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These comments are responses to the statements listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
Steve Rothschild Interview of

Personal empowerment key to training the disadvantaged for living-wage jobs


Steve Rothschild is founder and chair of Twin Cities RISE! (TCR!), an antipoverty/job training organization that trains underemployed and unemployed adults, primarily men from communities of color in the Twin Cities area, for skilled jobs that pay a living wage. The program serves 700 participants a year and works with 50 companies, mostly medium and smaller ones. Rothschild believes that the personal empowerment program developed by TCR! is the primary reason for its success in placing graduates in jobs averaging $25,000 a year and the high rate of retention of graduates in those jobs for one year (81 percent) and for two years (71 percent). Over half of the participants in the program have a criminal history, but the three-year recidivism rate for graduates is 16 percent, compared with 61 percent for all Minnesota prisons. Rothschild says for change to endure, people must transform themselves and stop feeling powerless and hopeless, so they can become accountable for their own future. That requires a change in the beliefs that affect the way individuals think, feel and behave, which is the basis for the personal empowerment program. He believes personal empowerment (a non-therapeutic approach to emotional intelligence training and cognitive restructuring) should be taught to students in district public schools, but says the district bureaucracies have not been open to the idea. TCR! also developed a unique Pay for Performance funding model, in which it is paid only for successful graduates by the State of Minnesota. The model has been successfully operating since 1997. 

For the complete interview summary see: Rothschild Interview

Response Summary: Readers have been asked to rate, on a scale of (0) most disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) most agreement, the following points discussed by Rothschild. Average response ratings shown below are simply the mean of all readers’ zero-to-ten responses to the ideas proposed and should not be considered an accurate reflection of a scientifically structured poll.

1. Hopelessness hurts job performance. (9.1 average response) Because graduates of many job-training programs continue to feel powerless and hopeless, they often fail to succeed in the workplace and thus to lift themselves out of poverty.

2. Training must address beliefs. (9.1 average response) Remedial education and job skills training are insufficient if they don't also address poverty as a state of mind.

3. Measure outcomes, not outputs. (9.3 average response) It's essential to measure training "outcomes", including higher salaries and job tenure, not just "outputs", such as numbers of trainees placed in jobs.

4. Attitude change leads to success. (9.0 average response) Programs such as Twin Cities RISE! are getting better outcomes because they empower their enrollees to stop blaming others for their circumstances and to believe in themselves and in their capacity for success.

5. Teach empowerment in K-12. (9.0 average response) Because many children are already feeling hopeless at very early ages, often not even understanding why they are in school, it's critical that self-worth and empowerment be as much a part of the K-12 curriculum as reading and math.

Response Distribution:

Strongly disagree

Moderately disagree


Moderately agree

Strongly agree

Total Responses

1. Hopelessness hurts job performance.







2. Training must address beliefs.







3. Measure outcomes, not outputs.







4. Attitude change leads to success.







5. Teach empowerment in K-12.







Individual Responses:

Bert LeMunyon (10) (10) (10) (10) (5)

5. Teach empowerment in K-12. It is always a struggle to assign dollars and hours to various activities when both are limited. Would an after school program be possible for willing students?

Debby Frenzel (7.5) (7.5) (7.5) (7.5) (7.5)

Ray Ayotte (10) (10) (10) (10) (10)

Chris Brazelton (10) (10) (10) (10) (10)

1. Hopelessness hurts job performance. It is very difficult for people who grew up with positive messaging to understand the deep down damage that occurs in a racist culture. In fact, although there have been many significant improvements, many people don't realize the extent to which the culture remains racist. It seems that if it is not happening to them personally, they are blind to it happening at all.

5. Teach empowerment in K-12. Positive messaging needs to start at the earliest age possible. In addition, Waldorf Schools understand the need to teach to all learning styles, and public schools need to incorporate those methods into the curriculum.

Don Anderson (10) (7.5) (10) (10) (10)

Jan Hively (10) (7.5) (10) (10) (10)

1. Hopelessness hurts job performance. This is true of people who have been laid off and are unemployed for a substantial length of time.

Chuck Slocum (10) (10) (10) (10) (10)

1. Hopelessness hurts job performance. Mr. Rothschild is the expert here. Long impressed with Twin Cities RISE program.

3. Measure outcomes, not outputs. RISE has been a pioneer and has created a win-win with the state of Minnesota.

4. Attitude change leads to success. Something is working here; I want to take that empowerment course.

5. Teach empowerment in K-12. Agreed. Formula: start early with Pre-K school readiness, focus on reading, provide non-family, trained, adult mentor to each child.

Warren Colison (7.5) (7.5) (7.5) (0) (7.5)

3. Measure outcomes, not outputs. It is also important to look at the big picture. You are, if course interested in the well being [of the] entire society, not just promoting the social standing of a few individuals, right?

4. Attitude change leads to success. Yes, maybe. But individual responsibility without social responsibility is a cynical joke. Since you are "non-partisan", as you say, you understand the importance of making sure your enrollees have an honest, realistic view of their position. One's circumstance is not always all the fault of the individual. It takes a village.

5. Teach empowerment in K-12. Are you making sure your enrollees have the confidence and self worth to organize unions so that they can fight for a better life? Creating a few happy, obedient slaves is not going to solve anything.

David G. Dillon (10) (10) (10) (10) (10)

5. Teach empowerment in K-12. Thank you for doing this great work.

Chuck Denny (10) (10) (10) (10) (10)

Tom Spitznagle (7) (9) (10) (9) (8)

Alan Miller (8) (8) (6) (8) (9)

Chuck Lutz (8) (9) (9) (9) (8)

Carolyn Ring (8) (9) (8) (10) (8)

Al Quie (10) (10) (10) (10) (10)

Rothschild understands. The start must be early. Prenatal. Without good emotional and social development, adequate cognitive and skill development cannot occur. 84% of black children grow up without their father in the home. Unless we solve that problem, the future is pretty bleak. The knowhow is available but organized opposition seems to prevail.

Wayne Jennings (10) (10) (10) (10) (10)

Without attention to inner states of mind, many students continue to fail and as a result come to think of themselves as inferior and stupid. The school curriculum becomes a "shame"-based experience and therefore fails miserably with these students. There must be multiple ways for success in school and that requires a broader experiential program with attention to the individual's total growth.

Tom Swain (9) (10) (10) (10) (10)


The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Core participants include persons of varying political persuasions,
reflecting years of leadership in politics and business. Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

   David Broden,  Janis Clay,  Bill Frenzel,  Paul Gilje,   Jan Hively,  Dan Loritz (Chair),  Marina Lyon,  Joe Mansky, 
Tim McDonald,  John Mooty,  Jim Olson,  Wayne Popham  and Bob White

The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
2104 Girard Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55405.
Dan Loritz, chair, 612-791-1919   ~   Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.

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