Nexus is proud to acknowledge and commend the work of our former intern, Ashley James, on her excellent work in the Alameda County Assets Network in Oakland, California!

After graduating from the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, Ashley completed her internship with Nexus Community Partners and the Metropolitan Council of the Twin Cities in the summer of 2013, and moved to Oakland, CA, to lead the below initiative with the California Asset Building Coalition. Congratulations, Ashley, on all your hard work! We look forward to hearing many more good things in your future!


Alameda County Assets Network Releases Consumer Education Tool

The Alameda County Community Asset Network (AC CAN), a countywide asset-building coalition in the San Francisco Bay Area, just released a new toolkit that is a financial education curriculum with a community consciousness. The toolkit uses popular education to develop critical thinking skills regarding the long-term cost and community impact of predatory financial products and services. Toolkit participants become more informed consumers, keeping more money in their pockets and in local communities. It was recently awarded the 2013 Innovation Award from the California Asset Building Coalition, who found it this year’s most promising strategy to reduce poverty.

Click here to explore the Toolkit.

By Neeraj Mehta and Nelima Sitati

For some, the dominant storyline in the Twin Cities is that we are a vibrant and healthy place. We frequently make “top 10” lists of places to live because of our numerous social and economic assets. We are highly educated, mostly healthy and home to dozens of Fortune 100 and 500 companies. But for all the Twin Cities successes, one can point to real problems as well. The region benefits from numerous assets, but it continues to be unable to translate these benefits to everyone, specifically to communities of color. This truth is becoming more widely known and accepted in the Twin Cities, as report after report shines light on the numerous racial disparities in our region. Read more here.

Dec 2013: The Cooperative Model

Community Wealth Building: The Cooperative Model

Click here to read more about the December Thursday Night Issue Series, and click on the below links to hear the audio recordings of each of our fierce panelists!

View the photo gallery here.

LaDonna Redmond

Nieeta Presley

Pakou Hang

Yolanda Cotterall


“Why just workers? Why not owners?”

On Thursday, December 5th, 2013, over 40 community members braved the bitter Minnesota cold in order to share their reflections on why the cooperative model is important in communities of color as an asset/wealth building tool in the Twin Cities.

This Issue Series gathered a panel of four, fierce women of color including (pictured from right to left) LaDonna Redmond, Nieeta Presley, Pakou Hang, and Yolanda Cotterall, who shared their respective experiences working with cooperatives in the food justice movement, economic development, and the labor movement.

The event, hosted at Hope Community, Inc., was part of Nexus’ Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute (BCLI) Thursday Night Issue Series, which are free and open to the public and happen once each month from October to March.

Click on the below links to hear each speaker’s segment of the panel. Or click here to view the photo gallery of the event. 

LaDonna Redmond
Founder, Campaign for Food Justice Now
Education & Outreach Coordinator, Seward Co-op

“So this question of access to the market is really a political issue; it is not really about shopping…That’s one element of it, but the real question is can you own it? Can you own the co-op? And because of the cooperative principles, access to ownership is there and available…And that’s the essential question: How much are we willing to pay to become owners of businesses that will lift our communities out of poverty?”

LaDonna Redmond

Nieeta Presley
Executive Director
Aurora/St. Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation

We’re talking about long-term; we’re talking about sustainability. We’re talking about futures, so that community folk don’t have to wait for [insert organization] to come along and do what the community knows that it needs. If you have your cooperative in place, and it’s built and it’s around real estate development, you can do your own thing. You can do it based on your members.”

Nieeta Presley

Pakou Hang
Executive Director
Hmong American Farmers Association

“There are institutional barriers against …what we are trying to do, so we have to create institutions themselves to fight against those same institutional barriers. And for me that’s why cooperatives are so important, because they are an institutional structure that allows us to combat some of these larger dynamics.”

Pakou Hang

Yolanda Cotterall
Greater Minnesota Program Director
Latino Economic Development Center

“There were only so many opportunities out there for economic development [for Latinos in rural Minnesota]…They [Latinos] were working as farm laborers, they were working in dairy farms, they were working in the meat-packing plants, they were working in all sorts of low-income jobs, and they were the skill – people – that were doing that work…And we started to look at that and think, ‘Well, why just workers? Why not owners?’”

