STEP-UP celebrated 10 years of providing internships for local youth Aug. 15 at the Guthrie Theatre.
STEP-UP was started in 2004, and has since provided nearly 18,000 internships to teenagers and young adults from low-income families.
Over 230 Twin Cities businesses including Target Corporation, Boston Scientific and Fairview Health Services have participated in the program, hiring paid interns ages 14-21 each summer.
Mayor R.T. Rybak spoke at the celebration, telling the crowd of interns, alumni, employers, family and community members at the Guthrie that helping to create STEP-UP was one of his greatest accomplishments as mayor.
“Of all the things I’ve gotten to do as mayor, when somebody says, ‘What’s the best?’ there’s not a question,” Rybak said. “There’s no question of what’s the best; it’s STEP-UP.”
U.S. Bank CEO and President and STEP-UP Co-chair Richard Davis also spoke at the event, telling the crowd that Minneapolis is the only city in the U.S. that offers such a program for youth.
Javier Rucker, a 2013 graduate of Patrick Henry High School took his third internship through STEP-UP this summer working as an auditor at the Minnesota Department of Revenue.
“The future is bright, we have STEP-UP. It’s incredible,” Rucker said. “I never expected to be working at the Department of Revenue. … This internship gave me experience and exposure into the field.”
Rucker said because of his internship this summer, he decided to major in business when he attends the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities this fall.
The anniversary celebration also included several musical performances; awards recognizing exceptional interns, supervisors and employers; and comments from Congressman Keith Ellison.
“It has been awesome, and I pray that we celebrate the 20th and the 30th and the 40th anniversaries of STEP-UP,” Ellison said.