Story 18 – Mike Harper

Jan 24, 2022

Mike Harper has a gray beard and wears a Rise zip-up and glasses while softly smiling.

A grant program to support Lindstrom youth searching for work brought Mike Harper to Rise in 1994.

His passion for working with youth developed early in Harper’s career and has continued for nearly 30 years. And today his dedication includes people of many ages, abilities and situations throughout central Minnesota.

Based out of Lindstrom, Harper directs Rise programs in nine counties from St. Cloud to Center City. “What makes us unique is our understanding of the services and the quality and talent of the staff that we have,” he said.

Programs in central Minnesota include community employment services, mental health services, re-entry programs, housing supports and vocational evaluations, to name a few. Harper and his team also open the Lindstrom office to the community through clothing and furniture donation programs.

“Since we had the facility and the community had a need, we started collecting used clothing for people—both interview clothing and work clothing,” he said. “We also started accepting household furnishings which we give to anyone in need, not just people served by Rise.”
He’s proud of the work done and the program expansion these past 30 years but says he’s most proud of his teams who have supported thousands of people throughout our history.

“Working in my community and seeing improvement in my community makes me proud,” Harper said. “Having our services be of value and being known and producing good outcomes while trying to meet all people’s needs is especially important.”