Adair Mosley, CEO & President, Departing Pillsbury United Communities

MINNEAPOLIS, MN, AUGUST 16, 2022—Pillsbury United Communities Board of Directors announced today that Adair Mosley will transition out of his role as President and CEO. He will leave September 30 and will step into the role of CEO of the African American Leadership Forum in October.

Mosley has been President and CEO for the past five years and has been with the organization for 11. His time as agency leader has spanned philanthropic and community shifts, devastating tragedies, a global pandemic, and an uprising for social justice. Throughout it all, he has been a champion of meeting the moment with transformative innovation and investment. During his tenure, the agency’s budget grew from $12 million to $16 million. His accomplishments include:

    • Opening North Market, a full-service grocery store in North Minneapolis
    • Establishing Justice Built Communities, an economic development initiative with $20M in starting capital that will build equity in land, labor, entrepreneurship, and capital for Black Minnesotans.
    • Receiving a $1.5 million state appropriation to launch a career and early college program.
    • Securing a $750,000 investment from the Kresge Foundation to launch a policy and mobilization department and $1 million from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota to focus on social determinants of health through cross sector partnership.
    • Raising $1 million to give every member of the North High graduating class of 2022 a post-secondary scholarship

“When I took over this role, I promised to lead ‘change at the speed of community.’ Today, I leave an organization that is fiscally healthy and even more committed to dismantling systems of oppression,” said Mosley. “I am so proud of all that we have accomplished together. I look forward to my next chapter galvanizing policy makers, philanthropy, and corporate partners in pursuit of community’s agenda, and I look forward to doing it in ongoing relationship with Pillsbury United.”

“Thanks to Adair and his leadership team, the tireless staff, extraordinarily generous donors and supporters, PUC is in an exceptionally strong position,” said Heath Rudduck, chair of the board of directors. “We’ll miss Adair tremendously, but he has helped prepare us for the next chapter of the organization’s growth and its steadfast commitment to the prosperity of the communities, people and places we serve.”

The board of directors is in the process of initiating a national search for the agency’s next leader. In the interim, Brenna Brelie, head of operations, will serve as CEO. Brelie has been with the agency for eight years and played a key role in the leadership transition between Mosley and his predecessor, Chanda Smith Baker.

“I’m grateful to have worked alongside Adair for the past eight years. His visionary leadership has changed the trajectory of this organization, and he will definitely be missed,” said Brelie. “However, I am confident our board of directors will find the next passionate leader to continue this legacy at Pillsbury United Communities.”

About Pillsbury United Communities

Pillsbury United Communities is one of Minnesota’s most well-established organizations with 140+ years of service to diverse communities across the Twin Cities and beyond. Pillsbury United Communities has an annual operating budget of $16M (including affiliates) and 150 change agents. We are community builders co-creating enduring change toward a just society where every person has personal, social, and economic power. Our united system of programs, neighborhood centers, social enterprises, and partnerships connects individuals and their families across the region. More information about Pillsbury United Communities is available at www.pillsburyunited.org

Our impact in 2020

2020 was not normal. Two pandemics bore down on our community, bringing hardship we could hardly have imagined. One was a virus that isolated, sickened, and killed. The other was the plague of systemic racism, embodied in the horrendous murder of George Floyd and the anguished fury it unleashed.

These tragedies shook our community to its core and hit many of us painfully close to home. Some lost livelihoods. Some lost loved ones. Others lost trust in institutions that were supposed to protect them. Many were retraumatized by continued examples of systemic racism.

The pain continues to reverberate. We will be picking up the pieces for years.

Although no one saw the trials of 2020 coming, Pillsbury United was prepared to rise to the moment. Across our agency, staff moved quickly and fearlessly to ease suffering, rebuild, and respond to the crisis with compassion, imagination, and hope.

In 2020, we…

  • Distributed over one million pounds of food and household essentials via our Brian Coyle Center and Waite House food shelves.
  • Disbursed $540,828 in housing relief to neighbors impacted by COVID-19.
  • Provided 121 young people with paid, virtual internships at our neighborhood centers and social enterprises.
  • Supported 160 immigrant women with advocacy services via the Immigrant Women’s Advocacy Program.
  • Connected 341 unhoused young people with housing, employment, and other services via Full Cycle.

And that’s only a snapshot of the work we accomplished last year. Out of a crisis, a more just society can emerge. This is what justice looks like.

