Where we go from here

Mural at George Floyd Square. Photo by Lorie Shaull

On Tuesday, 12 jurors cracked open the window of justice. And we see a little light.

To be clear, the verdict in George Floyd’s murder should never have been in doubt. But we had reason for pessimism. Only rarely do police-involved killings of Black, Brown and Indigenous people even make it to the doorstep of our courts. When they do, officers are almost never held accountable—even for the most abhorrent abuses of power.

Floyd’s murder is part of a chilling pattern where policing in communities of color leads to senseless death again and again. Our hearts are already heavy this week as 20-year-old Daunte Wright, another unarmed Black man killed by local police in Minnesota, is laid to rest. Again a family and community mourns. Again we hear pleas for justice and vows for change. Again we have reason to doubt justice will ever be served.
What will it take before we say as a state, enough is enough?

Right after George Floyd’s death, our state’s leaders stood up to declare that Black Lives Matter. A year later, we’re fighting for more than a hashtag. You can help us move lawmakers into action. We can’t wait for another tragedy before we act.

The Minnesota House has taken the courageous step with a public safety omnibus bill that builds on last year’s Minnesota Police Accountability Act. This slate of common-sense measures holds officers accountable for harmful actions and unties the hands of police chiefs in protecting life.

Stand with us in calling on Minnesota state legislators and Governor Walz to take immediate and decisive action on the following items:

  • HF1104: End qualified immunity. Help survivors of brutality or harassment by law enforcement get relief in the courts by ending qualified immunity for police officers.
  • HF1103: Rules on body cameras. Prohibit law enforcement from tampering with body camera footage of a deadly force incident and require footage to be released to family and representative within 48 hours.
  • HF640: Establish civilian oversight. Remove the current state law prohibiting citizen-led councils from imposing discipline on law enforcement officers.
  • HF593: Exclude white supremacists from police ranks. Change the Peace Officer Code of Conduct to prohibit anyone on the force from affiliating with, supporting, or advocating for white supremacist or other extremist groups.
  • HF1374: Track misconduct. Require police chiefs to report officer misconduct and help to identify officers with harmful patterns of behavior.
  • HF-107B: Limit Traffic Stops. Limit authority for police officers to stop or detain drivers for certain vehicle equipment violations.

We encourage you to reach out to lawmakers to express your support for these important acts of legislation: 

We see the light of change peeking through. With your vocal support, Minnesota can throw the window wide open.

(Photo credit: Lorie Shaull)

Join us at Greater>Together 2020!

It’s been a year like no other in our city. We’ve seen devastating loss and felt the reverberations of historic inequities throughout our communities. And yet, we’ve also seen the courage and collective will of our communities at work. A better future is possible. Now is the moment to stand together.

This year, we’re excited to announce Greater>Together 2020, an online event featuring artistic performances and courageous conversations led by our team of community-builders and change-makers. Join us on Facebook Live on December 3 at 7:00 p.m. CT to get a first-hand look at the impact we’re making in community and our ambitious vision of change.

The live broadcast will be free to all, but we are offering a variety of premium benefit packages to our close friends and supporters. We’re pleased to announce partnerships with Afro Deli, Mama Sheila’s, and Sammy’s Avenue Eatery, three Black-owned restaurants in our communities, to offer a delicious dinner for two, delivered to your door on December 3.

Donate today for premium benefits, or follow us on Facebook for the latest Greater>Together reminders as December 3 approaches.

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.

Justice can’t wait

Pillsbury United Communities policy team: Azhae’la Hanson, DA Bullock, Kenzie O'Keefe

By Adair Mosley, President and CEO

We are resilient. We are resourceful. We are responsive. And we are ready to respond in new ways.

George Floyd was murdered three weeks ago. In response to this tragedy, we have a duty to transcend the boundaries of what we previously thought possible. We must design a more just world for all.

Here at Pillsbury United Communities, we are doubling down on our commitment to co-create that new world. Today, we announce two new initiatives emerging from our strategic framework. Both are aimed at dismantling white supremacy and centering BIPOC prosperity in this place we all call home.

