Mayo Clinic and Rochester NAACP launch Rise for Youth program

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(ABC 6 News) – According to the Rochester branch of the NAACP, the state of Minnesota has one of the worst disparities in employment outcomes for People of Color in the United States. They are trying to reverse that locally by investing in youth.

"They’re heading in the right direction, you know. It’s been a crazy last three years," said Moses Norwood, a Century High School student in the Rise for Youth program.

"It’s good. I feel like it’s much needed and it’s about time," agreed Matthew Morcos, another student in the program.

A group of 40 exceptional students from Minnesota, to Ohio make up the first ever Rise for Youth cohort at Mayo Clinic.

"They are a lot of really strong, just brilliant scholars. There was just a lot of promise in these young leaders," said Wale Elegbede, the president of the Rochester NAACP.

It’s a partnership with the Rochester NAACP focused on giving underrepresented youth a leg-up in launching their careers. Mayo Clinic said it is also an attempt to address racial disparities in the community. Students will get the chance to shadow professionals at Mayo Clinic in health care, but also in sectors like finance and social work.

Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan spoke about her experience as an Indigenous woman in the Minnesota workforce.

"A lot of times when I work at the capitol, I hear a lot about ‘those people.’ Well, I am those people. And those people deserve to have a seat at the table," Flanagan said.

According to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, 60.5% of Black Minnesotans and 60.9% of Indigenous Minnesotans will not complete a college degree.

For Norwood, he and his brother will be the first generation in their family to graduate high school.

"I do have an interest in medicine. I want to be a neurosurgeon one day. This is good for the kids. It gives them that first step into getting towards their goals," he said.

This cohort will work with Mayo Clinic for four weeks.