Cultivating youth leadership

Growing healthy communities


Urban Roots is a Saint Paul organization with a mission to build vibrant and healthy communities through food, conservation and youth development. We cultivate youth leaders and support healthy communities on the city’s East Side through paid internship programs that provide hands-on learning and foster critical life skills around entrepreneurial thinking, resilience and collaboration. Urban Roots experiential “earn as you learn” programs are grounded in improving urban food systems, supporting and fostering connection to Saint Paul’s parks and green spaces, and promoting active living.

Our Vision

Our vision is to be a leader and innovator in using food, conservation and youth development programs so that youth and community members can:

• Gain opportunities for leadership, service and career connections

• Engage with their community and environment

• Learn about and access healthy food

Our Values

Collaboration – Together we can achieve more than if we act alone.

Inclusivity – All are welcome while we recognize and celebrate diversity

Stewardship – Notice, understand, and respect the natural environment

Opportunity – Open eyes and hearts to new possibilities

Discovery – Enriching new experiences lead to learning and engagement

Our History

We’ve been in Saint Paul building community capacity and setting up youth for success for 19 years!
Urban Roots, formerly Community Design Center of Minnesota, was incorporated in 1969. Over the years, we have provided a range of community development services in Minneapolis, Saint Paul and southern Minnesota, including architecture, urban planning, economic development and organizational development—with a common thread of empowerment, engagement and innovation. We have operated our food and environmental programs on the East Side of Saint Paul since 1996, engaging thousands of youth in education, training, and work projects that provide service to the community, develop young leaders and improve health and the environment. In 2016, we reached nearly 3600 community members through classes, tours, and hands-on activities.

Get involved as a volunteer.