MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The sweet success of a job training program for teenagers in Minneapolis is growing. The Cookie Cart is setting up shop on the east side of St. Paul.
The nonprofit agency operates a bakery on West Broadway Avenue in Minneapolis that employs high school students year-round, and teaches them business management skills, but executive director Matt Halley says a lot still needs to happen to make the expansion a reality.
“Because we have been around so long, everyone in north Minneapolis seems to know about Cookie Cart,” Halley said.
Since 1988, it’s how thousands of Minneapolis teenagers have earned cash and learned how to run a business.
“Even though we bake cookies, it’s not really about baking at all,” Halley said. “Cookie Cart is about teaching life, leadership and employment skills to north Minneapolis kids.”
A few months from now, kids on the east side of St. Paul will have the same opportunity. The Cookie Cart has purchased a vacant building on Payne Avenue with the intent of opening a second storefront location, with space for a kitchen and training sessions.
There’s a huge need for youth employment opportunities in this neighborhood.
“For the last two years we’ve done pilot programming with students at Johnson High School,” Halley said. “After school they’ve been able to to come and do the classroom components of what we teach.”
The nonprofit has raised about two-thirds of the 3 point 2 million dollars needed to pay for the building and for the extensive remodeling that’s needed.
“So we are doing everything, from the roof to new plumbing and heating, and of course all the equipment that is needed in a bakery,” Halley said.
They’re still seeking monetary donations, as well as donations of industrial kitchen equipment. A groundbreaking ceremony will take place on June 29. They expect the St. Paul building will be ready for business in the spring of 2018, employing about 100 high school students a year.
If you’d like to learn more or donate to the Cookie Cart, you’ll find more information on their website.