Learn more about the magnitude of our impact in 2020—and the broad community support that made it possible—by viewing our 2020 annual report.

Pillsbury United Launches Justice Built Communities Initiative

Rendering of street life on a revitalized W Broadway Ave

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (May 25, 2021) – Pillsbury United Communities (Pillsbury United), an agency with a 140-year legacy of recognizing and amplifying the assets and aspirations of the communities living in historically underinvested neighborhoods across Minneapolis, today announced the launch of the Justice Built Communities (JBC) initiative. JBC will leverage land, labor, entrepreneurship and capital to build equitable economic development for Black residents across the region starting in north Minneapolis. The initiative will be powered by a network of regional and neighborhood partners.

As a first step, JBC will purchase vacant land, buildings, and other disused properties for neighborhood redevelopment. It closed on its first property earlier this month when it purchased the old O’Reilly Auto Parts property at 1601 and 1625 West Broadway along with the adjacent property at 1622 Golden Valley Road, Minneapolis. JBC will use a community-centered design process to inform the redevelopment plans, which will provide opportunities, guidance and financial support to help local, Black-owned enterprises get established and grow. Over time, JBC will bridge land ownership back to local entrepreneurs to build generational wealth.

Pillsbury United has already raised $6 million for the JBC startup fund and intends to raise an additional $14 million through philanthropy and program/mission-related related investments by end of year for acquisition of neglected properties and pre-development capital. Initial investors include US Bank Foundation, Bank of America, GHR Foundation, Margaret A Cargill Fund of the Minneapolis Foundation, Target Foundation, Opus Foundation and Otto Bremer Trust. A variety of innovative financial structures including debt, equity, and NMTC will be used for project-specific development costs.

The initiative’s work will be co-designed and developed through Northside business and neighborhood associations including Folwell Neighborhood Association, Jordan Area Community Council, Hawthorne Neighborhood Council, and West Broadway Business and Area Coalition. Local artists will be engaged to beautify the areas before, during and after projects break ground. As properties are developed, Black entrepreneurs step in and take over: bringing goods and services to local residents, job opportunities to youth and adults, and prosperity to families.

“Our mission is to create a just society where every person has personal, social and economic power,” said Adair Mosley, President & CEO of Pillsbury United Communities. “The disruptive forces of 2020 showed the inequity of a system built on racist policies and practices as well as the need to act with urgency to equitably rebuild. JBC will prioritize strategies that ensure the people who were part of the history of our communities are also part of the future. We envision thriving commercial nodes anchored by local businesses and green spaces, safe and stable neighborhoods, and meaningful work and wealth-building opportunities that close racial disparities.”

Minnesota’s Black residents face the worst economic disparities in the nation. Minnesota ranks at the bottom for racial gaps in high school graduation, homeownership and household income. These inequities have been concentrated on Minneapolis’s Northside by decades of systemic disinvestment.

“Today we see the impact of inequitable development in North Loop, a Northside neighborhood adjacent to downtown,” said Jimmy Loyd who serves as Senior Director of Community Development at Pillsbury United. “While real estate activity in North has largely been stagnant, North Loop has seen $1.2B in real estate sales since 2015. That’s created rapid gentrification on the edges of North, and now this boom encroaches deeper into the neighborhood. As properties along Plymouth Avenue and other major corridors are bought up, vulnerable residents are threatened by displacement as outsiders benefit. JBC aims to reverse this concerning trend and support Northside neighborhoods’ vision for their own future.”

Learn more at justicebuiltcommunities.org.

About Pillsbury United Communities

Pillsbury United builds community by co-creating enduring change toward a just society where every person has personal, social, and economic power. Its united system of programs, neighborhood centers, social enterprises, and partnerships connects individuals and their families across the region. Program areas include community health, food accessibility, family stabilization, creative placemaking, community voice, civic engagement, education, career and future readiness, and economic mobility.

Pillsbury United serves the Black, Brown, Indigenous, immigrant, and working-class residents of Minneapolis striving to build better lives and communities for their families in spite of racism, poverty, and other systemic barriers. Priority neighborhoods include Cedar Riverside, Phillips, and Powderhorn in South Minneapolis and Near North and Webber-Camden in North Minneapolis.

