St. Paul program 'Right Track' helps low-income teens get jobs

A St. Paul jobs program for teens is being recognized as a model for the rest of the country. The manager of the program will visit the White House on Friday for a youth jobs summit to share success stories.

It helps young people take their first step into the corporate world, and hopefully onto a brighter future.

At the Wells Fargo bank in downtown St. Paul, Khalique Rogers helps customers with everything from money to mortgages. But his part-time job wouldn't have been possible without a little help to get him on the right track.

“It really helped out," Rogers said.  "In a way, I am the face of Wells Fargo. I get all the heat, all the glad customers."

The “Right Track” program hooks teenagers up with summer jobs and internships with companies and non-profits in St. Paul.

"It helped me through a transition period in my life trying to decide what kind of roadmap I wanted to pursue,” Rogers said.

Rogers got his first job working construction through the program when he was 15. Last year, he interned as a bank teller, which led to a job once the summer was over.

"It was awesome and flattering,” he said.

The city says the program gives the mostly low-income teens of color invaluable work experience as well as something to do during the summer and earn extra money. Plus, companies like Ecolab, Travelers Insurance, and U.S. Bank get a pipeline to potential future employees.

"We always like to have youth engaged in positive activities in the summer so working an 8-hour shift and coming home tired is a good thing," St. Paul mayor Chris Coleman said. 

Rogers hopes to transfer to the University of Minnesota next fall to get a degree in computer science. And whatever career he decides to pursue after that, he knows he is on the right path.

"It helped shape my life,” Rogers said. “Great stepping stone for me, so it really helped out."

Last year, over 600 teens got jobs through the “Right Track” program. The deadline to apply for this summer is on Sunday. For more information, click here.