These youth apprenticeships have civic impact

Youth (yooth) - a set of thoughtful, passionate leaders who come to the table with curiosity and power, with curiosity and power to be unleashed

Apprenticeship (ə-prěn'tĭs-shĭp) - relationship between youth and mentor, from which the youth derives skills, guidance, and challenge, and the mentor derives renewed outlook, meaning, and challenge

Project (pr?j'ěkt') – a grand connection that yields great change

Youth are powerful agents of change. This summer, 30 young people ages 14 to 19 will be connecting to the West Side neighborhood in St. Paul, Minnesota, and impacting the way it works and grows.

They’ll engage in this process through the Youth Apprenticeship Project (YAP), a program initiated by the Neighborhood Learning Community.

Youth who participate in the YAP program are paid through the City of Saint Paul Youth Job Corps to spend 20 hours a week in a neighborhood business or organization working with a committed mentor. While the student will be doing work for the organization, his or her position is transformed from just a job to an apprenticeship because of the committed support of the mentor and the opportunity for meaningful work. This is an exciting way to build capacity in neighborhood organizations and develop young people’s skills in a place-based context.

YAP program staff, including myself, will work with youth at weekly meetings to develop and reflect upon the skills they’re learning in their apprenticeships. We’ll coach the apprentices as they do additional work on projects related to relevant issues in the neighborhood, bringing their personal skills into a community context.

We see this project as a great opportunity that will truly yield great change, connecting youth to mentors, to one another, and to a larger movement of change and asset building in their neighborhood. These connections are a foundation of support for youth to engage their curiosity and enact their power.

If you'd like more information on YAP, please contact me at

Stay tuned for information this summer about the work of the apprentices, and check out this link to see a colorful briefing of past YAP successes:

Guidelines for YAP Mentors

The Center for Democracy and Citizenship is a partner in the Neighborhood Learning Community.

Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs