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.

Intersecting People, Place, and Prosperity

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.

Public Allies convene for learning, connection at Core Week 2019

Ideating at Public Allies meeting

Earlier this month, Twin Cities Public Allies gathered at Oak Park Center to participate in Core Week. Public Allies is a 10-month Americorps apprenticeship program that focuses on advancing social justice and equity by teaching allies about leadership and placing them in key operational roles at a wide range of partner organizations throughout the Twin Cities nonprofit sector. For new and returning allies, Core Week offers the chance to explore the values of the Public Allies program through a variety of culture-building activities that exercise their creativity and empathy. It is a time for allies to connect, reflect, and build.

Ashlyn Stenberg is one of several new Public Allies cohort members; Core Week was her first week with the program. Ashlyn is serving as a communication system specialist at the Wilder Foundation, providing administrative support for a variety of projects focused on racial equity and community outreach. Although she was not sure what to expect with many of the high-energy culture-building activities, she says that by the end of Core Week, “[The experience has] already paid off. I’m seeing the benefit of putting myself out there in these spaces.” Ultimately, Ashlyn hopes that Public Allies can help her develop new opportunities that utilize her interest in health equity issues.

Roda Abda, also new to Public Allies, is serving as an operations manager at Twin Cities RISE, where she is assisting with project management and communications for a major upcoming event. After a period of trying to determine her next steps in life, Roda says that she was encouraged to apply by an acquaintance who had already completed the program. “I hope to become a strong communicator and learn to assert myself during my time as an ally,” she says.

Another new ally, Colton Taylor, was placed at Senior Community Services as a home program coordinator. In this role, his job is to recruit, organize, and manage volunteers who assist seniors with a wide range of day-to-day tasks. Like many young people in the program, Colton is eager to explore different post-college options during his time with Public Allies. “I graduated not knowing exactly what I wanted to do,” he says, “and I’m hoping [Public Allies] can help me get a clearer sense of what my career is going to be.”

Now that Core Week has come to an end, the hard work is only beginning. As our new cohort members begin their 10-month journey with Public Allies, the energy and enthusiasm of Core Week reminds us all that real learning happens when young people feel empowered to break out of their comfort zones.

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. 

Exploring Minnesota’s great outdoors

Youth camping activities

Our youth programs have wrapped up for the summer in what we thought was the most fitting way possible—spending time in the Minnesota outdoors. Knowing that the summer season here is short and filled with all different kinds of opportunities to be outside, we wanted to take advantage of what the natural wonders of this city and state has to offer.

Over the past three weeks, we’ve lead over 80 youth on four different canoeing excursions—two overnight expeditions in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA), one overnight trip along the St. Croix River, and one day trip on Minneapolis’ Chain of Lakes. Outdoor expeditions can sometimes be costly and strenuous, but in partnering with the group Wilderness Inquiry, we were able to provide the gear, transportation, and trained guides—all for free.

Maireni, 14, said her favorite part was “Looking at the stars and going to the waterfalls.” And for Luz, 15, it was “Being able to be with nature and talk to new people.” The least favorite part of the experience? The responses were almost unanimous: mosquitos.

While multiple hands-on skills are learned on these trips, from paddling to putting up a tent, making a fire to washing dishes outside—soft skills are strengthened too. Like Baldemar, 14, said, “Teamwork is very vital when you go camping.” Teamwork, communication, and problem-solving skills become necessary when experiencing the outdoors overnight for several days, not always alongside familiar faces, and without the comfortable amenities of home. And without the distraction of phones or other digital devices, youth find their own ways to have fun, whether it be through outdoor games, some good old-fashioned singing, or just taking life a little slower by chatting and building bonds with one another.

Engaging youth in the great outdoors has been a Pillsbury United tradition since the founding of the first settlement houses, and we plan to continue for years to come. Next time, we might just bring some more bug spray.

