Transforming Policy Analysis in Communities of Color

The Roy Wilkins Community Fellows Program is a week-long intensive workshop that helps local leaders of color become stronger community advocates. Now in its second year, the program targets mid-level nonprofit leaders, bringing them together to learn methods of assessing the impact of public policies and, ultimately, to advance equitable policy measures in the community.

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. Fellows are selected through a competitive process, with this year’s workshop drawing more than 50 applications. The 2015 cohort, which completed the program in June, included 19 nonprofit leaders from AccessAbility, Little Earth of United Tribes, and Pillsbury United Community, to name a few.

Fellows capped off the 2015 workshop by working in teams to research and give presentations on public policy issues such as police and community relations, health disparities, education, and unemployment.

In the workshop, Dr. Myers helps local leaders develop skills to help them conduct high-quality, objective policy analysis—while keeping race and ethnicity at the center of the conversation. When analyzing a policy, many researchers might simply ask, “Does it work?” The Roy Wilkins Center challenges them to go further and ask, “Does this policy work for communities of color?”

The workshop offered valuable lessons, said Amber Michel, a civic engagement manager at CAIR Minnesota and one of this year’s fellows. “It’s been a really powerful transformative experience for us in terms of developing our community leadership skills.”

Wilkins Community Fellows Program