Minneapolis – St. Paul
The Minneapolis/St. Paul program is a two-year Associate’s Degree in Community Development from Minneapolis Community and Technical College. Housed within the college’s Political Science Department, the core curriculum for the degree includes introductions to community development, community organizing (history, theory, and practice), and the use of media in organizing. Other program elements include internships/field study, pre-internship preparation, field mentors, and student clubs. View the Community Learning Partnership profile of the development of our program: Minneapolis Site Profile.
Our program is a partnership that was born out of a relationship between Minneapolis Community and Technical College and the Native American Community Development Institute. The partnership has since grown to include a variety of nonprofit, government and higher education partners to build pathways into community change careers for our students. We have an Advisory Committee comprised of members from the City of Minneapolis, the City of St. Paul, Hennepin County, Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers, Native American Community Development Institute (NACDI), Citizens for a Loring Park Community (CLPC), Nexus Community Partners, MIGIZI Communications, Metropolitan State University, and the University of Minnesota. These partnerships play a major role in shaping our program’s curriculum and providing field opportunities for our students.
Students began enrolling in the program in 2010. A large percentage of these students come from low-income neighborhoods of North and South Minneapolis. The program has attracted a diverse mix of African American, Latino/a, immigrant, white and Native American students, with slightly higher numbers of Black males White females currently represented. We began graduating students in 2013. Some graduate with plans to transfer to four-year degree programs and others with plans to work in the community development field.
In addition to our academic curriculum, our program includes internships with community groups in which students work with program faculty and field mentors to develop detailed learning agreements and keep weekly journals to track their progress. To prepare the students to succeed in their internships, we have an optional pre-internship program that offers support with preparing resumes and professional portfolios, as well as guidance and practice in professional networking. Our program also includes a Community Development Student Club where students can build relationships with one another, learn from guest speakers, and make field trips to visit community partners.
We have developed pathways to four-year degrees through partnerships and articulation agreements between the Community Development A.S. Degree Program at Minneapolis Community and Technical College and institutions such as Metropolitan State University. Our Community Learning Partnership team is also exploring collaborations with local high schools to design dual-credit courses in community organizing and community development as a strategy for creating a pathway for students from high school through community college.
Internships. To complete their two-year degree in Community Development, our students must complete a three-credit internship for field experience. Students work with faculty and members of our Advisory Committee to find placements and then work with faculty and their site supervisors to devise detailed learning agreements. Students keep weekly journals to track their progress and must complete a final assignment that is both useful to the sites and furthers their own learning and personal development goals. The internships also offer opportunities for the faculty to get to know the students and their interests more deeply, and to support them for staying in school, graduating and moving into careers. For the field placement sites, our program offers an intern pool with greater diversity and more real-world experience than they can find elsewhere.
Pre-Internships. To prepare the students to succeed in their internships, our program recently added an optional pre-internship program that includes support with developing resumes and professional portfolios. Students also use self-assessment tools (such as Career Finder and Strengths Finder), meet with Career Services to debrief, interview a practitioner in the field, and attend at least one networking event. One cohort, for example, attended the CLP Advisory Committee meeting, with several securing internship placements for the spring or summer as a result.
Community Development Club. The Community Development Club is a student club that meets weekly and provides a space for students in our program to build relationships with one another and deepen their own learning. Through the Club, students invite speakers in from community groups (such as the Organizing Apprenticeship Project) and make field trips to visit community partners. This innovation also helps prepare our students to become activists and to take on leadership roles in student government. For example, the Club sponsors an annual on-campus Community Engagement week and has raised funds to send students to The Democracy Commitment conference.