New funding will allow creatives to develop videography skills and promote workforce development in the area.
Jemini Phillips, a 25-year-old recording artist, wanted to foster her growing passion for artist development and marketing.
So she reached out to video production company Youth Lens 360 to jumpstart that career.
“I feel influential,” Phillips said. “I feel like I’m on my way to success and just building the start of a better life for myself.”
Phillips was one of six members of the first E3L cohort, a six-month training program for entrepreneurs from 18 to 25 years old. Dario Otero, CEO of Youth Lens 360, created the cohort — named after exposure, environment, experience and legacy — to educate young creatives in videography, photography and storytelling.
The goal of the program is twofold. First, to teach the participants new skills. And second, to help educate even more young people on potential job opportunities through the content the cohort will create. For example, Otero mentioned the group might interview St. Paul-area business owners and then edit together a video to share with the community.
Wednesday marked an informal launch of the new cohort at Strengthen the Strong, a networking lunch held monthly in St. Paul. Founders Kelsey Joson and Anissa Lightner — who started the lunch in September 2021 — said it was a “no-brainer” to partner with the program, as Otero had supported the lunches from the start.
“This lunch is a really great balance of new entrepreneurs, new founders, young minds and then more veteran, more-seasoned business owners that have an opportunity to do good and invest in the younger generations,” Joson said. “It’s so beautiful to have a launch party for the cohort.”
St. Paul and Ramsey County are financing the cohort with funds from the federal American Rescue Plan Act. Ling Becker, director of Ramsey County Workforce Solutions, said the “creative genius” and “economic competitiveness” of the county lies in its diverse youth.
“The power of young people is just so unharnessed in this community, and we’re really trying to double down on betting on their success,” Becker said.
All six of the cohort’s members are from the Twin Cities and have deep connections to Ramsey County. Each of them have personal business goals with passions in a variety of creative fields.