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Minneapolis nonprofit bakery that employs urban teens will expand in St. Paul

Cookie Cart, a nonprofit bakery and youth program in Minneapolis that teaches and employs urban teens, plans an expansion to a second site on St. Paul's East Side.

The organization, founded by a nun in 1988, expects to work with 200 teens this year at its West Broadway location in Minneapolis. Many of the teens will get industry skills certification and learn other employment-related skills.

The groups says it is buying a St. Paul building, formerly a market at 946 Payne Av., which will be renovated for the group's second bakery.

A $3.2 million funding drive is under way and the program hopes to open its St. Paul bakery in 2017.

Meanwhile, this January the group plans a pilot program with students from nearby Johnson High School. Organizers say St. Paul youths "will receive classroom learning focused on job readiness and life skills, like youth in Cookie Cart’s Minneapolis program, and will have the opportunity to participate in Saint Paul area community cookie selling events as a representative of the organization."

The organization says it began when Sister Jean Thuerauf was looking for ways to help North Minneapolis teens by helping them with homework and teaching them to bake cookies in her kitchen.

By 1988 Cookie Cart was registered as a nonprofit and moved into a storefront on Emerson Avenue, before moving to its current location on Broadway. A major expansion in 2014 doubled the number of youth who learn customer service and financial literacy, as well as opportunities to work with adults in the bakery and on networking activities, informational interviews, workplace visits and leadership projects.

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