  • Policy as a tool for social change. Together, with the black, brown, indigenous, poor, and queer communities we serve, we will reimagine the systems that govern and oppress us. Policy has shaped community. It’s time for community to shape policy. Kenzie O’Keefe, former editor and publisher of North News, will lead our new policy team. Visionary filmmaker DA Bullock will document community truths, challenging the false narratives that have stood in the way of meaningful change. In the coming months Kenzie and DA, along with youth intern Azhae’la Hanson, will finalize a long-term policy agenda for the agency while actively supporting and amplifying efforts already underway. They are already collaborating on a short docuseries about the possible futures of public safety, prototyping a more just solution to cash bail, and partnering with Hennepin County on the reduction of racial disparities through county policy.
  • Powering equitable economic development. Black, brown, and indigenous neighborhoods have been chronically disinvested in, and residents have been intentionally blocked from opportunities to create generational wealth. That ends now. We are partnering with our communities to plan, fund, and actualize community-centered neighborhood development. Our new community development corporation, Justice Built Communities, will prevent gentrification and displacement while driving enterprise development and wealth creation in BIPOC communities of greater Minneapolis.

Our policies and communities can be reimagined so that every person has the opportunity to flourish, regardless of zip code. This is justice.

Congrats 2020 FANS Grads!

Amid a global pandemic and an unprecedented wave of protests in Minneapolis, the class of 2020 has had a very unusual senior year. And yet despite these unique hurdles, this year’s FANS seniors have pushed through to high school graduation. We couldn’t be more proud of their accomplishments.

FANS is a college and career mentorship program for high schoolers, specifically working with students of color, recent immigrants, and other groups that have been historically underrepresented in higher education. Upon completing the program and graduating from high school, students are eligible for a scholarship to help pay for their continuing education. FANS scholarships are funded entirely thanks to donations from our network of supporters, and 100% of contributions go directly to students to help cover books, tuition, and other expenses.

Keep reading below to meet some of our 2020 FANS graduates below and hear what they have to say about their experiences in the program.

Meet: Zubeda, Roosevelt High School Grad

Why is it important for you to go to college?
It is important for me to go to college because I want to help my family and not depend on anyone else—so I want to give it back to my community, and I feel like going to college and getting an education is the only way I can do that. I also want to go to college because all my life I’ve been going to school and I want to continue to get the education that I need that my friends didn’t get in Ethiopia.

Tell us about your experience with FANS.
FANS has help me prepare for college in many ways. I remember when I first started, I wasn’t really sure about college or what college was, but this program has help me figure out why I need to go to college. I’ve seen people who have been in [FANS] go on to college and become successful, and I want to be like them. It has helped me by going on tours, looking at how I can pay for college, talking with college admission counselors, and just basically preparing me for life after high school.

Justice for George Floyd

Mural for George Floyd at 38th/Chicago, photo credit: Lorie Shaull

By Adair Mosley, President and CEO, Pillsbury United Communities

This has been a traumatic week. Once again, a black man was brutally murdered by police. We grieve George Floyd in the midst of our fresh grief over Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. We mourn the many other victims of white supremacy for whom our systems have never produced justice.

We are heartbroken. We are enraged. We are resolved to make this a turning point. The black, brown, and indigenous communities we serve (and come from) deserve so much more than has been delivered.

As we reflect on the week that’s been and the days, weeks, and months to come, we are clear in our commitments:

  • We are centering justice for George Floyd in everything we do. We must not lose sight of how we got here, and we must ensure it never happens again. We are hopeful to hear that Attorney General Keith Ellison is taking over the Floyd case. We stand with the local civil rights leaders and national figures who spoke at our downtown press conference and rally last week in demanding that all four Minneapolis police officers involved in Floyd’s death be arrested, tried and convicted of murder. We expect justice to be served, and we will be content with nothing less.
  • We are continuing to meet basic needs amidst the challenges of this moment. Our communities are suddenly without vital resources in the midst of a global pandemic. Our food shelves and community meal programs remain open and responsive to new needs. We are tending to those in our network.
  • We are telling our communities’ true stories. Our media sources, KRSM Radio (98.9 FM) and North News, have been diligently working to amplify on-the-ground voices in a moment where simplifications, stereotypes, and outright falsehoods persist. We are bringing context, nuance, and lived experience to our coverage.
  • We are tracking toward systems change by investing in long-term policy work designed to dismantle racial disparities. We believe our communities have the answers to our greatest challenges. Please be on the lookout for more information on this in the coming week.