Yolanda Cotterall

For more information about the BCLI Thursday Night Issue Series, the BCLI, or any upcoming events, please contact the program associate, Ms. Angie Brown, at

The Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute (BCLI) fellows began training in October, and are well on their way to becoming placed on city boards and commissions in the Twin Cities (four are already seated). The fellows will work to ensure that the rights of people of color and underrepresented communities are honored through policies made at the local level. As LeMoine LaPointe said, the fellows will not be changing this region alone, and we recognize that the BCLI is only one strategy being implemented in the racial equity movement in the Twin Cities.

LeMoine LaPointe

As part of the BCLI Thursday Night Issue Series, Nexus partners with local organizations and leaders to highlight other strategies and initiatives in the local equity movement. This month we are highlighting the use of cooperatives in building wealth in communities of color in the Twin Cities.

Join us this Thursday to hear how these four leaders of color are using the cooperative business model as a strategy to advance equity in our communities:

We hope to see you this Thursday to explore this one strategy of community wealth building, and look forward to learning together as we move forward!

All Thursday Night Issue Series are free and open to the public. This event is being held this Thursday, December 5, 2013, from 5:30-8pm at Hope Community Inc – RSVP here.

For more information about the event or the BCLI, contact the program associate, Ms. Angie Brown, at, or the program director, Ms. Terri Thao, at

Nov 2013: Social Capital and Opportunity

Capitalizing on the Collective Network: Social Capital and Opportunity Structures

Check out this video of Amaha Sellassie on social capital from November’s event: Part 1 of 2: Leadership in the Twin Cities: Our Networks. Our Future. Capitalizing on the Collective Network. This event was part of our Thursday Night Issue Series partnership with NLP Link-Up – click here for more information about Part 2 coming up in January!

View the photo gallery here.

Our apologies that the recorder we used on November 7th had some technical difficulties, and therefore we’re unable to upload the links to each panelist’s speech. Our speakers included: Diane Tran, Jay Kiedrowski, & Kristin Johnstad.

As promised we are sharing an update from the community discussion of a potential Juvenile “Reception Center” on the East Side of Saint Paul. All attendees of the October 16, 2013 should receive invitations via email to upcoming community discussions of this proposal. We will share any updates or invites as we learn more.


Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) Stakeholders Group

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Meeting notes

Brief on JDAI:

JDAI ensures that only youth who are an imminent public safety threat or flight risk are placed in juvenile detention. A detention screening tool is used to assess whether a youth needs to be in detention, or can be placed under community supervision (community based alternative). Imbedded in the effort which brings justice and community stakeholders together, is eliminating racial disparities, investing in community based and culturally responsive approaches to youth supervision and rehabilitation.

Brief on JDAI Stakeholders Group (from meeting agenda handout):

The Stakeholder Group provides an excellent forum for resolution of JDAI/Disproportionate Minority Confinement and Contact (DMC) issues.  The initiative involves many jurisdictions, agencies, administrations, sectors and communities.  It promotes a high degree of integration into the initiatives’ operational mission performance, but also challenges previous processes and assumptions for juvenile justice administration.  The Stakeholder Group process helps reinforce the positive aspects of the former structures and provides JDAI/DMC-specific oversight and advocacy.

There were a diverse group of agencies at the meeting including (this is not a complete list):

  • Saint Paul Youth Services
  • 180 Degrees
  • YWCA of St. Paul
  • Neighborhood House
  • Urban Roots
  • Communities United Again Police Brutality
  • St. Paul Police Department (SPPD)
  • Roseville Police Department
  • Ramsey County Public Defender’s Office
  • Ramsey County Attorney’s Office
  • Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office
  • Ramsey County Community Corrections
  • St. Paul Public Schools
  • Supreme Court in Paraguay (to listen and learn)
  • A couple of St. Paul community members


Quarterly statistics from Corrections/St. Paul Police Dept. were presented and discussed.  (Information was provided via Powerpoint/handout. Statistical reports and quarterly meeting handouts have been made public on line at  although information has not been recently updated.)

