I learned I am complex … I am ambitious.
I am smart … I am beautiful and kind.
But most of all … I am me.
This is something I don’t wonder about.
This is the one thing I am sure of.
I am me and no matter where I came from…
I was born to be great.

Created by Simone
Cookie Cart youth participant

Experiential Learning

Bakery Program

In this hands-on, job-training program, we teach essential employment skills to every teen coming through the Cookie Cart kitchen. Our Bakery Program takes a creative, engaged teaching approach to equip teens with fundamental job skills including:

  • responsibility to manage their work schedule and themselves with appropriate workplace behavior and language
  • collaboration to take direction from managers and work together with peers
  • initiative to complete tasks and problem solve

Young people who show responsibility and initiative are promoted to Cart Captain. In this role they take leadership in directing youth employee teams, training new youth employees and managing work assignments.

Classroom Learning


The lessons in Foundations focus on helping new Cookie Cart recruits understand and develop the skills they need to be successful on the job. This includes relatively functional competencies such as safety, hygiene and basic employee rights and responsibilities, and more nuanced topics such as communication with supervisors and peers, dealing with conflict, and character building. At the facilitators’ discretion, youth may also begin training in sales, marketing and customer service during this time.


Once participants have successfully completed the Foundations lessons, they move on to Leadership. For some youth these lessons will culminate in being promoted to Cart Captain. The focus is on critical thinking, becoming a peer leader and mentor, resolving conflicts with others and between others, and more advance communication, including sales, marketing, and customer service.

Bright Futures

These lessons prepare young people to transition out of their positions at Cookie Cart and into a next job. Youth are encouraged to think about and explore possibilities, and look for jobs that are a good fit for their interests, skills, strengths, goals and values. Each lesson walks participants through a part of the job seeking process (searching, applying, interviewing, follow-up) using real-life examples and role plays. This phase culminates with a celebration of all that they have worked on and accomplished.

Financial Literacy

Around every corner teens are facing important financial decisions, yet surveys show that many teens lack everyday economic and financial knowledge. For that very reason, Cookie Cart has partnered with local financial institutions to develop a hands-on curriculum that covers the essential building blocks of personal finance. Our teen employees receive invaluable life training on:

  • budgeting and saving
  • checking accounts
  • credit and credit cards

Credential Learning

National Career Readiness Certification

At Cookie Cart we are proud to offer our teens the chance to take the National Career Readiness Certification (NCRC). This is a certification issued by ACT showing prospective employers that a teen has the foundational skills necessary to be successful in the workplace. The test measures skills employers believe are essential to job success:

  • applied math
  • reading for information
  • locating information

Earning the NCRC is not easy. Youth employees prepare for the assessment with online curriculum and practice exams for over 10 weeks. Our program staff, with help from community volunteers, provides additional support for our teens through facilitating small group discussions as well as meeting one-to-one with students.

ServSafe Food Handler Certification

Cookie Cart began offering ServSafe as a certification option in 2015 thanks to our community partner at Pillsbury Community’s Waite House and East Side Neighborhood Services. The certification meets standards set by the Minnesota Department of Health, and shows prospective employers in the restaurant industry that youth staff have received food safety training in the areas of:

  • personal hygiene
  • allergens
  • time and temperature control
  • cross-contamination
  • cleaning and sanitation