As we move forward, we will continue to celebrate the resiliency and connection of our communities. In this devastating moment, we are witnessing and experiencing love that transcends and persists despite the circumstances. We have been blown away by our North Minneapolis neighbors, for example, who have spent long nights protecting North Market. Because of them, the only remaining full-service grocery store on the Northside has remained open.

We hope you will join us in the vital work this moment calls for. Examine what you are feeling. Learn what your discomfort, your rage, your heartbreak, or your apathy has to teach you. Examine the power you hold and imagine how you could wield it in direct service of dismantling white supremacy. Risk more. Invest in transformative ideas. A just future requires it.

Please consider making a gift to Pillsbury United Communities to support our work today. You can also sign up as a monthly donor to truly sustain this work in the crucial months ahead.

(Photo credit: Lorie Shaull)

Responding with Resilience

Graphic of a single illuminated lightbulb

The Upstream Imperative, Volume 4

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

We are in a difficult moment.

For some in our community, COVID-19 is an uncomfortable disruption. For others, including many we serve, the pandemic threatens their livelihoods and lives. At Pillsbury United, we see the impact firsthand in the surge of people facing job loss as well as food and housing insecurity across our community.

Emergency support is desperately needed, and we are heeding the call. But this moment raises another urgent question. What can we do to reduce the inequities and disparities that compound the harm to our community — and emerge from this crisis more resilient than we were before?

If we are serious about preparing for the next emergency, we need to talk about systems.

Seeing the systemic

As extraordinary as events feel in this moment, we know that disasters are inevitable. And when they occur, they reveal our vulnerabilities. Whether it’s a tornado, a fire, a foreclosure crisis, or an epidemic, disasters do not affect us all equally. Some are inconvenienced while others are devastated.

Why is that? One narrative has it that some people choose not to prepare, that they should have more foresight or more financial cushion. But we know differently. Because of choices we make as a society, many in our community are more vulnerable to disaster, a judgment borne out by the numbers.

Here in Minnesota, we know more black, Latino, and indigenous low-wage workers are exposed to and contract the virus because they do a greater share of essential jobs. What’s more, COVID-19 most threatens people living with chronic diseases like asthma, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease — conditions that disproportionately impact black and brown communities due to a history of food insecurity, lack of access to healthcare, and adverse environmental impacts.

Systemic health care issues also contribute. Beyond barriers of cost and access, cultural disconnects and mistrust lead many in our community to delay care and let chronic conditions go untreated. When a crisis like COVID-19 arrives, they are often hit first and last to get proper treatment..

That’s why I say that emergency remedies are not enough. We need to address the systemic factors that make a bad situation worse.

A strategic policy push

As COVID-19 persists around the globe, we are deeply focused on the local impact and how our agency can help. While we can be consumed with the acute needs, we also need to claim this moment as an opportunity to rebuild a more just and inclusive society — for all.

Systemic challenges are complex and intersecting. Addressing them takes concerted action on many fronts: housing affordability; healthy mothers and births; school stability and early education; criminal justice reform; healthy food access; and many other priorities. When we engage the full picture, we start to remove the multi-dimensional barriers that leave people vulnerable.

In times of crisis, I choose to pursue an unconventional goal: strategic planning for the future. Last year, we released a bold and disruptive strategic plan. As we revisit our thinking and approach in this moment of challenge, we see our plan stands strong. Everything so far in this pandemic validates our focus on upstream systems that exacerbate downstream inequities.

