Cedar Riverside Opportunity Center connected hundreds of residents with jobs in first year

The center has been training and placing locals in jobs since March 2017.

Five15 on the Park, an apartment building on 15th Avenue South, is home to the Cedar Riverside Opportunity Center, a space community members come to for help finding jobs.

Maddy Fox, Daily File Photo

Five15 on the Park, an apartment building on 15th Avenue South, is home to the Cedar Riverside Opportunity Center, a space community members come to for help finding jobs.

Kassidy Tarala

The Cedar Riverside Opportunity Center has connected hundreds of neighborhood residents with jobs in its first year. 

The employment hub offers residents educational and workforce resources to help prepare them for job placement. Last week, the opportunity center celebrated its one-year anniversary in the neighborhood. 

“The workforce staff placed 321 youth and adults into jobs. Also, 51 residents obtained credentials in short-term trainings and college enrollment assistance. The center has served 683 youth and adults,” said Mohamed Ali, director of the opportunity center.

Workforce coach Asad Isaak said the center provides programs for people of all backgrounds who need employment. The center has also helped fund scholarships for residents to attend classes at Minneapolis Community and Technical College.

“We help people apply for jobs, search for potential jobs. We give trainings and we offer workshops five days every week,” Isaak said.

Workforce coaches like Isaak conduct five-day training sessions to help residents prepare for employment.

Isaak said his role involves training individuals who either don’t have a high school diploma or speak little to no English. Through the trainings, opportunity center staff help residents create email accounts, resumes and search for jobs that match their experience levels.

On Fridays — the final day of the training sessions — Isaak and his team hold mock interviews to help clients apply what they learned throughout the week.

“The process is different for everyone. Some people have a high school diploma or a GED, so we help them look for higher level jobs,” Isaak said. “But we also have a lot of clients with limited English, so we help them look for jobs that have no language requirements.”

Staff members, policy makers, residents and other community members have already seen a positive impact on unemployment in the neighborhood.

“We still have so much to do. We’re addressing the key issue of unemployment and underemployment and presenting an actual physical location where people can go to solve this problem,” said Ward 6 Minneapolis City Council member Abdi Warsame, who helped found the opportunity center. 

Sean Sittnick, Minnesota United FC Senior Director of Ticket Sales, attended the opportunity center’s anniversary celebration last week. He said the soccer team has been in talks with the center to see if they can hire residents who go through the employment programs. 

“[We] have many connections from that community that we wanted to celebrate this success with,” Sittnick said.

Though Minnesota United FC hasn’t hired anyone from the opportunity center yet, Sittnick said he is hopeful they will in the near future.