Genesys Works starts national expansion by opening its first expansion site in the Twin Cities
Nationally recognized program to equip Minneapolis/St. Paul-area high school students with tools needed to achieve professionally and academically
ST. PAUL, MN (March 31, 2008)
Genesys Works, a non-profit social enterprise formed to unite secondary education with Fortune 1000 companies to transform the lives and futures of underprivileged high school students, announced today that St. Paul will be the first expansion location as the organization looks to replicate its success across the nation.
Genesys Works engages high school students in underserved communities the summer prior to their senior year and trains the students in the areas of computer repair, engineering drafting and accounting. In addition, the students are taught the professional skills necessary to enter and succeed in a corporate environment, such as effective communication skills, business etiquette, corporate culture and goal setting. Upon completion of the training program, the students are employed to perform technical services for Fortune 1000 partner corporations where they earn an hourly wage for their work while receiving valuable professional experience and real-world mentoring. The experience has literally changed the students' outlook on and expectations for their life, giving them the drive to achieve academic success, a desire to pursue higher education, and the knowledge that they can be more than what they ever thought they could be.
"Programs and resources such as Genesys Works are a vital component to the educational advancement of local youth and the development of our future workforce," says Meria Carstarphen, Superintendent of St. Paul Public Schools. "We are thrilled that Genesys Works is bringing its proven model of public/private partnership to the St. Paul area and look forward to working together to better equip our students with the tools necessary to reach their full potential and encouraging them to become active members of the community."
Key to the success of Genesys Works in the Twin Cities is local leadership. To this end, Genesys Works has appointed Jeffrey Tollefson as executive director of the Twin Cities operation. Through his work as a partner at Social Venture Partners of Minnesota and his passion for helping at-risk youth, Tollefson was introduced to this innovative program. After meeting current Genesys Works students and realizing the positive impact this program has on young adults, he was eager to become more involved and replicate the model in the Twin Cities.
"After spending the last 20 years of my professional life helping young companies grow and prosper, I am excited to make the transition from venture capitalist to full-time social capitalist," commented Tollefson on his new non-profit role. In addition to his work with Social Venture Partners, Tollefson also co-founded and served as a general partner of Crescendo Ventures, a global venture capital investment management firm with more than $1.1 billion under management and offices in Minneapolis, Palo Alto and London. In this position, Jeff was involved in the creation, financing and growth of new business ventures in the communications, information technology and medical device fields.
"The Twin Cities provides Genesys Works the opportunity to partner with many large Fortune 1000 corporations, supportive schools and progressive business leaders," says Tollefson. "Through Genesys Works, we have an opportunity to alter the mindsets and futures of many less privileged youth in our inner-city communities, and I am thrilled to be a part of this impressive organization."
Despite the overall economic health and affluence of the Twin Cities metropolitan region, this prosperity is not widely shared as large social and economic disparities continue to exist between groups based on race, ethnicity and economic class. As highlighted in the Brookings Institution report Mind the Gap: Reducing Disparities to Improve Regional Competitiveness in the Twin Cities, new initiatives are needed to better educate and train low-income and minority groups to build a more competitive regional workforce for the future.
"It is vital that we provide area students, our future leaders, the opportunity to realize their dreams of a professional career and set them up for success," Tollefson added. "Genesys Works is a life-changing program that can do just that."
Since its inception in 2002, Genesys Works, a Houston-based 501(c)(3) social enterprise, has provided professional job training, employment and personal development guidance to hundreds of students. These students have effectively overcome environments of low expectations and resources to achieve in college and in their pursuit of professional careers.
"The Twin Cities expansion is an exciting first step for Genesys Works in our vision to bring a cultural change and revolutionize education around the country," says Rafael Alvarez, founder and president of Genesys Works. "In Jeff Tollefson, we have found a proven business leader capable of successfully launching the Genesys Works program in the Twin Cities, and we look forward to the positive contributions Genesys can make to both the futures of Twin Cities' students and the community as a whole."