Our plan lays out several strategic priorities that include forming cross-sector partnerships focused on social determinants of health to improve community outcomes and investing in students of color as an engine of equitable and sustainable economic prosperity. Critical to the success of these initiatives is advancing policies that promote, protect, and galvanize the community we serve.

Addressing root causes begins and ends with addressing policies and their consequences, intentional and unintentional, on our community. We know the disparities of our communities are strongly linked to the oppressive policies of our past. Through a catalytic investment from the Kresge Foundation and Target Foundation, we are investing in policy change in a way never before possible in our 140 year history. We are moving from a supporting role to a leadership role in shaping critical policies at the city, county, and state level. We fully understand that policies are the accelerating force to move more individuals and families to social and economic wellbeing.

We will use the proven tools of active listening, co-creation, and ongoing feedback to inform matters of planning and prioritization because policymaking for a just society must be driven by community. People, place, and race are too often treated as abstractions in policymaking but we need stakeholders to understand the humanity of those affected by policy choices. To that end, we will increasingly use multimedia to illuminate people’s lived experiences — to bring the faces and voices of our community into the discussion and to positively influence policies that affect them.

More resilient moving forward

We applaud the outpouring of effort and resources we see easing people’s hardship during this disaster. Now we challenge everyone to think beyond the crisis. Good conversations are happening at the media and policy levels, but we need to shift into action.

As an agency that’s built trust with our communities over generations, we have a central role in advancing their voices, hopes, and solutions in policymaking. We are fighting for a community that drives its own agenda, has real input on decisions that affect them, and enjoys equal representation in institutions that touch their lives.

This is what I mean by responding with resilience. Let’s use this opportunity to meaningfully engage our community in building a more equitable future post-COVID.

Another crisis is inevitable. If we make resilience our priority now, disparity is not.

7 ways to stand with our communities during COVID-19

Waite House staff observing social distancing at food distribution site

Wanting to show up for community right now, but not sure how? In addition to a financial contribution to groups that are providing emergency relief services, here are some other ways you can support our communities in these times of social distancing.

1. Make masks for our essential service workers and community members. Our emergency food and childcare teams are working hard on the front lines to provide needed services to Minneapolis families. In less than a month, our food programs have distributed almost 100,000 pounds of food to more than 1,000 families! But, as with others engaging in front-line work, we are always in need of of face masks to ensure the safety of our team. Not only that, but many of the folks coming for services are also facing difficulty accessing masks, something we’d like to assist with! If you have some extra time on your hands and want to hone some craft skills, consider making homemade face masks for our direct service workers and neighbors. Contact Kim with questions and/or to arrange delivery: KimP@pillsburyunited.org, 612-302-3499.

2. Call in to KRSM Radio. Though we are distancing physically, KRSM Radio is working hard to keep content fresh and to keep folks connected over the airwaves. You can call 612-208-3808 and leave a message for KRSM to share with the community. Tell us about how you’ve been finding joy in these strange times; give a recipe to try; sing a song or recite a poem; share great resources available in your neighborhood; or just tell us how you’re holding up. Let your neighbors, friends, and family hear your voice!

3. Clean out your closets for Sisterhood. Feel like doing some spring cleaning while you’re stuck inside? We encourage you to take a look at your clothing closet! Located in the Cedar Riverside neighborhood, Sisterhood Boutique is our gently-used clothing store that doubles as a youth social enterprise. They are always looking for clothing, shoes, and accessory donations (again, gently used please!) to add to their merchandise. So though you might not be able to make the physical hand-off until the shelter-in-place order is lifted, you can feel good knocking out this project ahead of time. Your (future) donation helps fuel a program that equips young East African women leaders with tools and skills for school, life, and more.

4. Shop at North Market. We all still have groceries to get and certainly have a lot of options from where to get them. Consider trying out our nonprofit grocery store, North Market, if you haven’t had a chance yet. It’s not only a full-service grocery store, but also a center for wellness services and a community gathering place in Minneapolis’ Camden neighborhood. It is important to note that they are taking several measures to ensure the safety of their shoppers in light of COVID-19 as well. (Plus, did you know that you can get 50% off all fresh produce EVERY Wednesday!?) Your shopping dollars help support this long sought after community food resource.

