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CST Students Work With Family Economic Success Program

Posted by Jayce Koester ’16, Center for Small Towns on Monday, Jul. 14, 2014

Jacob Bibeau ’15, Grand Rapids, and Ricardo Rojas ’16, Champlin, have worked with the University of Minnesota, Morris Center for Small Towns (CST) and the Family Economic Success (FES) program, sponsored by the West Central Initiative, to collect economic and family-oriented data from the nine counties that comprise west central Minnesota and Economic Development Region Four: Becker, Clay, Douglas, Grant, Otter Tail, Pope, Stevens, Traverse, and Wilkin. The two will use the data to construct a profile of the region.

Bibeau and Rojas gathered information on the three key areas identified by the FES program: careers and employability, early childhood development, and asset building. They will present the data, which illustrated barriers and opportunities that may affect families in the workforce, to key members of the FES Council later this summer. The team worked closely with Rebecca Erickson, CST data services and outreach coordinator, and Kelly Asche, CST program coordinator to collect the information. They used findings from the United States Census, Minnesota’s Economic Database (DEED), the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and others.

“This work will allow for future growth of families that live in west central Minnesota,” said Rojas.

Bibeau agreed, adding, “the project really helped me to learn how to gather data and get a better understanding of the financial situation in western Minnesota.”

CST is a community outreach program that serves as a point-of-entry to the resources of the University of Minnesota. Small towns, local units of government, k-12 schools, nonprofit organizations, and other University units are able to utilize CST’s resources as they work on rural issues or make contributions to rural society. Its mission is to focus the University’s attention and marshal its resources toward assisting Minnesota’s small towns with locally identified issues by creating applied learning opportunities for faculty and students.

Pictured above: Jacob Bibeau ’15 (left) and Ricardo Rojas ’16 (right).