Jimmy Loyd, MBA and MPM, named community development director

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Pillsbury United Communities has named Jimmy Loyd Director of Community Development for Justice Built Communities (JBC), a community development corporation. The purpose of JBC is to power equitable economic development in the black and brown communities of Minnesota that have experienced decades of disinvestment. To prevent further disenfranchisement of these communities as neighborhoods rebuild after the recent unrest, JBC will operate as community quarterback convening community leaders and local organizations to plan and implement a holistic approach that includes direct support to black and brown entrepreneurs and small businesses.

“Jimmy brings the real estate development and business acumen paired with a deep commitment to racial equity,” said Adair Mosley, President and CEO. “He shares our vision for building thriving communities, centering community’s voice, and we are honored to have him move this initiative forward.”

Jimmy is a graduate of DeVry University and Keller Graduate School of Management. His real estate planning and development experience includes four years with the City of Minneapolis during which time he was recognized for “Excellence in Economic Development” by the International Economic Development Council for the City of Minneapolis B-Tap Program. His experience also includes serving as Small Business Program Manager at Northside Economic Opportunity Network, Real Estate Director at YMCA – Greater Twin Cities, and most recently Economic Development Coordinator for the City of Brooklyn Center.

“I chose to join Pillsbury United because of the organization’s willingness to take bold action,” Loyd said. “I look forward to partnering with other CDCs, neighborhood associations, and business district councils to develop new land-based solutions that benefit the community.”

Justice Built Communities convenes stakeholders across sectors and prioritizes comprehensive approaches to neighborhood revitalization that will prevent gentrification and displacement while driving enterprise development and wealth creation in black and brown communities of greater Minneapolis. More information at justicebuiltcommunities.org.

2020 Election: Our Future Depends on Driving Safe Turnout

For many of us, this fall’s election will be the most consequential of our lifetime. The heath, safety, education, and opportunity in our communities look to be shaped for generations to come by the outcomes.

We know that justice for the most marginalized among us requires making all our voices heard in our political system. Our democracy cannot become truly representative until the demographics of voters and elected officials are reflective of all the people who live and work in our communities.

Because so much is at stake, Pillsbury United Communities is working to make voting as easy and safe as possible this year for our staff and the people we serve.

We will be closed on election day so staff can focus on casting their ballots and getting out the vote. We have also launched an aggressive, inclusive, non-partisan campaign to educate and assist voters in making a safe plan to vote between now and Nov. 3. Big thanks to our funders CAPI, Hennepin County, and the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits for making this work possible.

Want to help us drive safe turnout during this election? Here are a few ways you can support our work.

  • Make sure your family, friends, neighbors, and other community members have a plan to vote safely. Voting options this year include:
    • Voting by mail/absentee: The CDC recommends voting by mail because of the pandemic. Offer to support folks in signing up for, completing and submitting their absentee ballots (by mail or by dropping them off at a ballot dropsite). FYI, you may only drop off three ballots in addition to your own in one election, according to state law.
    • Vote early at an early voting center between Sept. 18 and Nov. 2. Offer to drive people to the center if that’s possible for you. Early voting is 8am-4:30pm, Monday-Friday, with some weekend hours as the election gets closer.
    • Vote at your polling place on voting day. Offer to drive people to the polls on voting day. Look up a person’s polling place here. Polling places are open 7am-8pm. As long as you are in line by 8pm, you cannot be turned away.
  • Sign up for a non-partisan phone-banking shift with us and encourage others in your network to do the same. These are organized by CAPI and run Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5pm-8pm. Be sure to note you were referred by PUC when you sign up here.
  • We have hired seven outreach specialists to do non-partisan GOTV work in our communities between now and Nov. 3. They speak English, Spanish, Oromo, Somali, and Hmong. If you’d like a specialist to attend an event or other safe gathering of people you are involved with, email KenzieO@pillsburyunited.org.
  • Share GOTV information from your personal social media accounts. PUC has hired two community-based artists to create a multi-lingual, visual GOTV campaign for us. We will distribute digital and physical assets by email and to our centers and enterprises as soon as they are ready.
  • Donate to Pillsbury United’s GOTV efforts here.

Intersecting People, Place, and Prosperity

Young girls playing on Broadway Ave during Open Streets

The Upstream Imperative, Volume 5

This article is part of “The Upstream Imperative,” a series exploring the challenges and opportunities facing the social services sector.

By Adair Mosley, President and CEO, Pillsbury United Communities

What future do we see for our neighborhoods in the Twin Cities?