  • Admissions to detention by race continue to indicate an alarmingly disproportionate number of children of color –particularly Black children- compared with white children are being detained.  Quarter 3 admission by race: 62.8% Black; 8.7% Asian; 5.9% Latino; 1.4% Native; 9.7% white; 11.5% other
  • Admissions to detention have increased in the 3rd quarter and are likely to see 2013 end higher than 2012 –continuing a trend of increased admissions since at least 2010.  Primary reasons for detention admissions are: felony –new offenses charged 43.8%; warrant 18.8% and misdemeanor new offense charged 17.4%.  Admissions due to probation violation and court order have declined in 2013.
  • Top offenses that have gone through Risk Assessment Instrument (RAI) process ( ) include: Runway, Theft (value of <$499) and truancy
  • From Jan 2012-Sept.2013 there were 2293 RAIs done
  • Top zip codes: 55106 (39%) 55104 (19%) and 55117 (15%)


A brief overview was provided on SPPD prevention programs and partnerships which included individualized officer involvement in mentoring programs and department-wide programs.  Chief Smith spoke about one particular program where grant money was obtained to hire 16 youth workers to serve Downtown St. Paul providing outreach and serving as a buffer between the SPPD and community.  Funding for that program has ended.

An overview of Ramsey County Decision Point Data Pull Process Map was provided that mapped key decision points starting at the input for arrest (school, home, community) to police arrest (citation/refer to County Attorney, diversion, JDC) all the way through the court system and  juvenile probation.  A map of this process was included in the handout.  There were remarks around gaps in the system and where youth/families were not being reached.

There was a brief discussion on recommendations by consultant Bobbie Huskey ( regarding juvenile justice redesign. In her report where her consulting group was retained by Ramsey County Community Corrections Department, she recommends new programs “for pre-adjudicated youth to reduce the number of youth who would otherwise be brought to detention or confined in detention” including a “Community Intervention Center (CIC).”  The full report is available at:

There was a posing of questions around community based investments in positive youth development with a brief discussion.   The point was to consider a range of services that youth need in the community to be both productively engaged and to avoid involvement in formal services (i.e. police, courts, juvenile corrections and human services.)  The group was asked to consider the following questions:

  • Do we have a full array of community-based investments in positive youth development for Ramsey County youth?
  • Are these investments targeted where the need is the greatest?
  • What critical investment are missing in Ramsey County?
  • What is/are the purpose(s) of each of the investment gaps identified?

Some suggested critical investment gaps included:

  • More recreation centers in challenged neighborhoods
  • Park and Recreation Centers hours that correspond to youth need
  • Youth outreach workers
  • Mobile Crisis Unit (with youth focus)
  • Safe zone’s for youth
  • Self-referring shelter facility for youth
  • More homeless youth shelters
  • Employment opportunities for youth
  • Juvenile reception/service center
  • Mobile mental health crisis unit for youth
  • Drop-in counseling and crisis center for youth
  • Culturally responsive community-based services to youth and their families.

The group was asked to think about they see priorities are for positive youth development.  For the sake of discussion, they were asked, what could $500k do to support this?  There was discussion around the limited capacity of rec centers and disinvestments in (summer) youth employment programming.  One person brought up that many nonprofits are operating at 80% of what they were 3 years ago and stretching to provide services.  The Selby Ave. Jazz Fest was brought up as a significant community investment to build community.

The idea of a Juvenile Reception Center was the final item on the meeting agenda for JDAI to begin to discuss how (if) they want to be a part of the process.

Toni Carter, who was chairing the meeting, prefaced the discussion of a Juvenile Reception Center by stating this was a first discussion for the JDAI Stakeholder Group.  In light of the discussion, she recommend on a couple of occasions to weigh the idea centered on JDAI’s guiding principles (which can be found at ), specifically referencing the principle that “the initiative cannot succeed without the active engagement and full participation of families and communities as stakeholders.”

