LOCC Healing Report

  • Story By: Chai Lee

On Wednesday, June XX, 2017 the Leaders of Color Collaborative (LOCC) released its healing report below.


Coming Soon

Nexus Community Partners is excited to announce the new nomination/application packet for 2017-2018 Twin Cities Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute (BCLI). Already in its fifth year, the BCLI trains people of color and other underrepresented communities to serve publicly appointed boards and commissions in support of a racial and economic equity agenda. The full nomination packet is available on the Nexus website. Nominations are due via email or postmarked on Friday, June 16, 2017 at midnight.

The BCLI is a seven month fellowship institute that runs from October to April. Fellows are trained in the content, political and technical skills to set them up for success in their service on a board or commission which is all provided with a racial and economic equity lens. Fellows are expected to commit to the monthly training sessions, which include one full-day Saturday Session each month and attendance at our all five of our monthly Thursday Night Issue Series, where we present on current issues in our topic areas of economic development, health, housing, transit and workforce development. The Thursday Night Issue Series are also open to the general public.

Nexus will hold three information sessions in Brooklyn Park on May 18th, St. Paul on May 31st, and North Minneapolis on June 8th all in the evening to present more details about the program and answer questions from potential applicants. BCLI alumni will also be present to share their experience in the program. Email reminders to attend the information sessions will be sent out two weeks before each session.

Come to one of our three Info Sessions!

 May 18, 2017      Information Session  (Brooklyn Park)

5:30-7 PM Brooklyn Park Library:Shingle Creek Room

8500 W. Broadway Ave.
Brooklyn Park, MN 55445


 May 31, 2017      Information Session  (St. Paul)

5:30-7 PM Rondo Library: Multipurpose Room

461 Dale St N

St Paul, MN 55104


 June 8, 2017      Information Session  (Minneapolis)

5:30-7 PM North Regional Library:North Regional Meeting Room, South Half
1315 Lowry Ave N
Minneapolis, MN 55411



The Twin Cities BCLI is an adaptation from the Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute originally created by Urban Habitat in Oakland, California.

If you have any questions, please contact the Nexus BCLI staff below:


Chai Lee

Program Coordinator

Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute

Nexus Community Partners

2314 University Ave W, Suite 18

St. Paul, MN 55114

(651) 289-7029



Terri Thao

Program Director

Nexus Community Partners

2314 University Ave W, Suite 18

St. Paul, MN 55114




On Thursday, April 13, 2017, the Twin Cities’ Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute (BCLI) at Nexus Community Partners graduated 16   fellows in the 2016-2017 cohort.

About 50 family, friends, nominators and even funders packed the space at Mid-City Kitchen for the ceremony. Nexus CEO/President Repa Mekha welcomed the crowd and noted the 16 graduates join a group of 41 current alumni, adding to the network of 57 equity champions. BCLI Program Director Terri Thao shared highlights and a slide show from the program year. Fellow Sheronda Orridge performed a spoken word pieced called “You Can’t Tell Me What I Know,” Two graduating fellows, Manu Lewis and Jacquelyn Thomas shared their personal stories on what they learned and personal impact of the BCLI program.

New MN State Representative Fue Lee (DFL-59A) delivered the graduation keynote address. Representative Lee spoke to the value of leveraging networks and allies to move policy and fight for policies that matter to our communities. He encouraged everyone in attendance that “now more than ever is when we have to find the will to affect our local communities at all levels of politics, and in particular,on boards and commissions.”

The program ended with graduates being given certificates of complete and second part of their stipends. And in the tradition of the program, each graduate was gifted with  a framed poster  from local artist, activist and elderRicardo Levins Morales. It was a wonderful evening and Nexus and BCLI staff look forward to the future contributions from this year’s fellows to the community.