Will they be places where everyone can raise families, build wealth, and live full, healthy lives? Or will they be exclusive enclaves where newcomers prosper and long-term residents are pushed to the margins?

In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, this dilemma is stark. The damage to large sections of our city is further stressing a population — largely Black, brown, and indigenous — that was already in danger of displacement. Decades of systemic racism and inequity sparked the destruction. Now these pressures threaten an even greater crisis for our community.

We have a choice. We can prioritize rebuilding with and for Black and brown residents. Or watch as these neighborhoods rise again, but without those who have lived and labored there for generations.

A History of Erasure

We didn’t arrive at this point overnight. Starting a century ago, redlining and exclusionary lending practices shut Black and brown families out of many Twin Cities neighborhoods and the wealth-building opportunities they enabled. Black people built thriving communities in spite of these restrictions, only to see their neighborhoods bulldozed and cut off by interstate construction.

In the intervening decades, Black neighborhoods in the Twin Cities have been stuck with “lesser than” status. They are continually passed over for public and private investments — with devastating social and economic consequences. Now we see the pendulum swinging back. As outside developers move to “revitalize” areas of the city they long ignored, “white flight in reverse” threatens to erase the people and culture in these areas.

To be clear, we want investment in our neighborhoods. But unless Black, brown and indigenous people are driving the change, Minneapolis will continue to grow less equitable at their expense.

The Rise of Community Development

In a difficult moment, we see reasons for hope. Across the U.S., community development corporations are proving that inclusive neighborhoods are possible when communities work together.

These projects don’t arise from shallow or short-term community input. Developers must be willing to see vulnerable residents, meet them where they are, and center their voices and needs before and after ground is broken. Equitable development has to start from a place of deep understanding and connection.

That’s where we’ve lived for over 140 years. Pillsbury United Communities is committed to ensuring every person has personal, social, and economic power. Through a focus on solving big, upstream challenges, we create enduring change toward a just society.

That mission puts equitable economic development squarely on our agenda.<

Owning the Solution

Pillsbury United is making moves to prevent gentrification and displacement of marginalized residents with the creation of Justice Built Communities (JBC). A new community development corporation for the Greater Twin Cities and beyond, JBC acts as a community quarterback to prioritize integrated, inclusive approaches to neighborhood revitalization.

Our process starts by identifying underused buildings, vacant lots and other assets that can anchor neighborhood redevelopment. Then we bring together the partners, capital, and vision to realize their potential. JBC banks and secures these assets until properties are developed and Black and brown-owned enterprises take over.

Instead of outsiders telling people, “Here’s what you need,” we ask, “What can we do together?” JBC ensures the voices of our communities are heard alongside businesses, builders, and banks in the service of a shared agenda. Working together, we advance many priorities critical for our community, from neighborhood investment and beautification to education and job creation.

Arts and culture are central to that effort. Through artist-driven engagement and creative placemaking, we empower residents to define what thriving, beautiful neighborhoods look like to them. Artists and residents continue to collaborate as developments take shape to create spaces that honor the unique history and culture of the place.

Transformation from the Inside Out

Pillsbury United is not new to this work. In 2017, we led the development of North Market, a grocery store and wellness center in one of the country’s largest food deserts. Created with North Minneapolis community members and partners including North Memorial Health, our solution addresses multiple needs in one place, from fresh food to accessible health services.

The impact goes beyond essential services. North Market provides career-track jobs, buys from local businesses and entrepreneurs, and feeds the vitality of the neighborhood as a whole.

JBC works in the same way. We use the tools of community development to promote quality education, workforce training, small businesses investment, and land ownership, while awarding contracts to local people and organizations that will reinvest in the community. Our encompassing approach spurs the creation of generational wealth and helps put communities on the path to self-sufficiency.

To that end, JBC is advancing equitable policy side by side with equitable development. We use our access and partnerships to advocate for measures such as Renters Bill of Rights legislation and Community Benefit Agreements that protect local residents before and after projects open their doors.

Our goal is transformation from the inside out. We are banking on the creativity, talent, and energy that have always existed in our Black and brown communities. By amplifying their voices and letting their vision lead ours, we can eliminate racial disparities, remove urban blight, and help our communities of color equitably share in the vibrant economy of our state. JBC is how we reimagine not only our cities, but the systems that shape people’s lives here.

If we want strong neighborhoods that include everyone and work for everyone, we can’t leave it to outsiders. It’s up to us to build them.