North Market selling local produce, supporting local farmers

Local produce on sale at North Market

Since they opened their doors in December of 2017, North Market has been working to address food access issues and health disparities in North Minneapolis by uniting three elements in one place: affordable nutritious food, health care services, and wellness education. Staying true to its roots of being built with and for the community, they’ve been purposeful about supporting local entrepreneurs. Right now, you can find products from over 47 local vendors on their shelves. And what’s new this summer? Hyperlocal produce from North Minneapolis farmers. Yep—zucchini, kale, tomatoes, and more picked within just a few blocks.

By purchasing food from local farmers, North Market is able to fulfill its mission of providing affordable healthy food AND acting as an engine for local economic growth. Vanan Murugesan, Director of Design and Innovation at Pillsbury United Communities, said:

“We want to expose the community to the great food businesses that are growing in North Minneapolis and when people buy stuff from the community, it’s keeping the money in the neighborhood. So, we are just a platform for people to connect. On one side we have the customers and on the other we have the farmers and entrepreneurs, and we provide this platform for them to do business. At the end of the day, someone in the neighborhood can enjoy food that was made within 2 miles of where they live and there is something special about that.

Not only does this mean customers can access produce harvested sometimes as freshly as the same day, but they can simultaneously support a local food system along the way. One of the partners providing vegetables to the store is Growing North Minneapolis, a community-based collaborative that advances environmental, social, and racial justice in North Minneapolis. Patsy Parker, a Community Garden Steward with Growing North, said that “The impact of the sales allows us to start planning for next year. So we can think about, ‘Ok, next year, what kind of seeds do we need? Can we actually buy seeds as opposed to just waiting ‘til the spring and hoping someone can bring them to us?’ Traditionally, North Minneapolis has not had good access to seeds and seedlings. We’re learning what it is that people want and what people need. You know—we need to plant a lot more okra.”

Another source of freshly grown produce is from our Pillsbury United Communities farm at Oak Park Center. Proceeds made from these sales will be reinvested into the larger urban agriculture and food work that we do here at PUC, allowing us to provide more education and technical support to local farmers while having extra funds to help purchase food for our food shelves and community meals—two programs where we’ve seen an increase in need and decrease in philanthropic funding .

All of this to say, it seems to be a win for everyone—customers, farmers, and North Market alike. Customers can spend their dollars on the freshest produce possible from the backyards of North Minneapolis (also a win for the environment). Local growers can increase their economic mobility or continue to fuel urban agriculture work in North Minneapolis from their sales. And North Market can help fill a food access gap by not just providing healthy food to the neighborhood, but being intentional about sourcing from and supporting that neighborhood when possible. Because if we are serious about working to close the disparities in North Minneapolis and Minnesota, then it’s going to require creative, transformative solutions.

Summer K-5 program launched, despite cuts

Children in youth program

For the first time since the summer of 2017, a no-cost summer K-5 program is up and running at our Brian Coyle Center. From June through August, kids will have the opportunity to participate in a vast range of activities—literacy and geography lessons, getting hands-on with gardening, cooking, technology and organized sports, going on field trips, and engaging in projects that help foster self-expression and ignites them to think about their community in different ways. Programming like this is essential during this time of year to prevent ‘summer slide,’ otherwise known as the learning loss that happens when kids are out of school and not academically engaged as they are during the school year. In the past week, some highlights include planting peppers in the garden, learning about Brazil and the greater South American continent followed up by making some delicious Brazilian limeade, getting outdoors at the Dodge Nature Center, learning about the environment, recycling, and how to save energy from Community Action Partnership, and enhancing reading skills thanks to a partnership with the Cedar Riverside Opportunity Center.

Though this programming is happening now—unfortunately in the past two years, our K-5 youth have not had the academic and social supports needed due to funding cuts. Our agency along with many others serving this population were forced to cut both our summer and afterschool K-5 programs out entirely, which has had significant impacts on the families we serve. Older middle and high school-aged youth have often had to step up and stay home to care for their younger siblings, forcing them to no longer participate in their own summer/afterschool programming. Parents were faced with the difficult decision to change their job(s) or adjust their work schedules. And then there’s the K-5 kids themselves who are no longer receiving the academic and social supports that are critical in laying the groundwork for academic success and confidence in middle school.