5. Read and share North News. Quality journalism doesn’t stop in the middle of a pandemic. With some extra time on your hands, grab a cup of coffee and settle in to read our Northside print (& online!) newspaper, North News. A truly community-based media outlet, North News prides itself on telling the whole stories and truths of Minneapolis’ Northside, not just the one-dimensional narratives often showcased in mainstream media. Like what you’re reading? Share it with your friends and family, and consider signing up to get a copy of the paper delivered to your doorstep each month.

6. Complete the census! Everything happening now is a reminder that our communities are in need of more resources. But did you know that those resources are often allocated based on population numbers from the census? Yep, even for recovery efforts in a crisis such as this. Not to mention housing assistance, school meals, SNAP, WIC, and so on. We only get the appropriate amount of resources if we are counted. We only get adequate political representation if we are counted. If you haven’t already, please take 5 minutes and complete the census today. This is a simple action with significant repercussions. Count your household today and encourage those you know and love to get counted as well.

7. Make a monthly gift. A financial gift is one of the best ways you can support our work during these uncertain times—and one of the best ways to support us financially is by becoming a monthly donor. We know that this will be a long-term struggle. Even after the crisis has passed, our communities will be living with the economic impacts for years to come. Help us continue showing up by signing up for a monthly gift. For as little as $5 per month, you can become part of a circle of grassroots supporters who are enabling all of our vital efforts in community.

Now more than ever, we know that no matter where we go from here, we go together. Thank you for showing up for our communities.

Reimagining Education for Economic Prosperity

Graphic of a single illuminated lightbulb

The Upstream Imperative, Volume 3

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

It’s a report card no Minnesotan is proud to see.

In 2019, the Twin Cities Metro was named the fourth worst place in the country for Black Americans. It’s just one of many rankings that show the depth of our region’s racial gaps, from academic achievement to wealth. Our state ranks 44th for racial disparities in standardized test scores and in the bottom tenth for disparities in who earns a high school diploma. Median household income for Minnesota’s Black and Indigenous families is less than half of what white families earn.

These disparities have a tangible impact on people’s lives. Less able to own homes, start businesses, or gainfully participate in the economy, our families of color are stuck in a cycle of poverty that leaves them sicker, less happy, and less safe. Our young people see their dreams curtailed before they get an opportunity to try.

It’s a crisis that makes our whole state poorer. According to the think tank PolicyLink, Minnesota’s annual GDP would be $16.4 billion higher if these racial gaps were erased. As retirees exit the workforce in large numbers, our state is facing an estimated shortfall of 400,000 workers by 2024. People of color are the fastest-growing segment of our population, yet our education gaps leave us unprepared to fill these jobs.

This isn’t the progress we expect in our progressive state. We have the resources to fuel prosperity. How do we unlock them for everyone in our community?

Expanding choices

We know that when we equip people with the knowledge, skills, and connections to thrive, they seize their opportunities. But too many Minnesota students and their families are not given that chance.

Despite deliberate effort and investment, our system of academic high schools is not meeting the needs of thousands of black and brown students. Unengaged by traditional classroom-based programs and unmotivated by their prospects after high school, roughly half do not make it to graduation, and so leave the system unprepared for work or further education. Those who are prepared face additional barriers. Where once a four-year college degree was a reliable path to prosperity, it’s become unaffordable, saddling students with debt that actually limits their future prospects.

There is more than one way to be successful and prosperous in life. But the choices our schools provide leave many students out of the equation. Some, but not all, will prosper in a four-year college program. Some will embrace a professional career track. Others have ambitions that check a different box.

How do we prevent students from falling through the cracks? By providing new choices and incentives and broadening how we define success. A four-year degree shouldn’t be the only outcome. We need a learning environment that meets students where they are and lets their interests and ambitions lead them forward.

Learn to earn

For students not driven by the promise of a four-year degree, landing a good-paying job out of high school can be a powerful motivation to stay in school and focus on their future.