What we need from you now

Community member carrying kid on shoulders at Open Streets on Broadway Ave

The compounding effects of intersectional oppression are prominently on display right now. We have an uncontrolled pandemic, on top of the longtime public health crisis that is institutionalized racism. Our democracy is under threat. People are unhoused in record numbers. Gaps in wealth, health, and educational outcomes between the haves and have-nots in our communities are widening even further.

Reimagined systems are desperately needed, and Pillsbury United Communities is heeding that call. Through the lens of people, place, and prosperity, our leaders are aggressively advocating for upstream change that will build long term power in our communities. Additionally, our agency has launched a public policy team and a community development corporation to reimagine the structures that govern our day to day lives.

While we use our institutional power to lay a foundation for long-term change, we remain committed to immediate and short-term relief for those who’ve long borne the brunt of our country’s violent and inequitable systems. We must be responsive to the needs of today without settling for them as permanent fixtures of life in our city.

We hope you’ll join us in seeking justice. For advice on where to start, we’ve asked a few of our leaders to share their wisdom.

Tsega Tamene, Senior Director of Population Health

Tsega Tamene

COVID-19 has been a truth teller. It has exposed what was already in plain sight to many of us. Black, Indigenous, and communities of color have experienced the disparate economic, health, and psychosocial impacts of racism well before, starkly during, and very well likely after this pandemic—unless we choose a different world.

We must reimagine, redesign, and transform systems toward health justice. In doing so, we must fundamentally shift how we think, speak, and act about health and health inequities. Namely, we must shift from treating health as a commodity to health as a human right. Shift now by:

  • Supporting frontline workers like ours who everyday disrupt health inequities that are driven by social and structural harms rooted in racism (not naturally occurring biological difference or individual behavior).
  • Lifting up local wellness and healing justice practitioners who identify as Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC).
  • Joining policy advocacy efforts calling for the transformation of our healthcare payment system to prioritize the health of all people. Amplifying the voices of community health workers, doulas, and other critical roles who are lesser valued by existing payment models.
  • Learning more about the history of medicine and racism’s impact on health.
  • Studying yourself to heal yourself. Exploring your racialized trauma and your role(s) in social change.

Faye Price & Noel Raymond, Co-Artistic Directors, Pillsbury House + Theatre

Faye Price - headshot

Faye Price

At Pillsbury House + Theatre, we employ roughly 300, mostly-BIPOC artists every year. Those folks, and the entire creative workforce, are extremely economically unstable right now because of the pandemic. This is a workforce that has been decimated like the restaurant industry.

Our artists are often activists who highlight systemic inequities and cast visions for liberation. They are called to do that imagining regardless of compensation. We need them right now more than ever, and many are being asked to do cultural labor unpaid. There is an expectation that they will always be here, but they won’t if we don’t act. Act now by:

Noel Raymond - headshot

Noel Raymond

  • Hiring an artist. Pay them generously for their time.
  • Donating to a nonprofit’s commissioning fund, so that they are able to hire artists (we have one here at PHT). If you run a nonprofit or work for one, create a commissioning fund and embed artists into your work, minimizing arduous reporting requirements and maximizing compensation.
  • Contacting your member of Congress and tell them to support the Mixed Earner Unemployment Assistance Act of 2020.

Julie Graves, Senior Director of Youth & Future

Julie Graves headshot

Julie Graves

We have built our systems and models of youth programming to complement school models. For better or worse, we live in the tangled webs of integrated systems. When Minneapolis Public Schools change their offerings, we have to pivot too. With school not returning to the status quo this fall, these structures that we’ve played off of always, don’t exist anymore. We have to figure out new ways of engaging our young people and supporting their families in the process. We have to do so in the midst of so much uncertainty about the future of school day education—this year and beyond.

Funding for youth programming in Minneapolis, particularly K-5, has been decimated in the last decade. Our stressed, barebones system of out-of-school youth programming is now being asked to completely reinvent the way it operates to support entirely new needs. We need to return to a system where every child and family has access to a community center that offers a holistic, integrated model of support—tutoring, entertainment, meals, space to just be together.

Support this work by donating to the chronically underfunded community centers, like Waite House, who provide whole-family support. Advocate for more out of school time youth funding in the 2021 Minneapolis city budget—and the state budget. This is violence prevention work. This is an investment in the future of our city.