This has been a real community need these past couple of years, and because of demand from our Cedar Riverside neighbors, we pulled as many strings as we could to make a summer K-5 program happen at the Brian Coyle Center. However, the future of K-5 still looks uncertain until there are more funds allocated to this population. If you are passionate about the future of our young people, we encourage you to follow both Ignite Afterschool and the Minneapolis Youth Coordinating Board, two groups who are determinedly working to secure more youth funding from the City and State. Our kids deserve better.

Do you have a story of the power of K-5 programming, or want to share your experiences with the lack of it? Contact Julie: JulieG@pillsburyunited.org, 612-455-0365. We want to help uplift these stories to ensure we get the resources needed for our young people.

Serving with a smile at People Serving People

EPIC program participants volunteering with People Serving People

Every Tuesday, volunteers from our Employing Partners in Community (EPIC) Program are at People Serving People to assist with building beautification. This is a partnership that has been in place since 2010. Its just one of the many places where program participants and staff volunteer each week.

The EPIC Program, based at the Pillsbury House, is all about skill building, involvement in our community and making memories. Volunteering is practice that provides program participants a chance to gain and strengthen work skills while also helping others and integrating in the community.  At People Serving People, EPIC helps with the janitorial services and that’s a big job. There are seven floors and a long list of housekeeping tasks that need to be done on each floor. Tasks include sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, and cleaning windows. After the work is completed, People Serving People kindly provides a hot meal in exchange for the work. Some of the volunteers favorites are beef nachos, tacos, and smothered chicken.

Public Allies volunteer to help raise youth voices

Public Alies participants in ideation session

On March 30, 2019 the Minnesota Youth Council hosted the first of its kind, Youth in Educational Leadership Summit at Patrick Henry High School. The Minnesota Youth Council is a group of youth and adults working together to empower and mobilize young people across the state to use the power of their voices to address issues affecting youth. The event featured many young speakers. Janaan Ahmed spoke about advocacy and leadership and Maddy Fernands spoke about climate justice. Edie Weinstein, a young author, spoke about her book and connecting with people with dementia. More than 200 students, parents, mentors, and teachers participated in the event.

A team of Public Allies volunteered at the event.  They did everything from provide childcare to take photos while not participating in workshops. “As a Public Ally, the experience at YELS was refreshing.” said second year Public Allies fellow You Lee. “Many times, youth voices are pushed aside to make space for adults or professionals in the room. So, it was cool to see youth-led presentations and overall coordination of the conference. I can see that the conference was a good experience for youth as they continue their work in the future.” 

Public Allies is a national movement committed to advancing social justice and equity by engaging and activating the leadership capacities of our young people. Since 1992, Public Allies has helped thousands of underrepresented young leaders serve our country, get on successful pathways to higher education and careers, and bring communities together to work for the common good. Public Allies seeks to find and cultivate young community leaders and connect them to the issues and causes that ignite their passion to create last change. Allies are placed with a nonprofit organization where they help address critical community needs such as youth development, education, workforce development, environmental issues, arts programming and community health.

Sisterhood Boutique celebrates diversity with style

Models at the Sisterhood Boutique fashion show

On March 5, 2019 Sisterhood Boutique celebrated its fifth anniversary with a fashion show. The boutique was started by Somali and east African girls as safe space to learn skills like financial literacy, leadership and sewing by running their own business selling secondhand clothes.

“We do a lot of things and the fashion show is a way to show the community what we’ve been doing. We’ve had over 200 people go through the process,” said store manager Amal Muse.

The fashion show is part birthday party, part fundraiser and features models of all shapes and sizes wearing looks designed by students from the University of St. Catherine’s Advanced Construction Class to reflect the diversity found in the West Bank neighborhood where the boutique is located.

“We have women wearing traditional hijabs and burkas; there’s everything. It really runs the gamut of what you would see walking around in a very fashionable Minneapolis,” said Julie Graves, Director of Career & Future Readiness.

For some of the girls involved with store, the show is a chance to strike a pose, while for others, it’s one more example that the Sisterhood Boutique lives up to its name.

“It’s very family-like. You feel like you are part of a sister family. I don’t have sisters, so I gained sisters,” Ali said.

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