The Rotary Club of Edina will welcome Matt Halley as program speaker at the Thursday, Dec. 6, meeting. He joined Cookie Cart as its Executive Director in 2004. Under his leadership Cookie Cart has grown from grass roots organization in North Minneapolis to one of the largest youth employment training program in the Twin Cities.
 

Matt Halley holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Augsburg College. He has worked in a variety of direct service and leadership roles at Twin Cities youth-serving organizations. Prior to Cookie Cart, Halley had a 10 year career at YouthLink, where he began as a case manager for homeless teens and left as the Executive Director. His areas of expertise include crisis intervention, GLBTQ youth, “learn to earn” training and youth social enterprise.

In the early 1980s Sr. Jean Thuerauf recognized that North Minneapolis teenagers needed a safe and engaging place to spend their time. The streets offered them crime, violence and gang involvement. Sister Jean decided to invite them into her kitchen for help with schoolwork and to learn to bake cookies. From those humble beginnings Cookie Cart has grown into a leading Twin Cities youth development program that utilizes a social enterprise nonprofit bakery to engage teens in building meaningful work, life and leadership skills. 

The bakery serves as an incubator that provides teens from communities of color with a safe, nurturing place to learn hand-on job skills. Teens learn through doing, and Cookie Cart gives them a chance to experience sales, production, inventory, leadership and marketing through the bakery and classes. Supervisors are teachers, and teaching takes priority over cookie production. Mistakes are learning opportunities, and all lessons presented in the context of how to meet the expectations at traditional jobs. As a “earn while you learn” program teens earn a wage at Cookie Cart that has a positive economic benefit to families and the neighborhood.

In May 2017, Cookie Cart opened its second bakery on Payne Avenue in St. Paul. It will employ 100 East Side teens annually.

The Rotary Club of Edina meets at 12:15 p.m. Thursdays at the Edina Country Club. All are welcome. Cost for lunch and the program is $20 for adults, $12 for kids. Cash, check and credit card payments are accepted at the door.

 

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