Summit Academy is proud to announce the Scaling Up Campaign!

Learn About the Scaling Up Campaign


Your Donation Supports Life-Changing Education and Changes Lives

Summit Academy OIC assists individuals in developing their ability to earn and become contributing citizens to their communities. We equip students with education, skills, and networks to overcome barriers to economic opportunity. Our fundamental belief is that the best social service program in the world is a job!

Our vision is to help foster the creation of communities where adults work, children learn, and everyone thrives. In just 20 weeks, our vocational training programs move students from unemployment or minimum wage jobs to family-supporting careers.


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Donation Total: $50.00 for 12

At Summit Academy OIC, we hold fast to the belief that the best social service program in the world is a job. For almost 60 years, Summit Academy has been moving families out of poverty into careers and prosperity through 20 weeks of accredited training, with no fees to students who graduate debt free.

Our students seek economic independence and want to realize their potential. Our region faces workforce challenges that disproportionately impact communities of color, and for our economy to thrive, every capable person must participate in it. Our programs were chosen specifically in the industries that are powering our economy, and our employer partners are providing our students with a path to the middle class.

To achieve the goal of greater personal and economic impact for our students and our community, Summit Academy is mounting the $13 million Scaling Up for Greater Impact campaign.

Transcript – Summit Academy OIC: Marcel Hofker’s Story

MIRIAM WILLIAMS: There’s something about helping people change their lives that I just, I love doing it.


MARCEL HOFKER: You know, I didn’t know I was different until I moved out to the suburbs. All of a sudden, I was the n-word.


I had to fit in and I’d never felt that before.

I just tried to be undeniable in my sports. If I’m in the first line of the hockey team, it can’t be that I’m kept out because of somebody’s own ignorance.

It was my goal in life to go to college. And when I got injured, that just brought me in a different direction.


And, doing drugs and selling drugs was what I came out of it with.

Everybody likes to see their drug dealer at the party. It filled that hole that I had, to be needed and to be part of something.

Started having attitudes with my parents. I moved out, got a place over by my high school, I just, lived on my own. I still graduated high school.


At that point, I was doing methamphetamine and a lot of party drugs.

You know, every conversation was about drugs. Getting drugs, sourcing them, whatever it was. And everybody I hung out with, that was their life too.

I’d go through a raid and be like: “That’s it, I’m done.” I’d go to treatment. That would last for a little bit, but, there’s a whole lot of pieces that have to be put together to have a successful recovery.

Just because a person’s an addiction and living in a criminal lifestyle, doesn’t mean they’re not a good person.


I’ve disappointed plenty of other people in my life, but every time I disappoint them, I’m disappointing myself. And I just got really tired of that. Finally went to treatment, before I went to prison —

I didn’t want to die.

That was pretty much the only solution. It was get clean, or die.

I got out in November of 2016, and went to Summit in February of 2017.


MIRIAM WILLIAMS: It’s different, at Summit. These are students who just wouldn’t have the same chance elsewhere. Even the financial model we use for tuition is often a draw for people who would’ve just normally been marginalized right out of the education system.

MARCEL HOFKER: I was able to go there, not get debt, and build something out of it.


MIRIAM WILLIAMS: It’s amazing to hear Marcel’s story because I know that his story starts the same way that all of the Summit stories start. It started with that information session, when he sat in the ugly orange chairs in our cafeteria and learned about Summit’s programs.

MARCEL HOFKER: I picked electrical because it’s always evolving. New technology comes up constantly and I figured, “Hey, this will keep me engaged”, because I can continuously learn new things. And then, I can start to specialize.

MIRIAM WILLIAMS: I think the first thing they buy into is that this is maybe the first place where they feel like success is possible. You’re learning from the best, in an environment that we hope is the best for you.

MARCEL HOFKER: It wasn’t just a 10,000 foot view of what it is to be an electrician. You knew that you could do something with what you learned there. It gave me the opportunity to show up, be where I’m supposed to be, and perform and do what I’m supposed to do.

MIRIAM WILLIAMS: We want you to be successful, because we know that that impacts the community and your family as well.

