At Cookie Cart, we consider our youth programming to be a transitional space for young people. It is a space between school and home where program participants and crew members can come to feel safe, engage with challenges, and develop new skills that they can apply to their daily lives and help them succeed. As we work to empower youth to take responsibility, advocate for themselves, and explore their leadership potential, we know we are helping equip them with skills that will result in a more smooth transition from high school to further schooling or into the workforce full-time.
However, because our bakeries function during regular business hours when young people are in school, we saw an opportunity to work with another transitional group of people that could staff our daytime hours. In Minneapolis, that means partnering with Transitions Plus and in Saint Paul, we work alongside Focus Beyond. These two programs are part of the public school systems in each city and operate to meet the needs of students with differing educational abilities & assets that are past high school age and transitioning into adult life.
Both of these programs focus on empowering their students with transitional support in three key areas: post-secondary education, employment, and independent living. The employment piece is where Cookie Cart comes in. Our bakery team in Minneapolis and Saint Paul work with Transitions Plus and Focus Beyond staff members to make sure that their student employees have adequate support in the day’s tasks. From production to order fulfillment, each student employee plays a critical role in the Cookie Cart story.
While working with high school-age youth through our core programming remains the center of our mission, our partnership with Focus Beyond and Transitions Plus supports our bakeries with approximately 100 hours of additional paid labor each week. Currently, we employ 12 students in these two programs and have had nothing but incredible experiences! We’re excited to introduce you to another flavor of the Cookie Cart story and are looking forward to sharing more from this work at both sites.
Below are two photos from our Minneapolis bakery with a few of the latest student employees in the Transitions Plus program who ‘graduated’ from the team before a new crew came in late January.