Antonio Cardona, Director of Office of Public Charter Schools

Antonio Cardona on stage at Greater>Together 2019

Antonio Cardona

Resources are not scarce. They are inequitably concentrated. If we are serious about reimagined systems, we have to question and tactically change what we value and where we direct resources. In public education, we have a simple, yet fundamental challenge: funding for public education is rooted in property taxes that are a result of decades of purposeful housing and employment discrimination. We need to change this system.

Secondly, just as we have been talking about social determinants of health for the last two decades, there are also social determinants of education. COVID-19 and George Floyd’s murder has laid bare the ways in which the most marginalized are the first effected by societal change. Think of a tsunami. First, the water recedes, exposing the gunk just beyond the shoreline. Then, the water slams that same shoreline, throwing everything into disarray. Those on higher ground are able to escape the worst effects. This exposes what kids and families need in order to grow and learn. Stability, food, housing, health care, family businesses—all of the things that have been decimated during this time.

Take action by supporting and participating in the civic institutions that push population-level work forward; voting; completing your Census; and paying attention to city council meetings, school board meetings, and commission decisions. Support and hold your officials accountable while trying to avoid a descent into unhelpful or uneducated dialogue.

“Reimagine Public Safety” teaser video released

George Floyd memorial outside Cup Foods

We’ve been here before. But out of our pain rises the stories of how to heal, how to evolve, and how to build.

Coming later this summer, Pillsbury United Communities will be releasing the first installment of “Reimagine Public Safety,” a new docuseries exploring policing in the city of Minneapolis, and the possibilities that exist to reimagine and transform our systems of public safety. This series is one of the first initiatives from our new Policy & Advocacy team.

Don’t forget to connect with us on Facebook to see future installments and continue the conversation with our Policy & Advocacy team.

We’ve always figured out a way through. It’s time to find a way forward.

Harry Colbert, Jr. named next North News editor

Headshot of Harry Colbert, new North News editor

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Pillsbury United Communities has named Harry Colbert, Jr. as the next editor of North News.

Colbert is an award-winning journalist, has contributed as a reporter, columnist/commentator and editor for such outlets as the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s The Village, Suburban Journals (St. Louis), St. Louis American, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Joplin Globe (Mo.), Metro Networks (St. Louis) and KDHX (St. Louis).

Colbert joined Insight News in Minneapolis as a contributing writer in 2010. While at Insight, he has covered Barack Obama on multiple occasions during his presidency, interviewed countless dignitaries and celebrities and won awards for writing and photography. In June of 2016, Colbert was named Insight’s managing editor.

Colbert’s journalistic accolades include four Minnesota Newspaper Association awards (first place for General Reporting, two second place for Columnist and one third place for General Excellence), three National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) Merit Awards (2018 Best Column, third place, 2017 Best Special Edition, second place [as both writer and managing editor] for an edition dedicated to the passing of Prince and 2016 Best Use of Photography, third place, for his coverage of the North Minneapolis uprising following the killing of Jamar Clark by Minneapolis police officers) and three National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Salute to Excellence nominations (two for Best Commentary [2018, 2019] and one for Best Business Reporting [2019]).

“We are ecstatic to welcome Harry to our team. Harry intersects a deep commitment and passion for the North Minneapolis community, and we believe he will continue to authentically tell the stories of this resilient place,” said Adair Mosley.

“I’m both humbled and honored to have been selected to lead North News in its next phase of news gathering and sharing,” Colbert said. “Kenzie [O’Keefe] has done an outstanding job piloting the ship in its inaugural phase under Pillsbury United.”

Colbert will begin officially in his role May 11.

Colbert is a proud resident of the Cleveland neighborhood of North Minneapolis.

Colbert replaces Kenzie O’Keefe who will now lead Pillsbury’s policy and advocacy work.

North News is a grassroots print and digital community news source and youth journalism training program in North Minneapolis. It is an independently operated social enterprise of Pillsbury United Communities. North News seeks to deepen understanding, empathy, and appreciation for the Northside through its coverage, expanding perceptions of a place often reduced to a single, negative narrative.

Census 2020: how to get involved

This past week, a diverse group of nearly 50 community members and leaders came together at our Waite House community center for We Count: Immigrants and Refugees, an event held in collaboration with the City of Minneapolis to raise awareness on the significance of counting everyone in Minnesota. With billions of dollars and political power on the table—and knowing that the most vulnerable communities are historically undercounted—the stakes are high. To ensure a complete and accurate count, one thing became clear: It’ll take all of us.

