A Time For Focus & Renewal

The Cookie Cart staff had the incredible opportunity and privilege to hold an all-staff retreat on January 23rd and 24th in Minneapolis at The Depot Hotel for a time of connection and attention on the year ahead. After a year of transition, both in leadership and in bakery programming, it was essential for our teams to come together in a focused environment and level set as we look ahead to the most ‘normal’ year since programming and operations were disrupted in March of 2020.

Our Executive Director, Cynthia Fraction, put together a packed agenda with the theme ‘One Cookie Cart’ that included deep dives into our history, the work of each team within Cookie Cart, and how we can best help each other succeed while we all strive to fulfill the mission of the organization. The young people that Cookie Cart serves remained top of mind as we peered into the future of workplace training, experiential learning, and the evolving culture these youth experience. As their needs evolve, so must the strategies and outreach of our staff teams adapt to make sure what we do is effective and impactful.

One of the exercises our teams went through together was to put together a list of things we need to let go of, things we need to preserve, and things we need to add. It was an open-ended invitation to think through past barriers, internal struggles, collective successes, and organizational opportunities in a way that helped us all prioritize a forward-thinking mindset that focused on what is working at Cookie Cart and what we want to add to our efforts to make youth experience have an even greater impact.

A constant theme when discussing what we need to keep became clear: keep the focus on young people and improving their experience at Cookie Cart. It was a unifying message for our team to connect on as we all keep the mission in mind in our work, whether we process time sheets, package cookies, lead bakery staff, or put together fundraising events.

Every great team has a point at which everything comes together and their progress from that point is a real marvel. The ‘One Cookie Cart’ retreat was that moment for the Cookie Cart team, and we hope you all see the effects of our time together as we work cohesively, efficiently, and compassionately together as one with a laser focus on baking bright futures for each young person that steps into our bakeries.