MLK Day march covered broad spectrum of human-rights issues

Over 100 people braved below-zero temperatures Monday, Jan.21, to march in the Second Annual MLK, Jr. March for Jobs, Justice and Housing organized by Occupy the Hood MN. The march’s aim was to honor the human rights legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.Participants took to the skyways after marching for five blocks in the freezing cold down Hennepin Avenue in downtown Minneapolis. Marchers included activists fighting for welfare rights, housing rights, immigrant rights and labor rights.Advocates for better quality public education for all joined the march with Native Americans from the Idle No More movement. Speakers denounced police brutality, disparities between Blacks and Whites in Twin Cities jobs, and discrimination against people with arrest records and felonies as the group rallied briefly in the Hennepin County Government Center.Marchers took to the skyways for relief from the cold.“It’s winter, but spring is coming,” shouted speaker Mel Reeves (right) to the crowd. “It’s still winter, ’cause things have not changed as much as we would liked in the 45 years since MLK’s death, but spring is coming.”Reeves, an activist, organizer and journalist, was one of the principal organizers of the event for Occupy the Hood MN. Continue Reading

A year later, wrapping up the North Minneapolis tornado money chase

Almost immediately after the tornado struck North Minneapolis in May 2011, the Minneapolis Foundation established its Minnesota Helps Fund and raised $1,756,060 to assist Northside residents. Many other groups and organizations furthered the cause with food drives and fundraising events.On July 14, MSR began a series of stories called “Chasing the Tornado Money” with the following subhead: “Community individuals, local corporations and foundations have contributed well over a million dollars in donations, grants and matching funds to assist North Minneapolis residents affected by the May 22 tornado. Responding to questions from readers about where all these dollars are going, the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder decided to provide a community service by reporting, in the interest of transparency, on just where the funds have gone and how they have been used.”One year and several “Chasing the Tornado Money” stories later, the MSR interviews three individuals representing three major contributors to the recovery effort — the foundation, the participating community organizations, and the Northside Community Response Team — on how they now view the work completed and the relief provided to storm victims through funds totaling more than $2 million.The Foundation“Our fundraising efforts were really concentrated on the first year [of the recovery],” reports Minneapolis Foundation Grantmaking and Special Projects Director Jo-Anne Stately. “We know that the amount of destruction that happened in North Minneapolis is significant. This is the most money that we raised in the shortest period of time in our history that was related to a disaster.”Highlights in the foundation’s “Report to the Community” released in May this year include:Over 51,000 individuals received food and cooking supplies.Nearly 300 homes were repaired.1,233 households got assistance from local agencies.It “was an opportunity to show [that] a community foundation like the Minneapolis Foundation can work and partner together in a very quick time to address some very immediate needs,” explains Stately.The Minnesota Helps — North Minneapolis Recovery Fund distributed the donated money across six general service areas: basic needs ($296,284), case management ($428,250), children and youth ($292,593), employment ($307,533), housing ($339,400), and small business ($92,000).“All the funds have been granted,” says Stately.When asked for a more detailed breakdown of these funds and how they were used, Stately said that “it’s up to the grantees” (those receiving the funds) to publicly disclose how the grants were disbursed. Continue Reading