There was a brief overview of the two Juvenile Reception Center models from Hennepin County and Multnomah County (Oregon):

1) Hennepin County partners with the Link in Minneapolis to run the Juvenile Service Center where the Link services children who are picked up for truancy, curfew of low level offenses.  Youth are assessed and referred to community services.  They had 2,546 “visits” in 2010, providing more intensive case management to 232 youth.  ( The LINK web information )

2) Multnomah County’s goal is to provide police with an easy and quick place to release juveniles, allowing the officer to get back on the street.  Youth are screened, provided referrals and have on-going case management. (County web information )

There were a few comments specifically critiquing the above models.  One person who traveled to Portland to see their Juvenile Reception Center expressed great concern over Multnomah County’s model, saying that it merely creates a middleman to the process, which isn’t necessary.  He also referenced that the center did little to support youth and their families by providing a weak referral to other community services.  One person cited issues that the Link staff did not reflect the demographic of youth coming into the center ( ), putting into question the effectiveness of their engagement with youth.  In Hennepin County, there is also an alarming disproportionate number of Black children coming into the Juvenile Service Center and system as a whole.

Ramsey County Attorney’s Office appeared to take the stance of figuring out how to resolve gaps within the County’s system and what the role of a Reception Center might be in this case (here the Ramsey County Decision Point Data Pull Process Map would be insightful).  They expressed wanting to understand what the system lacked.  An example of this sentiment could be found when John Choi stated, “A community reception center is a part of the solution if it’s done correctly…(it) will be a value to the community.”

The group was asked to consider if a reception center model is the solution they want to see –was this something JDAI wants to engage and advocate for?  (The question of who/what agency has the ultimate decision power to decide up on a Reception Center was brought up but not specifically addressed.)

One question brought up multiple times was what was the goal of a reception center?  If we understand that a system is built for the outcomes that the system wants, then just what does the system want?  There was a lack of clarity about the “why.”  One woman brought up a point of schools and truancy stating a need for advocacy responses that don’t require an introduction to the system.  Multiple people (including 180 Degrees) raised the question of youth and community engagement about the model –what do youth have to say about this?

There was discussion about next steps for JDAI Stakeholders Group to consider their engagement with the Reception Center Model.  At first, the idea was thrown out that a work group get together and provide an initial recommendation to the Stakeholder Group at the next Quarterly meeting, which will be held January 15, 2014.  Chief Smith recommended people actually take a closer look at the LINK and Portland models, citing enthusiasm for SPPD’s VIP model (Violence Intervention and Prevention Initiative).  It was decided that an email would go out to the group (including people who provided contact information on the sign in sheet) to draw together a group to pursue next steps.

The next JDAI Quarterly Stakeholders Meeting will take place Wednesday, January 15, 2014 (noon-1:30pm) at St. Paul Public Schools, 360 Colborne Street, St. Paul.



Nexus Community Partners officially launched its inaugural Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute (BCLI) on Thursday, October 10th, 2013!  Over 40 community members joined us at the Wellstone Center in St. Paul for this celebratory and inspiring event as we introduced the first twelve fellows to the community. Click here to meet the fellows.  Already they are generating interests around the Twin Cities.

Launch Event Photo of Fellows_Compressed

During the event, we were honored to hear from three local long-time social justice leaders who shared their experiences strengthening communities of color and advancing equity in the Twin Cities. Speakers Gary Cunningham, LeMoine LaPointe, and Professor Nekima Levy-Pounds offered the BCLI fellows their words of support and encouragement in a Fireside Chat format. They reminded the fellows that we, as a community, are in this together, and that we all have the responsibility to support one another in creating positive social and structural change for the region:


“This is about our families and our communities and our children, and our children’s children. And the question I ask each of us sitting here today is what are you going to do? What are we going to do? What is your responsibility to do something to address it?” Gary Cunningham


“It’s time for a game change to begin to happen. So I’m seeing our fellows as game changers. And pace-setters. So we can break the cycles that exist … So it’s time for something new.” Professor Nekima Levy-Pounds


“Even if they stand by themselves, they have to stand up. If there are rights to be demanded, they have to be demanded. We can’t ask for our rights to be honored. We have to demand they be honored…We can do this together…We’ve got your back.” LeMoine LaPointe  


The BCLI will train and place these qualified candidates from diverse populations onto city boards and commissions in Minneapolis and Saint Paul. The fellows will have the capacity and community support to advance a regional agenda for equity in the five core issue areas of the program: economic development, employment, health, housing and transportation. These leaders will serve as the next generation of elected and appointed officials who are representative of, and accountable to, the region’s communities of color and other underrepresented populations – creating real demands and real change for our children, our community and the Twin Cities region.