MARCEL HOFKER: I went straight to the electrical union and the great thing about that, for somebody coming from my background, is everybody you work with has gone through the same thing that you’re going through, and then you feel like you fit in.

A lot of times in my life, I’ve felt the imposter syndrome. I personally recommend Summit to people that have backgrounds like me. And I think a lot of people feel that there’s like a natural cut-off time and everybody has a different time, like, “Oh, it’s too late”.

If you’re still breathing, it’s not too late.

MIRIAM WILLIAMS: When I see things like we saw with, you know, the marches and protests, particularly after George Floyd’s murder— Those events have the opportunity to reshape a city. And what we’ve seen is that there’s a lot of talk out there. When you come to Summit, we know that you’re serious about doing something different.

MARCEL HOFKER: If we bring more opportunities to people, we’ll start seeing changes in our community.

MIRIAM WILLIAMS: And it’s an opportunity, I think, for a donor to realize that they can play an important part in that happening.

Making Change TOGETHER

A gift to Summit provides a “hand up” to those working to improve their economic security. Tuition at Summit is priced at $7,410, but because of the generosity of our donors, no student ever pays out-of-pocket to attend.

Systemic lack of access to education and employment has created a permanent underclass for too many in our community. Summit’s training programs and support services are needed now more than ever. Your gift provides more access to individuals looking to change the trajectory of their lives.

More Ways to Give

Double your donation! You and your employer can support the important work of Summit Academy OIC. Many companies match employee donations and volunteerism, and may even match gifts from spouses and retirees. See if your company has a matching gift program, and increase the impact of your gift.

Donor Advised Funds (DAFs) can provide you with immediate tax benefits while making your charitable giving easier. Consider demonstrating your support of our mission to equip individuals with the tools they need to change their lives by making a contribution from your DAF.

You can click here to seamlessly donate directly from your fund to Summit Academy OIC.

Helping someone in need is a great way to honor a special person in your life or commemorate milestones. Tribute giving affords you the opportunity to recognize, honor, and celebrate the people and events important to you. You can make a gift in their honor today and the recipient will receive notification from us, sent on your behalf, which can include your personal message.

Your tax-deductible sponsorship of Summit’s Annual Golf Classic & Summer Party or other event is not only a great way to gain visibility for your company and to give back to your community, but it’s also a great way of personally helping provide a pipeline of skilled and diverse labor to regional employers. Contact Sarah Armstrong, Chief Development Officer, at or 612-278-7363 to learn more.

Making a gift to Summit Academy OIC in the form of appreciated stock or mutual funds allows you to have an immediate impact on our work to create opportunity, stability and prosperity in the community, while also possibly paying less in income taxes. We recommend that you consult a tax professional with any specific questions. Contact Sarah Armstrong, Chief Development Officer, at or 612-278-7363 with gift of stock questions or notification that a gift is on the way.

Summit Academy OIC is the perfect place to make a lasting impact on your community! We’ve got a variety of opportunities to suit your schedule, from once-a-week commitments to just a few times each year. The amount of time you spend is up to you! Not only will you learn more about Summit Academy and its mission, but you’ll get to know our students and can positively affect their lives. Volunteer with us!

The Impact of Your Gift

A gift of $125 Will pay for a student to take the GED exam
A gift of $275 Provides a construction carpentry program graduate with their own tool kit
A gift of $3,700 Allows 15 IT students to take the CompTIA+ certification exam
3332 Students placed in a career since 2008
Percent of Summit’s Student Body Who Identify as POC 73% The median age was 27 years old, and 69% self-identified as male and 30% female.
A gift of $7,410 Covers the cost of career training and support services for a student at Summit
Average student post-graduation earnings $40,160 average student post-graduation earnings
Handshake icon - grey version 64% students were low-income before coming to Summit
Number of students who were unemployed before Summit 46% students were unemployed before Summit
2022 Summit Academy OIC Annual Report Cover


“The Best Social Service in World is a Job…”

At Summit Academy OIC, our commitment to moving people out of poverty by equipping them with the knowledge and skills they need to get good-paying, in-demand jobs is stronger than ever. Demand for a skilled and diverse workforce remains strong in the seven-county Twin Cities metro area, but there are students and employers alike beyond that who would benefit greatly from our programs.