Image for Positive Change Donations Have a Huge Impact

This past May, our monthly Positive Change recipient was Urban Roots, a nonprofit that empowers youth on Saint Paul’s East Side through nature, healthy food, and community. Funds donated in May at co-op registers by member-owners, shoppers, and staff supported their paid summer internship programs and increased their capacity to serve young people. In honor of our 40th anniversary, co-op member-owners chose Urban Roots from a group of three nonprofit partners to receive a 40% co-op funded Positive Change match. With the 40% match, we collectively raised $18,646 to support Urban Roots’ food and environmental programs.

On Wednesday, October 23rd, Urban Roots staff and interns will serve as keynote speakers at our Annual Meeting & Celebration. At the event, their locally grown produce will be featured in both an appetizer and a special local, organic craft beer made by Bang Brewing. Don’t miss your chance to hear their inspiring stories first hand while enjoying these delicious food and drinks.

Read on to learn how your Positive Change donations in May had a huge impact in our local community. Presented by Summer Badawi, Urban Roots Marketing & Events Director.

The Urban Roots summer internship program runs for nine weeks in the summer. High school interns spend eight weeks learning a specific set of job skills relevant to their program and perform their work as part of a team. In the middle of this nine-week course, interns spend two nights at a summer camp exploring nature through camping, hiking, and canoeing, and doing team-building activities. Market Garden program interns grow vegetables, herbs, and fruit on six garden sites located on Saint Paul’s East Side. There are 18 Market Garden interns who work all their hours in the gardens, and 11 Cook Fresh interns who work in the garden once per week. The majority of food grown in the summer weeks is distributed through a 40 member, 10-week-long CSA program. The weekly CSA share consists of  vegetables, herbs, and fruit harvested each week by Urban Roots’ interns. The CSA model includes pre-packed boxes of fresh grown produce and a self-serve pick-up at Mississippi Market’s East 7th store.

Wrapping up our 50th year as a non-profit, Urban Roots continues evolving to better meet the needs of our community, embracing a philosophy of collaboration and partnership, maintaining an entrepreneurial spirit, and continually sharpening our lens to confront social, economic, and racial disparities. This summer, we hired 65 youth across our three programs: Conservation, Market Garden, and Cook Fresh. This past summer, we engaged over 5,900 students and community members in service learning, volunteer activities, tours, and events. We hired five intern alumni, now in college, as full-time, seasonal staff. They gained new leadership skills while mentoring new interns in work skills. 96% of the interns are youth of color, and our goal is to have our management reflect the youth we engage; we see the alumni positions as a possible route for that advancement. We also shifted our enrichment sessions to an active citizen curriculum for returning interns, giving increased voice to topics relevant to their experiences. New youth received training in employment skills and all youth participated in career day, engaging with professionals in a panel, and then ‘speed-interviewing’ for careers they were most interested in. Thank you for supporting Urban Roots’ work!