equity agenda

New support bolsters racial disparities bills, but opposition looms

K.B. Brown is a father of two, engaged to be married, a lifelong Minneapolitan and co-owner of a small business in Northeast called Wolf Pack Promotionals. He dreams of being the largest promotional printer in the state and of starting a youth internship program in the Twin Cities. Along with everything else, he advocates for small business owners.

“My vision for this business is to be the No. 1 printer for the nonprofits and small businesses in the state. I’ll start with the state. The country? I’d be okay with that. But I’ll start with the state. Let’s affect my community first. I believe change is beautiful, I believe change can happen and will happen, but I believe it starts with my community first, everyone else second,” Brown said.

He, and thousands of people like him, are hoping the Minnesota Legislature takes real action this year on Minnesota’s startling racial and economic disparities. At the same time, community groups are working to develop policies, frameworks and priorities that center racial justice as their core objective for the legislature to address. Continue Reading

Three Minnesota bills addressing racial disparities you need to follow

The recession might be over, but not for Black Minnesotans. In 2014, the incomes of Black Minnesotans were the lowest they had been since 2008. With the average salary for Black Minnesotans at $27,000 per year, the rate is nothing compared to Minnesota’s average income for all residents at nearly $68,000 annually, said the Minnesota State Demographer Susan Brower who recently presented at the Legislative Working Group on Economic Disparities.

And according to a memo by Sen. Bobby Joe Champion at that same working group, about 9 percent of Black students and almost 11 percent of Latino students dropped out of Minnesota high schools last year. Further, almost 24,000 Black adults in Minnesota have not earned a high school diploma or equivalence.

Even though these statistics have persisted in some form for years, they finally have the attention of the Minnesota Legislature. In an effort to decrease these and others of Minnesota’s startling racial and economic disparities, the state legislature has introduced several proposals that they hope might be a first step towards equity for all Minnesotans. Continue Reading

Sudden closing of Community Action of Minneapolis shifts energy assistance responsibility

Minneapolis residents who received energy assistance from the nonprofit Community Action of Minneapolis were told this week that they will now be receiving their services through Community Action Partnership of Suburban Hennepin. According to an article from the Star Tribune this week, the office of Community Action of Minneapolis was raided by employees of the Department of Commerce and the Department of Human Services and its employees laid off. This followed a state audit that showed several discrepancies in the organization’s funding and governance practices,  as well as expenses for things like spa trips, golf outings, and a car loan. In the days following the raid, all of the organization’s contracts were distributed to the Community Action Partnership of Southern Hennepin (CAPSH). “The Energy Assistance Program provides a vital safety net to thousands of low-income individuals and families and allows them to maintain affordable, continuous, and safe home energy” said CAPSH’s executive director Scott Zemke in a press release. Continue Reading