That’s the promise of Career and Trade Education, or CTE. Once sidelined as a lesser diploma for low-performing students, CTE is having a renaissance. Today’s CTE model lets students personalize their education around their interests and unique learning needs. Instead of being a one-way ticket, CTE keeps all the options open, preparing students to jump into living-wage jobs or go on to two- or four-year college programs when they’re ready. CTE focuses on the innovation-driven careers our future economy needs: building trades, IT, health care, clean energy, entrepreneurship, and many more.

Opening this avenue to students during high school has a bottom-line impact. According to the U.S. Dept. of Education, eight years after their expected graduation date, students who focused on career and technical education while in high school had higher median annual earnings than students who did not focus on CTE.

On recent visits to CTE schools in Denver and New York City, I saw Black and Latino youth whose passion for learning was evident. Not only were they deeply engaged in their course of study, they knew exactly how they would apply their skills after graduation. Rather than reach for a lesser dream, they saw the experience as a launch pad to a better life. And the opportunity awaiting them is enormous. Instructors told me that local employers are coming to their school to find workers. You can feel the enthusiasm in the community. I saw everyone leaning in: encouraging students, contributing skills, and creating a network to carry students far beyond graduation.

It’s our time 

At Pillsbury United Communities, we see career and technical education as an essential new option for Minnesota youth, one with the power to change the economic outlook for families of color in high-poverty communities.

Realizing this model won’t be easy. It requires parents to demand more of a system that isn’t serving them well. It means prioritizing the needs of children and parents over the demands of the system. We need the engagement of industry leaders and lawmakers to create a model that works for business, families, and teachers as well as students.

We believe CTE is the engine of improvement we need to grow homeownership and entrepreneurship, to create better health outcomes and safer neighborhoods, and to give families a pathway out of poverty.

It’s time we expand opportunity to everyone. We have work to do, Minnesota.

Gifts that Give Back

"Women are Power" sign held up at Sisterhood Boutique

It’s that time of the year where many of us are out hustling and bustling in search of that perfect gift for someone special. While you are planning out your shopping stops, don’t forget to keep our social enterprises in mind. This holiday season, support your community by shopping with a purpose.

Gifts from Full Cycle

For the biker in your life, consider hitting up Full Cycle Bike Shop in South Minneapolis. From bikes to beanies, hoodies to buffs, t-shirts to studded tires—you’ll be sure to find great gear that supports a great cause. So much more than your run-of-the-mill bike shop, Full Cycle supports young people experiencing homelessness through employment and training in the shop, free bikes, emergency food access, and more.

Special Offer: Bring this coupon in to get 25% off all tune-ups and overhauls through December 31, 2019.

For your theatre enthusiast, don’t forget Pillsbury House & Theatre. As a hub for transformational art, it engages communities in important conversations that lead to positive changes. And guess what? Firmly rooted in a belief that theatre and the arts should be accessible to everyone, they use a pick-your-price ticketing system for their shows. So whether you can swing $15 or $5, you and yours can enjoy powerful works of art by local talent, and know your dollars help make their community building work possible.

Photos from Sisterhood Boutique

For your fashion-forward (and perhaps environmentalist?) friend, check out Sisterhood Boutique in Minneapolis’ Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. As a gently used clothing store that was designed by young East African women from the neighborhood about 5 years ago, today it continues to double as a youth employment program. So, not only can you snag some affordable, stylish clothes, but also know that your purchases support a space for young East African women to explore, express, and educate each other and their community. And hey—shopping resale is always kinder to our environment too.

Special offer: Make your dollars go even further! Bring this coupon in before December 21, 2019 to receive 25% off your total purchase.

Photos of North News & Student Journalists

For your news buff buddy, hook them up with an annual subscription to North News, a grassroots community news source that deepens understanding of and appreciation for North Minneapolis through interrogative and community-sourced journalism. And, what makes this media outlet extra special is that it’s produced in part by student journalists who are gaining media-making skills while expanding perceptions of their community. So not only could you get quality, locally curated news delivered to your (or your buddy’s) mailbox each month, but your subscription supports a training program that is preparing the next generation of journalists, reporters, and media-makers and shakers.

