Facing Race Idea Challenge: Engaging youth to reduce racism


Community voters chose two youth-focused projects as the winners in the Saint Paul Foundation’s Facing Race Idea Challenge. Nearly 50 Minnesotans submitted their ideas to reduce racism in their communities as part of The Saint Paul Foundation’s Facing Race We’re All in This Together initiative.

“Through our Facing Race initiative, the Saint Paul Foundation is committed long term to creating communities where everyone feels safe, valued and respected,” says Rowzat Shipchandler, Racial Equity Manager for The Saint Paul Foundation.  “We will continue to look for creative ways to support racial equity work at the community level.”

When the polls closed on June 30, it was clear community voters feel the solution lies in engaging youth. The two top-vote getting ideas will receive $2,500 implementation grants.

Project s.t.a.r.t. Leadership –Kate Towle of Minneapolis

Project s.t.a.r.t. Leadership is a youth-driven initiative that engages Minneapolis Public School students as leaders in racial equity work. S.t.a.r.t. stands for “students together against racial tension.” Kate Towle will apply her grant to support curriculum development and outreach. Towle will act as an “adult ally,” to provide students the support and training they need to act as young equity leaders and “bridges” between cultural groups.

“The heart of Project s.t.a.r.t. is that we have to engage students in making our schools safe, respectful, and culturally-competent,” said Towle.

Youth Peacekeepers –Jake Branchaud-Linsk of Saint Paul

Jake Branchaud-Linsk will use the Facing Race Idea Challenge grant to provide conflict resolution and communication training to groups of diverse high school students for use in facilitating conversations about race with younger peer groups. His inspiration for the idea came from his youth engagement work at the Dispute Resolution Center in Saint Paul.

“I want to help youth apply good communication and mediation skills to discussions about race,” said Branchaud-Linsk. “Working with youth on this topic is exciting because we can make an early impact. They have their whole lives ahead of them to use the skills they’ll acquire through Youth Peacekeepers.”

Want to be a part of this conversation? You can still visit www.incommons.org/facingracechallenge to view the entries and add your comments and additional ideas.