We believe our community can achieve OneMinneapolis. We’ve seen success. We know it’s possible. The following are a few efforts The Minneapolis Foundation and many of our donors support to help close the opportunity gaps in education, employment, housing, elected representation and other measures that continue to threaten our success.
Business finds sweet success
Robert and Zacharus Turner, the father-son duo behind the tasty treats at Southern Delights, began their small business at Kindred Kitchen after struggling to find a commercial kitchen for more than four years. Since then, they’ve grown their business and have even hired a new chef to accommodate their growing demand.
Investing in small businesses and underserved neighborhoods makes our whole community stronger. Nearly 10 percent of Minneapolis residents are self-employed, small business owners. Small businesses have generated 64% of net new jobs over the past 15 years. The Minneapolis Foundation supports Catalyst Community Partners, who runs Kindred Kitchen, as part of a revitalization of West Broadway Avenue, a main artery of North Minneapolis. Community development agencies like Catalyst that are attuned to the specific needs of their clients allow small businesses to grow and help struggling neighborhoods become thriving commercial corridors that draw human and investment capital.
Making the most of a second chance
After serving a 3-year prison sentence, Michael* knew he wanted to change his life. Upon release, he enrolled in Project for Pride in Living’s “Excellence in Manufacturing” class. Within a month of his training, Michael landed a full-time job at a local business earning $10 an hour plus benefits.
Minneapolis has one of the largest gaps in employment between whites and communities color in the nation where only 51% of working-age American Indian adults and only 58% of working-age Black adults are employed. Project for Pride in Living helps chronically unemployed and underemployed individuals earn a legal, living wage that instills a sense of pride in the individual, his or her family, and our community.
Not just a roof, a foundation
Twenty-six-year-old Ashley* enjoys her job as a mall supervisor and attends Minneapolis Community & Technical College. Things weren’t going as well for this mother of two a few years ago when her son was diagnosed with epilepsy and cerebral palsy. His health issues threatened to end her school career and employment prospects. Almost 70% of Minneapolis families in poverty are headed by a female with no partner present. And like many single parents, Ashley struggled to care for her children’s immediate needs while taking the steps needed to give them a more stable future. With help from The Jeremiah Program, Ashley found an affordable place to live, support from other single mothers, and help connecting her son with the services he needs.
Transforming lives and landscapes
While improving individual odds, these organizations are also making deeper changes to positively affect as many people as possible. Summit Academy OIC, for example, runs a successful training program in construction work. Such high-paying, skilled work is a ticket to self-sufficiency, but only if jobs are available. That’s why Summit also works with the City of Minneapolis and the State of Minnesota to increase minority participation in publicly-subsidized development projects. Efforts like this will hopefully help Minnesota lose its status as home to the nation’s largest employment gap between whites (6.4% unemployment rate) and African Americans (22% unemployment rate). With everyone working, we will all do better.
The new face of the PTA
As the smallest racial group in the Minneapolis Public Schools, American Indian students often feel invisible and their needs go unmet. At 21% their four-year graduation rates are Minneapolis’ lowest. It’s part of a painful history: just three generations ago, American Indians were removed from their homes and sent to schools that erased all signs of Native culture. As a result, bringing Native culture into the schools has proven to be a powerful way to engage American Indian families, and overcome a legacy of mistrust.
The Minneapolis Foundation supports the nonprofit MIGIZI (“eagle” in Ojibwe) in involving more American Indian parents in education. After parents who participated in MIGIZI’s program saw how the school community responded to a Powwow they organized, they felt motivated to take the next step: surveying other American Indian parents to identify concerns and share them with the Minneapolis School Board. They’re taking ownership of their children’s needs, working with the schools, and showing their children how central education is to their family and culture.
Connecting Caring Adults with Kids: Tried-and-True Ingredient for Success in School & Life
Before participating in North High School’s Girls in Action (GIA) program, Monica* was a promising, but at-risk youth. She was underperforming in school, and didn’t have support outside her family. GIA engages local leaders to serve as mentors, career coaches, and chaperones to girls in the program. The program gave Monica the support needed to perform well in school, gain life skills, and cope with racial bias. After getting connected with a GIA mentor, Monica became the first in her family to attend college – an inspiring and catalytic event that shaped her whole family’s future. Monica is now a senior at Dillard University, her mother is enrolled in college, and her younger siblings are both entering college.
Twenty-seven percent of Minneapolis Public School students report they don’t have a caring adult outside of their family. Research shows that a supportive and caring adult can play a critical role in helping young people overcome barriers to education and decrease their chances of being involved in violence. In an effort to eliminate youth violence, the City of Minneapolis adopted a Blueprint for Action, and one of the four goals of the plan is to connect every youth to a caring adult. The Minneapolis Foundation has funded GIA to support young women. Programs like GIA are a testimony to the fact that when youth are supported, their life trajectory can change dramatically.
From Truancy and Back: Angela Gets Her Life on Track
At 16, Angela endured a dangerous housing situation, was a truant student, and was pregnant with no assistance from family or other sources. Attendance is critical to academic success, and the consequences of poor attendance are serious for youth, schools, and our community. Low attendance often leads to dropping out, which is often related to juvenile delinquency. Across all grades in Minneapolis Public Schools, American Indians students were least likely to have strong attendance with only 33% of students showing up for school 95 percent or more days, followed by Black students at 48%.
After beginning case management at The Link, Angela was connected to health resources to assist with her pregnancy, a job through Tree Trust, and a parenting program through Genesis II. With these resources, Angela is now back at her old school and her case manager is confident that she will successfully graduate. The Minneapolis Foundation and our donors have funded The Link, Tree Trust, and Genesis II to make sure our young people have the opportunities they need to build a positive future for themselves.
*Names have been changed.