisfying moment.”

Brotherhood Inc.


Nekima Levy-Pounds at Brotherhood Inc. gathering

The hustle and bustle on University Ave. on a Friday afternoon this summer was nothing compared to the buzz going on inside the Aurora St. Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation. The office was hosting University of St. Thomas associate law professor Nekima Levy-Pounds and the new local anti-gang initiative she is spearheading in the community.

Levy-Pounds, along with four University of St. Thomas law students and law clinic fellow Artika Tyner, is proposing a center in St. Paul devoted to serving African-American youth. The facility would act as a one-stop shop for social services and business enterprises that keep young people out of gangs. They are calling the initiative, Brotherhood Inc., and are targeting youth who have been involved in gangs or criminal activity who want to make positive changes in their lives.

The project is modeled after Los Angeles-based Homeboy Industries. The St. Paul initiative has named the project Brotherhood, Inc. with “Creating Change, Transforming Lives” as its tagline. Their mission statement is just as enterprising, setting forth the goal “To enable African-American youth and young adults to envision and achieve successful futures.”
Behind the press releases, community meetings and mission statement is a real energy to get things done. UST Law’s Community Justice Project, led by Levy-Pounds, is taking a leading role in making Brotherhood Inc. a reality. Tyner and Levy-Pounds have been moved by the gang activity, educational achievement gap and high incarceration rates that plague African-Americans in St. Paul.

“It has been an awakening for me, and I now have to bring the students along,” Tyner explains. She puts stock in the unique family feel that Brotherhood Inc. is designed to create. After learning about the commitment and connection among the people at Homeboy Industries, Tyner knew the same model could make a huge impact in St. Paul.
Levy-Pounds visited Homeboy Industries in 2007, and came back with a vision of starting something similar in St. Paul. Tyner said Levy-Pounds’s enthusiasm was infectious and got her to start looking at issues in the St. Paul community.

Getting dedicated students from the CJES program was an important part of creating the momentum this project needs to get off the ground.

“We don’t teach students just to ‘think like lawyers,’” Levy-Pounds emphasizes. “I think that is a shallow definition of legal education.”

Tyner and Levy-Pounds use the classroom to get to the bottom of race and class issues that affect disenfranchised youth.

Tyner explains that instead of being overwhelmed into inaction by these large social questions, “with these students, we can change the world.”

ASANDC has been an outspoken supporter of the Brotherhood Inc. project. Executive Director Nieeta Presley says that with focused action from diverse members of the St. Paul community, Brotherhood Inc. can be a reality sooner rather than later.