Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity has partnerships with multiple schools throughout the Twin Cities, but Minnetonka’s VANTAGE program is unique. VANTAGE stands for Minnetonka’s Advanced Professional Studies Program, and offers high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to partner with local Twin Cities companies by doing real world business projects.
The program is an opportunity to reinvent the learning experience for high school students and inspire them with an authentic set of business challenges daily. It is highly competitive and gives students opportunities to explore career paths, before entering college. The VANTAGE program creates a deeper and more meaningful experience not only for the students, but also the business partners. VANTAGE also partners with Target, General Mills, Children’s Hospitals, Cargill, Medica, and many other corporations.
The VANTAGE program is only in its second year, but has been very successful and is continuously growing and creating new partnerships. In the first semester, VANTAGE offered a single course named Business in a Global Economy and now VANTAGE offers over 100 students courses in business analytics and healthcare. Within the next year, it will be expanding its areas of interest and offer courses in food science, graphic and product design, Minnetonka’s Broadcast channel, engineering, and the psychology of learning.
Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity has partnered with VANTAGE since its beginning in 2013. This will be the fourth project completed with the students and Habitat. VANTAGE has partnered with multiple departments in our organization including the Communications Team, the ReStore, and the Youth Engagement Team.
The first project completed with the students revolved around how to get more youth involved in Habitat’s mission. The VANTAGE team created a youth marketing plan which included social media suggestions, and tips on how to get more awareness for Habitat in schools. The group also provided a book with instructions for youth groups trying to organize a volunteer day.
The second and third projects happened simultaneously and focused on the ReStore. In February 2014, the ReStore expanded its total sales space, which allowed more room donated materials to be sold. The main goal of the VANTAGE project was to obtain more donations for the ReStore from local companies. The group did extensive research into companies that already donate to the ReStore and companies that have potential to do so. The group created a marketing plan for the ReStore that they can use to reach out to local companies. Another large part of the marketing plan focused on how to get the ReStore more awareness in the local community.
These last few months Habitat and VANTAGE have been working on their fourth project. The VANTAGE students have been analyzing our Give to the Max Day (GTMD) data from November 2014. Throughout the last semester, the students have been working tirelessly to research different organizations fundraising strategies, administering surveys to 3 different high schools, and analyzing our final results from GTMD.
After months of hard work the VANTAGE team, Billy, Rudy, Jesse, Jackson and Daniel, got to deliver their GTMD analysis and recommendations to Habitat staff on Tuesday, January 13th. They presented to Habitat staff, members of the leadership team, and Board member, Ann Senn, who helped us create this partnership in 2013. During the presentation, the students offered suggestions on how we can continue to have successful GTMDs in the future and also how to engage a new generation of donors focusing on the youth population. The team gave us recommendations including creating more awareness on social media regarding GTMD and partnering with local Habitat clubs in schools and the community. The team also discussed relating the GTMD marketing strategy directly to the mission of Habitat, which is to provide safe, stable, and affordable housing to more families in the Twin Cities.
The VANTAGE students have been professional, eager to learn, and passionate about their projects and the program as a whole. VANTAGE allows Habitat for Humanity and multiple companies the opportunity to complete projects with fresh insight and enthusiasm; the program also helps us accomplish projects that we may not have the resources to do otherwise. VANTAGE also helps students by giving them an upper edge when applying for college. Habitat is fortunate to have this great partnership with the VANTAGE program, and is in the process of planning a spring semester project with the VANTAGE team!
For more information on the VANTAGE program visit www.tonkavantage.org.