Special offer: Through December 31, 2019, get 50% off the annual subscription price with this coupon!

And for that person in your life who always seems to have the best music recommendations, introduce them to 98.9 FM KRSM, a radio station elevating the vibrant conversations of Minneapolis’ southside. With 20+ shows and programming in 6 languages, KRSM creates an on-ramp to media careers for youth and adults. While listening to the station is always free and there is currently no merchandise to purchase, one gifting option is to make a ‘tribute gift’ in honor, memory, or support of someone using their donation form. Your contribution supports a hyper-local platform amplifying the voices, stories, cultures, and conversations that are often misrepresented and erased by traditional media.

Photos of North Market

And, we can’t forget food for the festivities. Consider getting all your grocery needs at North Market, a new kind of grocery store uniting three elements of community health in one place: nutritious food, health care services, and community wellness. North Market hires from the surrounding northside community, pays living wages, and has products from over 20 local vendors on their shelves. Stock your cart with some fine red meats, delicious pies, fresh produce, and more and support local this holiday season. (And with any purchases of $100 or more, you get a $25 gift card in return!)

Special offer: Get 25% off fresh produce at North Market grocery store through December 31, 2019 with this coupon.

So—whether it’s bike gear, northside news, theatre tickets, or something else, shopping our social enterprises this holiday season is a win-win. You get affordable, quality gifts for the folks you love AND the dollars you spend go directly to supporting valuable opportunities for people in our communities. Truly, gifts that give back. Thanks for keeping us in mind.

Celebrating 140 years at Greater>Together 2019

Historical display at Greater Together 2019

On October 2, friends and supporters of Pillsbury United Communities joined at the Machine Shop in Northeast Minneapolis for Greater>Together, our annual fundraising gala. This year’s event was particularly meaningful for Pillsbury United, as 2019 marks our agency’s 140th anniversary.

The evening’s program helped bring the full breadth of this history to life, alongside a series of historical displays and murals specially prepared for the event. Mayor Jacob Frey was also on hand to officially commemorate the anniversary by proclaiming October 2, 2019 as Pillsbury United Communities Day. By the evening’s close, attendees came away with a renewed appreciation for the past, present, and future of our work, from the earliest roots of the settlement house movement to the 21st century.

Greater>Together represented the culmination of more than a year’s worth of research and story-gathering, drawing on an extensive archive of records and photographs maintained by the University of Minnesota’s Social Welfare History Archives (SWHA). These files date back to the earliest days of our agency. To prepare the event materials, Pillsbury United staff reviewed thousands of physical photographs and drew from more than a thousand newly digitized photos from the collection. Many of these images have never before been presented to the public.

“The archives show a side of history that isn’t always included in the historical narrative,” says Sam Daub, a content strategist at Pillsbury United Communities who oversaw much of the research and content-gathering. “You get a glimpse into the lives of regular people—not just the ‘great men’ of history, but families, immigrants, the working class… the people who came together to create the fabric of our communities. It’s a fascinating story that continues to resonate into the present day.”

Although much of this work was publicly unveiled at Greater>Together, followers of the Pillsbury United Facebook page have been receiving a preview every Friday since the start of 2019. Using the hashtag #pillsburyunited140, our agency has spotlighted key moments and fun facts spanning the entirety of our 140-year history. Some of these highlights include:

Although we are nearing the end of our 140th anniversary year, plans are already underway to continue exploring this rich and varied history into our 141st year and beyond. A new podcast, currently in pre-production and slated to begin in 2020, will highlight the impact of the tumultuous 1960’s on Minneapolis settlement houses. A series of planned talks at each of our neighborhood centers will also delve into the hyperlocal histories of the communities in which we’ve lived and worked.

“This history lives on in the communities and the people we serve,” Daub says. “By sharing these stories, we’re able to provoke new conversations about the scope and impact of our work since 1879. Ultimately, it’s all in service of sustaining and enriching the work we’re doing today.”

Click here to view photos from Greater>Together 2019.

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