Summit Academy OIC is an accredited vocational school located in North Minneapolis with a fifty year history of working in this community. We believe that the best social service program in the world is a job.
We offer accredited training programs at no cost to students, and with no further debt and loans. These offerings include 20-week certifications in a variety of construction and healthcare training programs. Initially, upon enrollment, our typical student earns $5,640 per year and 59% are unemployed. After graduation, our alumni average wages are $30,950 annually—after just 20 weeks of training. We help low income adults in the Twin Cities transition from poverty and dependency to self-sufficiency.
Summit Academy OIC is effective because:
- We offer accredited credentials.
- We connect low income people with living-wage jobs.
- We have strong accountability systems.
- We have a strong fundraising record.
- We have deep ties to and are based in our community.
Summit was established in 1996, as a result of a merger between Twin Cities OIC and the Two or More organization—two well-established job training and placement non-profit entities. Summit Academy OIC is part of a national network of Opportunity Industrialization Centers (OICs) that prepare low income people of color for the workforce.
The Emerging Workforce
The opportunities for the incorporation of minorities and women into the workforce could not be greater in our region. In the next five years, retirements across a variety of key industries in skilled trades will become acute. 620,000 job vacancies will occur by 2020 as baby boomers exit the workforce. These include industry sectors in which Summit Academy provides training. The new emerging workforce will consist primarily of people of color who will replace those retiring in order to maintain a regional quality of life and stability.
However, this emerging workforce is currently ill prepared to replace its predecessors. Approximately half of this population is dropping out of high school, with 49% of African Americans failing to graduate from high school. The General Equivalency Diploma (GED) is now more rigorous, more costly to obtain, and therefore more inaccessible.
The current system for workforce training fails to provide training that directly responds to the demands of employers. Occupational skills training is limited, expensive and again inaccessible. Therefore the population which needs opportunity the most and who will increasingly make up our state’s workforce has extremely limited opportunities to enter the economic mainstream and become self-sufficient. Existing social support policies tend to minimize the utilization of talent from this population, rather than maximize it.
Our challenge and intention is to expand the pipeline for the minority communities that we have historically served. Key parts of this population we will serve will include adults lacking a GED, clients who would otherwise fail our entrance requirements, welfare recipients, and re-entry populations.
We are faced with the daunting challenge of developing a new workforce system for the 21st century. We cannot address this challenge only as a school. We must pursue a systems change agenda that will allow us to grow as both a school and a social enterprise.