The third annual Roy Wilkins Community Fellows Program capped off last week with a meeting at The Minneapolis Foundation at which participants gave presentations on a variety of public policy issues.
The Fellows Program is an intensive one-week boot camp for local nonprofit leaders whose organizations serve communities of color. Led by Dr. Samuel Myers, the workshop was developed by the Roy Wilkins Center at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs in partnership with The Minneapolis Foundation.
Wilkins Fellows get an introduction to policy analysis techniques and methods of evaluating the effectiveness of programs that specifically target communities of color. The program culminates with a research project in which Fellows team up to study and give presentations on policy issues such as police accountability, public transit, and affordable housing.
“This (workshop) was a really good opportunity to learn the skills, the concepts, and the theories around policy analysis,” said Kathy Mouacheupao, a program officer for creative placemaking at Twin Cities LISC and one of this year’s Wilkins Fellows.
Fellows are chosen through a competitive process, with this year’s workshop drawing more than 60 applicants. The 2016 cohort included 22 participants from organizations such as Minnesota Voice, the Northside Achievement Zone, and Bii Gii Wiin Community Development Loan Fund.
A key goal of the program is to equip nonprofit leaders with tools to incorporate advocacy into their own work, supporting them as they speak up for equitable policies.
For example, one Wilkins Fellow directs the Office of Black Male Student Achievement for Minneapolis Public Schools. “My role is to support black males, and some of the things that we need to do are to get policies changed in our system in order to support those black males,” Michael Walker said. The Fellows Program, he said, was “a great training ground” to build skills in support of that goal.