BestPrep was fortunate to be interviewed by Clare Kennedy at the Minneapolis – St. Paul Business Journal about our 40th anniversary. Check out the excerpt below and be sure to view the full story online.
On the cusp of its 40th anniversary, Brooklyn Park-based BestPrep has a $1 million-plus budget and a reach that extends to 60,000 Minnesota K-12 students each year.
From the beginning, the program has had generous support from the local corporate community. Its founding partners were 3M Co., General Mills Inc., Cargill Inc. and Ecolab Inc., all of which have given BestPrep 40 years of assistance. Its corporate-support roster has since grown to include Wells Fargo & Co., Allianz Life Insurance Co. of North America and Allstate, among many others.
BestPrep takes a hands-on approach to teaching students about the work and business world.
“We do it with experiences. We have six different programs and they’re all different ways to [accomplish] the same thing: [produce] students who are college-prepared, work-ready and career-bound,” said CEO and President Bob Kaitz. “That’s our mantra.”
BestPrep was born after Kaitz, then an economics teacher at Breck, toured 3M’s headquarters at the behest of one of its executives, a Breck trustee who felt that the school’s curriculum should be more experiential. Kaitz helmed the pilot project from its launch in 1973 through its official inception in 1976. He’s led BestPrep through the four decades since.
Corporate volunteerism is an essential part of BestPrep’s makeup, a stroke of good fortune given millennial workers’ bent toward hands-on service.
“Over the last 10 years, [corporate interest in volunteering] has just exploded for us,” Kaitz said.
The organization now boasts a 4,000-strong corps of corporate volunteers, who regularly go to schools to lecture on finance and career building, mentor students through its e-mentoring program and staff the nonprofit’s summer camps.