About Urban Scholars
The Urban Scholars program intentionally connects students and organizations in pursuit of an equitable workforce.
We envision an inclusive and equitable workforce made up of diverse leadership that reflects our community.
What is the Urban Scholars experience?
Urban Scholars is a paid, full time, 12-week program. Scholars spend 32 hours in their work placement, and 8 hours in the Urban Scholars Leadership Institute every week.
What is the Urban Scholars Leadership Institute?
The Urban Scholars Leadership Institute (USLI) is a key piece of the Urban Scholars experience. This leadership and professional development training touches on a range of topics and professional soft skills. Additionally, USLI offers a crucial space for scholars to reflect on experiences in the workplace and process learning.
We focus on providing tools and frameworks to navigate organizations and professional relationships. Our leadership development components focus on identifying personal strengths, values, and habits. We use Toastmasters to support the public speaking component of USLI. We also bring in professionals from across the region for panels and guest presentations.
Scholars go through USLI in smaller cohorts. In addition to creating an effective learning environment, these cohorts help foster relationships among scholars. The cohort grows to be an important professional network as scholars move through their career.
The cohort also creates opportunities for scholars to reflect on their own lived experiences and learn from the experiences of others. A range of identities are represented within a USLI cohort. Each scholar navigates work and life differently. The cohort is created to be a safe environment to share challenges, triumphs, and questions at the intersection of work, life, power, and identity.
What do Urban Scholars do in their work placements?
Urban Scholars staff curate meaningful work projects Scholars. We think of meaningful work as skill building or resume building experience. So forget about those stories of interns just getting coffee and running errands for their boss all day!
Because we work with students from all educational backgrounds, there isn't a set of standard work tasks that Scholars complete.
To name a few areas of work, over the years we've had Scholars work on:
- Data reporting in human resources
- Coordinating emergency preparedness workshops
- Conducting focus groups on youth violence prevention strategies
- Building databases and data visualization tools
- Researching various policy implementation strategies on affordable housing
- Community outreach for comprehensive planning
- Video and digital communication production
- Leading culturally relevant "Learn to Bike" workshops
- Testing and recommending data collection protocols
Has someone from your school participated in Urban Scholars?
This map shows the colleges and universities that Urban Scholars have attended.
History of the Program
Urban Scholars was created by the Civil Rights Equity Division. Although the program has grown and changed over the years, it stays rooted in its commitment to addressing racial disparities, both inside and outside our organizations.
In 2011, the Economic Policy Institute reported the Minneapolis region was home to the nation's worst employment disparity between whites and non-whites. In the summer of 2012, the City Council passed Resolution 2012R-456: Supporting Employment Equity in the Minneapolis Region. This resolution named institutional racism as a critical factor in employment disparities. The resolution stated the City of Minneapolis would lead by example to increase racial equity in employment in Minneapolis and throughout region. From this commitment came the Urban Scholars program.
Since 2012, Urban Scholars has grown from just eight students to placing over 100 scholars each summer - and it’s not just our numbers that have grown! What began as an internship program for racially diverse students at the City of Minneapolis is now a regional partnership connecting public and non-profit organizations with young talent, providing them with the tools necessary to build an equitable and inclusive workforce.
We recognize employment equity is more than just getting diverse students in the door. It requires a commitment at all levels of an organization to create and sustain an inclusive culture while investing in both current and future employees.
Last updated Dec 23, 2019