Dougherty Family College to Support Workforce Development, Receives Multi-Year Grant


​Strengthening the workforce in our communities and helping position and prepare under or unemployed individuals for career advancement and greater self-sufficiency is an important focus of the Opus Foundation®.

Minnesota’s low-income communities have been historically underserved by the state’s four-year educational institutions. The University of St. Thomas (UST), a trusted partner in business, education and stewardship, is addressing those challenges by helping motivated, under-resourced students overcome barriers to college access and future success. The Opus Foundation® is helping make it possible.

This fall, UST will open a college unlike any other in the state and one of only two colleges of its kind in the country. This two-year college, the Dougherty Family College (DFC), within a four-year institution will provide an alternate pathway to college by offering associates-degree programs to motivated students from low-income communities. Students can attend the college for as little as $1,000 per year and get access to UST’s top-notch facilities, such as libraries, athletic facilities and IT support. They will also be provided laptop computers, meals, metro transit passes, tutors and access to a corporate internship program. This is where the Foundation comes in.

The Opus Foundation is supporting DFC with a $438,624 multi-year grant for the formation, implementation and expansion of a corporate internship program. By connecting students with paid internships and regional employers, DFC students develop professional and life skills, as well as foster community engagement and meaningful workplace participation.

“The power of a four-year degree allows you to start your career, get a job, achieve financial freedom and support your family,” said Alvin Abraham, dean of Dougherty Family College. “Within their families, many of our students are first generation college students, so preparing them for the workforce is vital. The internship program will expose them to real workplaces and careers, setting them on course to make informed decisions moving forward.”

To prepare them for successful placement in the internship program, incoming freshman will spend the fall semester participating in workplace development training to familiarize them with workplace expectations and professional etiquette. Corporate partner representatives will also receive training and guidance for working with underserved students. The internship program, which begins in January of the freshman year, will be 18 months in duration.

“Opus’ support of our college and programs has been nothing short of remarkable,” said Lori Williamson, associate vice president of development at the University of St. Thomas. “They have been extremely generous over the years, and once again they are helping us make a difference.” 

The Opus Foundation is building community for a better tomorrow by supporting 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, community revitalization and pressing/emerging needs. Read more about the Foundation’s work.