Ali is 15 years old and is an outstanding salesperson. This fall at a local art festival he sold 400 bags of cookies in three hours by himself. He knows how to connect with a customer: he asks about their day, he thanks everyone and invites them to Cookie Cart, always saying, “If you come by, ask for me.”
Cookie Cart has given Ali a positive and safe place to put his charisma into action. This is a critical opportunity for Ali, and hundreds of teens like him, because without a positive first job experience, young people living in the Twin Cities’ lowest income neighborhoods face barriers in employment as adults. They are often pulled into a negative path that has dangerous and lasting consequences.
Ali decided to make different choices in his life. As a young black man in Chicago, it didn’t seem like Ali would have a chance to succeed. In December 2015, he was put on a bus to live with his aunt in Minneapolis, in hopes that he would have a better future. Ali explained, “In Chicago, teens don’t get opportunities to work; they only hire people who have a high school diploma. But Cookie Cart gave me a chance right away.”
In his year at Cookie Cart, Ali has been promoted to Cart Captain, passed all three sections of the National Career Readiness Certification, attended financial literacy workshops, participated in leadership training, taken part in ten community events and two workplace visits, and has shown tremendous growth through all these experiences.
Without donors like you, Ali’s path might have been very different. “Back in Chicago, I wasn’t so good at positive leadership. Cookie Cart has taught me to be responsible and respectful. I’m more ambitious about my future because of this job.”
Your donation supports hundreds of teens like Ali as they become leaders. Now more than ever, we need to cultivate the next generation of leaders. With your support, we will hire 200 teenagers like Ali and provide them with their first paid job experience, that will set them up for success in career and education, by giving them the critical leadership, interpersonal, and work skills they need.
Please consider making a gift of any amount before December 31 to help us reach our goal of engaging 200 Twin Cities teens in Cookie Cart’s proven youth employment and skill development program.