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Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development Supports Phyllis Wheatley Community Center with a Tech Training Competitive Grant

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DEED Grant

Department of Employment and Economic Development Supports Phyllis Wheatley Community Center with a Tech Training Competitive Grant




The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) announced the Minnesota Tech Training Pilot Program Competitive Grant award recipients, who were selected for their innovative approaches to diversifying the tech sector in Minnesota. In 2019, according to the American Community Survey, only 4% of the tech jobs in Minnesota were held by Black individuals, and only 7% by Hispanic individuals. The pilot program was designed to address the racial disparities in employment as a result of structural disadvantages that students who are Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) face as they seek education.

And the department continues a pathway to rebuild and recover after the pandemic and racial reckoning of 2020, DEED is focused on targeting resources and services to the communities hit the hardest. The pilot programs will train young adults ages 18 to 30 who are BIPOC individuals in technology career pathways and place them in permanent employment at a family-sustaining wage.

"I am thrilled that this new program will engage young, creative BIPOC Minnesotans in tech career pathways," said DEED Commissioner Steve Grove. "This program will provide both skills and mentorship for young Minnesotans to experience hands-on training that can lead to high-quality and family-wage-sustaining jobs."

The pilot program was created intentionally to give organizations the flexibility to design a framework and training program that would include: mentorship, paid work experience, on-the-job training, incumbent worker training, and tech skills training. Participating programs must also include partnerships with employers, career and education navigation, work readiness, job placement, and support services.

Award recipients will reach young people who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color across the state of Minnesota, with a mix of online and in-person training opportunities that best match the needs of the job seekers and the employers in their communities.

Phyllis Wheatley Community Center – $215,468

Phyllis Wheatley Community Center (PWCC) has served the North Minneapolis community since 1924 and, with the award from the Minnesota Tech Training Pilot Program, they will provide navigation, training and support to approximately 100 BIPOC students. Students will receive training in a variety of Microsoft Azure programs, resulting in certification. Students will have access to internships and direct job placement with committed business partners Comcast-Twin Cities and Medtronic. Phyllis Wheatley Community Center believes that the key to an inclusive recovery will be to provide digital skills to people hardest hit by job losses in the greater Minneapolis community, including people with lower incomes, women, and underrepresented groups.

“The Phyllis Wheatley Community Center (PWCC) is proud to be one of four recipients in the state to receive the grant funds this round,” said PWCC Executive Director Suzanne Burks. “This funding support has become a game changer for our new Digital Tech Works Academy™, and the impact will support our ability to present innovative changes as we undertake this transformation, we will begin to address the inequitable representation of women and young adults who are BIPOC’s in high-paying tech jobs in our region and present innovative systems change between nonprofits and corporations. Lastly, results we want to see: 1) eliminate racial disparity in high-paying tech jobs in Minnesota, 2) provide advancement for women to earn an equitable sustaining salary, 3) address unemployment of our young people by training them in career tech jobs and thereby decrease crime and imprisonment, 4) increase economic prosperity, and 5) forge an innovative economic inclusion system’s change model that can be celebrated and replicated.”



About Phyllis Wheatley Community Center
Phyllis Wheatley Community Center (PWCC) has proudly served the Minneapolis Community since 1924 with a mission to provide comprehensive quality programs in life-long learning, child development, and family support to the diverse greater Twin Cities community. PWCC was the first agency in the Twin Cities committed to meeting the human service needs of a growing African American community. For many Blacks, PWCC was a safe port in the midst of a racially segregated city. Today, PWCC programs address the needs of children, youth, and families by providing child development, family support, and innovative workforce development programming for the greater Minneapolis community.  PWCC’s focus is on building upon a rich legacy of community building with a focus on addressing wealth, opportunity, and achievement gaps in the African American community. PWCC will celebrate its 100th year anniversary in 2024. For more information, visit:

About Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED)

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) is the state's principal economic development agency. DEED programs promote business recruitment, expansion, and retention; international trade; workforce development; and community development. DEED facilitates an economic environment to produce jobs and improve the quality of the state’s workforce.

DEED media contact: DEED Communications Office at 651-259-7161



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