When there’s fear—about what the government will do with peoples’ information, or if landlords will have access to the data, or about who will be knocking on our doors—it’ll take all of us. 

When there’s a barrier—like not being able to fill out the form in your language, not having access to technology, or not understanding the importance of being counted—it’ll take all of us. 

When there’s confusion—about which box to check to identify yourself, what information is required in order to participate, or when misinformation is being spread amongst our communities—it’ll take all of us. 

It’ll take all of us. It’ll take YOU. Sharing accurate, relevant, and reliable information. Having this conversation in our neighborhoods, around our block. In our children’s schools, faith groups, and workplaces. With our families, friends, and colleagues. From trusted voices. 

“Text somebody. Share the information. Post on social media. Maybe host an event. Host a dinner on your block. Bring people together and talk about these issues because in this time when we’re being divided, when we’re being pit against each other, we need to do the opposite. We need to bring more people in,” said Minneapolis city council-member Alondra Cano, one of the evening’s panelists. 

What else can you do? 

Work for the census. Positions are flexible, include weekly paychecks with competitive wages, and are a sure way to ensure your neighbors are counted.  

Form a complete count committee. Grants are currently available for nonprofits, neighborhood groups, churches, schools, or anyone working with a fiscal agent to do census work.  

Sign up to volunteer with us. Door-knock or phone-bank to spread information about the census or even assist others in our computer labs as they fill out their form.  

Collaborate. Don’t underestimate the importance of connecting with each other, building relationships, and sharing best practices on how to move this work forward. Panelist Monica Hurtado, Racial Justice and Health Equity Organizer for Voices for Racial Justice, said, “The census can be a tool for our liberation. And I think that’s key—how we are all in this together…It’s about the Latino community, about the Somali community, about the Asian community, about people experiencing homelessness, about kids who are at high risk of being undercounted. So how do we use this to sit around the table and to be together and to be united and understand that the census is in 2020, but the impact of those numbers is going to last for 10 more years?”  

We have a big challenge ahead of us. And to ensure that we are visible, that we are not erased, and that we are all counted, it’ll take all of us.

North News creates hyperlocal, youth-powered journalism

Attendees and staff at Greater>Together 2018

Many residents of North Minneapolis may be aware of North News through its monthly print paper and digital platforms, elevating honest and nuanced narratives about the Northside that aren’t represented in the institutional media. What they may not realize is that in addition to its quality hyperlocal reporting, North News is also working to lift up the next generation of Northside youth voices. 

Through classroom programs and internship opportunities overseen by North News staff, youth throughout North Minneapolis are learning to tell their community’s stories and gain experience that will prepare them for careers in mass media and communications. This need is especially critical in the Northside community. “We are the only journalism education program most of our young people have access to,” said Kenzie O’Keefe, editor-in-chief of North News. O’Keefe also co-teaches the North News journalism class at North High School and expects to lead a similar program at Patrick Henry High School later this fall. 

Working under Kenzie and being a proud intern for North News over the last three years taught me the skills I needed to become a great journalist,” said former intern Daija Triplett, currently serving at Pillsbury United Communities through the Public Allies program. After the conclusion of her term, she plans to major in communications and media studies at Stetson University in the spring. “I’ve learned so much about how journalism can help connect people to their neighbors in the community.” 

Blessing Kasongoma, currently majoring in communications studies at Augsburg University, concurs: “Interning as a student reporter at North News helped me find myself as a journalist. But she said the true benefits of the North News youth program are even bigger than that. “As a person, I became bolder when it came to approaching people for an interview. I grew that way. This skill is not just for interviewing, but for everyday life. I learned to be more confident as a person.” 

The North News team has high hopes for their youth program over the long-term. “Our plan is to build on our successes, grow the capacity of our newsroom, and keep our news platforms strong,” said O’Keefe. By formalizing additional pathways between North News and the media industry, O’Keefe said, North News can ensure that all young people in North Minneapolis have the tools and resources to pursue a career in mass media. With that crucial support for emerging community voices, she said, “We envision that North Minneapolis will one day be known as the birthplace of nationally respected journalists.” 

By cultivating young people’s skills as journalists, writers, and storytellers, North News is making a vital contribution to the Northside community. When everyday people are empowered to raise their voices and influence the narrative, real change can begin. 

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