Community Engagement Team (CET)

The Community Engagement Team, part of the Corridors of Opportunity initiative, was formed to create a process for engaging and involving underrepresented communities in all aspects of planning, decision-making and implementation along our region’s proposed transit-way corridors. In 2010, Nexus Community Partners, along with the Alliance for Metropolitan Stability and the Minnesota Center for Neighborhood Organizing, were invited to serve as the CET team.  The team knew that if they wanted to accomplish their goals, they needed to create a strong partnership, so the three organizations spent time getting to know one another and building trust. This early work was critical and built a foundation upon which the partners were able to accomplish far more than they imagined.

After just two years,

The Community Engagement Team’s accomplishments include:

•   Distributing $750,000 over two years to support 19 community-based organizations and building awareness to more than 25,000 traditionally underrepresented residents about transitway development and decision-making.

•   Designing decision-making structures and processes that are community-driven, including a community-based Grant Review Committee and a Community Engagement Steering Committee.

•   Playing a leadership role in helping the Corridors of Opportunity develop a definition of Equitable Development, as well as a Principle of Equitable Development that was adopted by the Metropolitan Council (Met Council).

•   Working with the Met Council to develop equity criteria used in ranking Local Implementation Capacity Grants.

•   Creating an infrastructure that ensures communities are benefiting from development opportunities beyond the Corridors of Opportunity funding.

•   Replicating the work in other cities across the country.

The CET continues to bring together and work with representatives from the public, government and non-profit sectors to build and advance working relationships and find common areas of work.  By linking neighborhoods to regional institutions, decision-making and economic opportunities, the CET is helping to ensure more integrated, equitable and sustainable change in the Twin Cities region.

Learn more at www.engagetc.org


The blue collar jobs of yesterday are gone, and higher skill levels are now required even for first jobs. On the East Side of St. Paul there are a growing number of workers without the skills needed to benefit from even the most basic job training…. read more ESI Case Study compressed (PDF)

South Minneapolis Case Study

  • Story By: Chai Lee

The Midtown section of Lake Street has historically been home to many immigrant small businesses. As the neighborhoods surrounding Lake Street became more racially and ethnically diverse in the 1990’s, so did the business community. Read more….S Mpls Case Study (PDF)


  • Story By: Chai Lee

The Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ) creates a coordinated comprehensive and long-term approach to addressing challenges and opportunities in North Minneapolis….

Read the full story (PDF) 

Capacity Building with African Economic Development Solutions

African Economic Development Solutions (AEDS) emerged out of a small group of immigrants who were concerned about the decline of businesses in Oromo, Ethiopian, and Eritrean communities (OE&E). The mission of AEDS is to support wealth creation within these communities.

Our organization began in response to a growing awareness of the barriers to economic opportunity many in our community faced. In the beginning, AEDS did not have enough capacity to provide the services our community was requesting, so local OE&E business owners provided financial and in kind support along with local economic development organizations. Today, we provide customized financial literacy training, micro-entrepreneurship training and coaching assistance for individuals and small businesses.

What was the project supported by Nexus?

Nexus Community Partners has supported the work of AEDS since 2010. Nexus’ grant helped build the capacity of AEDS, supported initiatives that built wealth in our communities, and helped build relationships with other organizations.

What were the outcomes of the project?

To date, we have helped 40 individuals/families start or expand their businesses. Because of our work, individuals and families were able to receive culturally specific services and access important resources. Our entrepreneurs have been building wealth not only for themselves, but also for members of the OE&E communities through job creation. The work of AEDS has changed how others perceive our communities.

What was Nexus’ value to the project?

Nexus understands asset building in immigrant communities. Their support of our work has been critical not only by providing financial resources, but also through strategic guidance and technical support to help us build capacity and connect to other resources. They are willing to invest in AEDS because they know the demand and need for culturally specific wealth building services is high. They didn’t wait to invest in us until we secured other funds nor did they require other resources as requirement to provide funding. They worked with us knowing that AEDS was a start-up organization and is the first of its kind in our communities.

What’s up next for AEDS?

AEDS has brought value to its communities and the nonprofit environment.  The need for our services has increased over the years. Our entrepreneurs express their appreciation for our work and the impact it has in our communities.  They particularly appreciate the cultural connections.  Because of our strong relationships and trust in our communities, AEDS will continue to work in supporting wealth building strategies for years to come.