Dunwoody College Supports Underserved, Underrepresented Student Populations with Help from the Opus Foundation®

Minneapolis-based Dunwoody College of Technology is well known for consistently placing 95% of its students into career positions following graduation. On average, 2022 graduates received an impressive 13.8 job inquiries and starting salaries of $53,025.

In 2021, the college launched its Pathways to Careers Program (P2C) to provide underserved and underrepresented student populations with similar opportunities to get ahead. A strong fit with the Opus Foundation's youth development focus area, Dunwoody was recently awarded a $50,000 grant to support the multi-faceted program.

Real-World Educational Model

Founded in 1914, Dunwoody is a private, nonprofit technical college serving 1,400 students annually. It offers certificates, associate and bachelor's degrees in 45 fields of study, including construction sciences and building technology, robotics and manufacturing, computer technology and business management and leadership. Dunwoody is structured to easily allow students to advance from certificates to technical degrees to bachelor's degrees and offers three engineering Bachelor of Science programs – computer engineering, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering.

What sets Dunwoody apart is its educational model that emphasizes hands-on, real-world learning experiences that mirror actual work environments.

Through P2C, Dunwoody is providing underserved and under-represented student populations with technical education and career opportunities, while also helping to meet the demand for skilled labor in the market.

“Dunwoody's model, combined with offering these students financial benefits and a wide range of wrap-around supports like mentoring, professional development experiences and cohorts, empowers them to earn technical degrees," said Beth Duyvejonck, Regional Vice President of Construction, who serves on Dunwoody's industry advisory committee for the Construction Career Pathways program. “The school is helping to eliminate barriers that keep people from entering and succeeding in the industry."

The P2C program has two chapters. One chapter engages high school juniors and seniors in technical career paths through an immersive three-week Summer Experience and monthly sessions during the school year. The other chapter engages post-traditional adults who are referred by community partners and identify as low income. All participants benefit from 1:1 mentorship, leadership development, career planning, industry networking and stipends for time, commitment and participation. If they go on to enroll in a Dunwoody certificate or degree program, they receive a two-year renewable scholarship, up to $10,000 each year.

Building on Early Success

Participation has steadily grown during the program's first two years – from 59 Summer Experience students in 2021 – 2022 up to 75 this summer. An average of 70% of those participants enroll at Dunwoody after high school. To date, of the 27 post-traditional students who enrolled in that first year, 17 have graduated and 16 have been placed into jobs in their respective fields. This fall, 126 post-traditional students are enrolled to attend Dunwoody.

“We want to continue our aggressive recruitment and enrollment efforts, support our current students as they persist and graduate, and make a significant impact toward the dismantling of disparity gaps that students and professionals of color in Minnesota experience," said Bayza Weeks, Executive Director of Community Partnerships at Dunwoody, and creator and leader of the P2C scholarship program. “The P2C program is intentional in its design to address the academic gap, the income gap and the skills gap for participants."

Deepening Connections

The grant from the Opus Foundation will fund program-related expenses such as student stipends at minimum wage, materials and supplies, bus passes for transportation to and from the campus, and academic scholarships and programming to support students academically and personally.

“We are incredibly grateful to Opus for believing in our initiatives and contributing to our needs both financially and through volunteering," Bayza said. “Opus has an indelible impact on commercial real estate development, construction and design. We imagine some of our P2C and Dunwoody graduates will be future Opus employees!"

The grant furthers our connection to Dunwoody, where Field Engineer Joel Boulter is a Construction Career Pathways mentor. In addition to serving on the advisory council, Beth and Kelly Hovde, Senior Project Manager, volunteered as part of Dunwoody's Design and Construction Conference in 2022. During Women in Construction Week, the Opus Women's Network also contributed as part of a Salary Negotiation Workshop for Dunwoody's female students.

“Dunwoody is incredibly accessible to students in so many important ways – location near downtown, access to public transportation, connection to youth through high school programs, financial support and more," Beth said. “It is filling a huge gap in education services for post-secondary students with programs that are specifically built to support the construction industry."


The Opus Foundation®​ is the corporate foundation for The Opus Group and is building community for a better tomorrow by supporting projects and programs that make our communities better places to live, work and raise families. The Foundation is committed to improving conditions that disproportionately affect historically underinvested individuals and communities by resourcing key focus areas of early childhood education, youth development, workforce development, community revitalization and pressing/emerging needs. Read more about the Foundation's work. The Opus Foundation is a separate entity from The Opus Group and is led by its own Board of Directors.