Kevin Robinson, #20storiesfor20years

“I’m Executive Director of 30,000 Feet. We provide arts education support for young people who struggle with literacy, usually ones who are highly mobile and living on the margins. We also have a high school program called Tech Geeks which focuses on young people who want to get into computing jobs but have barriers to employment. We have an ‘earn and learn’ model where they get paid $15 an hour to work 10 to 20 hours a week with the goal of getting a Code Academy certificate. Then we partner with local corporations who have admitted that maybe they’re not doing the best job with diversity to provide post-completion internships and opportunities. 50% of those jobs go to young people who have contact with the juvenile delinquency system, so they get referred from Ramsey County juvenile probation in the effort of diversion. We got connected to SVP Minnesota through a grant writer we work with. We put in an LOI, got a full application invite, went through the due diligence process, and got chosen as one of the organizations to go through the SVP three-year cohort.

A key cog of an SVP partnership is that you’re bringing people who’ve had different experiences together. You’ve got a lot of folks coming from the corporate side, more traditional, and then you’ve got community organizations. And we all need to get out of our comfort zones and push ourselves to work with people that we’re not used to working with over a long period of time. So, it’s been important for me to be in spaces with people I normally wouldn’t. Maybe we would meet at a formal event or a fundraiser, but not be in the grind together, working together, and hanging out together. You’re putting people in relationship with each other. So, if you’re coming in with preconceived notions, it’s going to get uncomfortable. But when things have been hard, we’ve had quite clear and honest communication. And I think that after we leave this, we’ll all be better off, not only capacity building and organizational-wise, but also in that we’re learning from each other. We’re all going to walk away better people, better humans. I think that’s a unique piece of SVP’s model.

I’m super passionate about this work. A lot of that comes from my parents, especially my mom. In my household, you had compassion for people, but you also did something about it. Not just feeling sorry for somebody, but also being active in it. To this day, my mom does voter registration stuff, housing ordinance stuff, rent cap stuff. That’s carried me throughout the journey of my work. I’m also passionate because people invested in me, and it was important for me to give that back. My favorite class freshman year was Hallway 101. I wasn’t going to class. But I still remember people pouring into me, like, ‘Kevin, you’re too smart to be doing this. You need to go to class.’ So, knowing the importance of that, I was like, ‘I gotta do that, too.’ It’s a coming full circle moment for me.”

Kevin Robinson< Executive Director and Co-founder, 30,000 Feet SVP Investee Organization Leader Story and Photo: Humans of Minneapolis

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