Building Community and the Workforce with Twin Cities RISE!


​For many years Opus has been working with Twin Cities RISE! (TCR!) to help the organization provide job training to individuals facing barriers to long-term employment success. Keith Bednarowski, a long-time Opus executive and TCR! board member and supporter, first introduced me to the organization. As I’ve served on the organizations board of directors, I’ve seen many wonderful things this organization has done, and I’m proud that the Opus Foundation supports their efforts in working to break the cycle of generational poverty. Most recently, Opus Foundation awarded TCR! a $75,000 Impact Fund grant, allowing them to launch a pilot program that expedites their currently successful career training program. 

Founded in 1993, (TCR!) is an anti-poverty organization that provides employment training for individuals facing barriers to employment success and long-term self-sufficiency. The organization has served around 15,000 individuals across all programs, and about 5,000 served in employment training programs.  TCR! has achieved a  two-year job retention rating of 70% for its participants, well over the national average. Currently, the organization’s one-year retention rate is 78%.

"Our focus is on living-wage jobs that pay $20,000 a year or more that are full time and permanent," Leslie Dwight, director of strategic impact for TCR!, said. Through foundational and advanced training programs, participants develop skills to keep and a retain job. Further, TCR! helps participants find  jobs that provide growth opportunities. 

Throughout their strategic planning initiative, TCR! identified improvements that could be made to their programs to better serve participants. With this grant, the organization will create a fast-tracked training program for individuals the organization believes can achieve job placement success quicker. TCR! has identified 125 participants for this pilot. The goal of the pilot is to develop a model that provides soft skills as well as technical skills, tailored to meet the needs of each participant.

“Our organization is unique because we provide comprehensive training and coaching,” Dwight said. With housing instability, mental health, childcare and more preventing the participants from successfully holding down a job, TCR! provides coaches who meet with participants weekly to work on skills they’ve learned, set and monitor goals and identify necessary support services—bus passes, childcare subsidies, housing referrals and more. 

The Foundation has awarded more than $300,000 in grants to Twin Cities RISE!

The Opus Foundation supports projects and programs that make our communities better places to live, work and raise families through grants to nonprofit organizations in the areas of early childhood education, youth development, workforce development and community revitalization. Read more about the Foundation’s work here.