Erika Binger is a longtime community volunteer, mentor and McKnight Foundation board member whose roots go to the founders of 3M Co. Satin Taylor is a performance-improvement consultant at Allina Health and college graduate who met Binger as a youth. They are drivers in an upcoming youth-business-community summit at the Minnesota History Center.
Q: Erika, what is Youthprise and the youth summit that will run Thursday through Saturday?
A: Youthprise works to increase the awareness and importance of youth development through capacity building, public policy advocacy, research, evaluation and youth engagement. Youthprise [is an] expert on out-of-school time and a one-stop shop for funders, educators, community organizations, etc. It shares ways to improve program quality … and fill in the gaps. The summit is for seventh- to 12th-graders and will focus on technology to spark youth entrepreneurship, address racial disparities and inspire change. There will be hands-on innovation activities, community building as well as a keynote by Coco & Breezy, [started by] recognized Minnesota youth entrepreneurs.
Q: What is your background and your role at the McKnight Foundation?
A: I have spent most of my career in the nonprofit sector, whether volunteering in programs, serving on boards, as an adviser or staff. It was my time as an athletic director at the Jack C. Cornelius Boys & Girls Club [in north Minneapolis] that led me to fully realize what I enjoy most, working with youth. I have been blessed to be on the McKnight Foundation board. We have learned about issues of significance in our community and been able to make a difference.
Q: How is business and technology integrated into the upcoming youth summit?
A: Much of the economic driver in our country seems increasingly reliant upon the success of small businesses. I see this mentality in the youth I work with. They are more inclined to be entrepreneurial and think about what they can do to establish their own business than to work in somebody else’s company. This summit will provide youth insight and skills. It will teach hands-on learning experiences. We expect over 300 Twin Cities-area youths.
Q: Do you have evidence that Youthprise is working?
A: Youthprise has received recognition across the country for engagement of youth in programming and policy work and providing opportunities for accelerated learning beyond the classroom. Youthprise will be the first U.S. location to pilot the successful international Youth Bank model, and they are beginning to work throughout the state with school districts and community education providers to create a more consistent quality of programming as well as including a youth voice in program and systems design.
Q: What is “We Impact” and how is this linked to the Youthprise forum?
A: We Impact is a newly formed entity designed to erase generational poverty [and] empower individuals through entrepreneurism, financial literacy and dignity. It is sponsoring a hack-a-thon with Youthprise the following weekend to teach youth how to work with computer programmers and others involved in software and hardware development. John Hope Bryant, author of “How the Poor Can Save Capitalism,” will be a keynote speaker, sign books and judge the apps created by the youth participants.
Q: Satin Taylor, tell me about your experience with Erika and your successes.
A: I met Erika at Jack Cornelius Boys & Girls Club when I was 11. She did more than coach games. She built confidence, leadership skills and taught us about money. With guidance and support through the years, she helped me become the person I am today. Erika helped me with my homework and set expectations early that my hard work would pay off in college and life. She encouraged me to go for what I believe.
Q: Today, you are a corporate manager and married mother of four kids, correct?
A: I’m an example of how mentoring can help change the life of not just one person … but a generation. Those who empower and support youths help enhance the future. Erika does that and much more through her day-to-day routine of solving problems, improving communities and inspiring hope. I have been blessed to have a person like Erika in my life the past 20 years.
Q: Are you paying it forward?
A: I volunteer in We Impact. I am focusing on passing on the hope, motivation and problem-solving skills that were given to me. I believe that if I can support a person in the same way Erika has supported me, it will continue the chain of educating, empowering and encouraging others to do the same.