Brooklyn Center council approval also required
The Brooklyn Park City Council, acting as the Economic Development Authority, unanimously approved a cooperation agreement between Brooklyn Center and Brooklyn Park to continue the operation of the Brooklynk program at its Aug. 21 meeting.
The program was launched by the Brooklyn Bridge Alliance for Youth in Feb. 2015. It connects youth ages 14-21 who live or go to school in Brooklyn Park or Brooklyn Center with skills training and ideally, connects them with paid internships at local businesses and a pathway to college.
The Brooklyn Bridge Alliance launched the program with the intention to transition it to a partnering organization after three years of operation.
A steering committee decided that the program ought to be taken over by Brooklyn Park’s community development department.
Hennepin Technical College, North Hennepin Community College, Hennepin County, Anoka Hennepin Schools, Brooklyn Center Community Schools, Osseo Area Schools and Robbinsdale Public Schools are also partners with the Alliance.
In 2017, 97 percent of program participants completed their summer internships. A total of 97 students went through the program. Of those students, 94 percent were students of color and 72 percent are on free-or-reduced lunch programs.
In total, youth participants took home approximately $145,500 in 2017. They worked a total of 15,520 hours for 15 different employers.
“The merits of the program are tremendous,” Mayor Jeff Lunde said, adding that this frees up the Brooklyn Bridge Alliance to look for new work that needs to be addressed in the community.
Councilmember Mark Mata said he would like to see school districts take ownership of the program in the future.
“I just see this in the future as something we put back to the school systems. If someone was looking for a job they already have people there … businesses in the community could go to its school system knowing that’s where its workforce is coming from,” he said.
“We believe this is a good spot for us to have this program,” said Erik Hansen, director of economic develop and housing.
Councilmember Bob Mata asked that the city consider alternative forms of financing the program, such as revenue from pull tabs or other gambling in the city.
The Brooklyn Center City Council will need to approve the agreement before it will fully transition to Brooklyn Park.
If approved, the two cities will form an advisory committee which will monitor, evaluate and propose changes to programs, as well as develop a budget and determine fund raising strategies. Brooklyn Park will operate as the program’s fiscal agent. The program would be housed and operated out of the Brooklyn Park Community Development Department effective Dec. 31, 2017.
Operation costs for the program in 2018 are $250,000. Brooklyn Park city staff members will plan to fund-raise $150,000 in private, foundation and non-city government resources. The remaining $100,000 in costs will be split equally between the two cities.