Join us for our Thursday Night Issue Series to engage with community partners on current issues in Minnesota and the Twin Cities region. Our first Thursday Night Issue Series will be held in partnership with the Neighborhood Leadership Program (NLP) Link-up Series: Leadership in the Twin Cities: Our Networks. Our Future, on Thursday, November 7th, 2013, from 5:30-8pm at the Center for Changing Lives. Click here for details and to register for the event.


A huge thank you to the staff and American Indian youth of MIGIZI Communications for filming and producing the videos of the Launch Event! You can watch these videos of our panelists on Nexus’ YouTube channel here.


For more information about the BCLI, contact the program associate, Ms. Angie Brown, at, or the program director, Ms. Terri Thao, at

Nexus Community Partners, and the Community Engagement Team (CET) of the Corridors of Opportunity are pleased to announce the availability of a 3rd round of CET funding.  Attached please find the guidelines and application for the Capacity grants. Applications are due on Friday, November 29th at 4:00 PM. We will be hosting an informational session at Nexus Community Partners, 2314 University Ave, St. Paul, MN 55114 on Wednesday, October 30th from 9:30-10:30 am.

Please note that only those organizations that have NOT received  CET funding in the past are eligible to apply for the capacity building grants.  Also, please be aware that there is a limited amount of funding available. The maximum grant amount is $10,000 and there will be approximately 5-7 grants awarded.

Round 3 Capacity Grant Application Final round 3 Capacity Grant Application Guidelines FINAL

Round 3 Capacity Grant Application Final

You can learn more about the Community Engagement Team’s work over the past few years here.


This afternoon, Danielle Mkali of Nexus had the opportunity to listen to Jay Bad Heart Bull, Daniel Yang and Sasha Houston-Brown of the Native American Community Development Institute explain their upcoming Mayoral forum on Thursday, October 17th and their voter engagement efforts.

Why does Minneapolis need and American Indian Mayoral Forum?

Over the past two years NACDI has been doing culturally specific voter engagement efforts. Last year, Daniel Yang as a part of his work with Wellstone Action and a partnership between NACDI and Little Earth of United Tribes launched an overwhelmingly successful voter engagement and registration effort at Little Earth.

This year, NACDI is focusing on the Mayoral election as well as rank choice voter education. Which as Houston-Brown puts it, “whether you have a GED or Phd no one really knows much about rank choice voting.” There will be a rank choice education session at Little Earth on Wednesday, October 30th.

NACDI works to make Native American culture and spirituality a part of their day -to-day work and so it should in elections and voter engagement as well.

“We needed a native specific forum to excite our community and engage in them in the process. We are not only reactive but we will inform and guide the process.” said, Bad Heart Bull.

The idea of having the Mayoral candidates come to Franklin Ave, to NACDI and our community is important, too often the Native community doesn’t see themselves or their communities vision represented in local political forums.  Houston- Brown explained that, “I haven’t heard any (Mayoral) candidates discuss the Native American vision for our community. We are really left out of all of that. We will be exposing candidates, to all of the issues, sovereignty and tribal offices in the city, the assets and challenges of our community. We have one of the largest populations of Urban American Indians in the country. “

The forum plans to focus on issues of sovereignty, health, education and what is on the Minneapolis American Indian community’s hearts and minds.

The Minneapolis American Indian Mayoral Forum takes place this Thursday, October 17th, 7:00-8:30pm at NACDI 1414 East Franklin Ave, Minneapolis, reception; 6:00pm, forum 7:00-8:30pm.