3 minute read / Research / STRATEGY

Partnering with ECMC Group to Close Racial Equity Gaps

We explored the needs for young Black adults aged 16-25 rooted in their lived experiences to give them pathways to long-term careers - not just jobs.


Black Minnesotan students graduate from high school 13% less often than white Minnesotan students. ECMC Group brought our team in to create an experience that engages the full workforce ecosystem to close the racial equity gap persistent in the Twin Cities.


Guiding our thinking, direction, and solutions was a group of 25 Black young adults aged 16-25. Their perspectives and input were a critical differentiator and their involvement in co-designing solutions was inspiring, enlightening, and created impact.


Our initial hypothesis was that a tool would connect the ecosystem of stakeholders and make pathways to careers easier for Black students. Our youth advisory group proved this wrong.


The young adults indicated the needed that … and more. They needed a sense of belonging, clear connections in the ecosystem and opportunities to build valuable experiences that provided pathways to life-changing jobs. We considered this a groundbreaking and project-shifting discovery that would change our concepts – for the better.

The six concepts we created and tested

Moments that Matter

With the guidance of the youth advisory group, we created and tested six concepts from identified opportunity areas. These concepts ranged from 1-on-1 career pathway support to an employer playbook. During concept testing, the youth advisory group gave feedback on each concept to help our team recommend which concepts should be prioritized for ECMC Group to develop and implement. Here are some resounding themes we heard from the young adults:

  • Black young adults know the system isn't working for them
  • The career decision-making process is highly influential
  • Seeing the amount of experience needed on entry-level jobs is frustrating
  • Black young adults are craving stability in finances, community, and purpose
  • Feeling like they don't belong is a core anxiety
  • There is a motivation to explore and continue their growth in learning
"Because no one looks like you, no one really talks like you and, I'm tired of code switching - doing all that and trying to be presentable. Just having to have these high standards that people are just like, you know, 'you're not good enough.'"
Ann P.
Youth Advisory Group Participant
"ECMC Group has a mission to help students succeed, this work was a unique opportunity to explore ways to understand an incredibly complex ecosystem and create solutions to close the persistent equity gaps in Minnesota.

We were thrilled with our initial impact and could not have done it without Rêve’s strategic approach, human-centered leadership and thought partnership. In particular, we were delighted to have the young adults be co-designers of the solutions which embodies our core values."
Heidi Johnson
Senior Vice President, ECMC Group


We created a complete ecosystem experience for Black young adults aged 16-25. The idea is that a young adult could follow this experience from high school to their first job and receive connection, support, and a place to belong. This holistic pathway that focuses on creating connections and putting young adults in control stands out among thousands of other solutions in the marketplace. From the concept testing, we created an implementation roadmap for ECMC Group, and the development of the first concept is slated to start later this fall. If you’re interested in learning more about the project the executive summary we created and ECMC Group’s campaign, Question the Quo, are great resources to see the impact ECMC Group in making in the future of education. 

Co-Lab Concept Journeymap

Key Deliverables