Opus Foundation® Builds Community & Develops Workforce with Twin Cities-Based CLUES


​Workforce development is one of the Opus Foundation’s key areas of focus, and recently the foundation awarded a sizeable grant to expand and deepen a Minneapolis-Saint Paul area building trades workforce development initiative.

Comunidades Latinas Uniqdas en Servicio (CLUES) is the largest nonprofit run by and for Latinos in Minnesota. With a mission of advancing the capacity of Latino families to be healthy, prosperous and engaged in the community, CLUES programs fall into two primary focus areas: Health and Family Well-being and Economic Vitality, which includes employment, education, workforce development, asset building and financial literacy. The Opus Foundation awarded a $30,000 Impact Fund grant to further develop the organization’s building trades workforce development program as part of its own Economic Vitality focus area.

In 2015, in an effort to address the shortage of entry-level workers in the building trades sector, several employers and union representatives encouraged CLUES to develop a pilot program. Working in partnership with the Painters and Allied Trades Union and the Finishing Trades Institute of the Upper Midwest, CLUES offered a five-week class that prepared students for successful employment in the building trades. The program included individual coaching, soft skills training, teamwork, financial literacy and computer training, followed by five weeks of hands-on pre-apprenticeship training. CLUES employment coaches then worked with employers and unions to secure job placement for participants.

Based on the momentum of the pilot, the Opus Foundation grant will support the second year of the program. Funds will be used for program needs, tuition and other organizational expenses. In addition to securing the program’s continuation, the Opus Foundation grant is helping to attract additional local trade unions interested in participating in the program, including the Bricklayers Union and Operating Engineers Local 49.

“The grant from the Opus Foundation is tremendous and enables us to continue this successful workforce development program,” said Eduardo Barrera, CLUES economic vitality division director. “Because of their generous support, we are able to strengthen the capacity of CLUES by providing additional skilled training to minorities dedicated to learning new skills in the trade fields, leading to higher wages, successful careers and better lives.”

The Opus Foundation is proud to support the CLUES workforce development program, helping to prepare people for living wage jobs while providing employers with the skilled workers they need.