Youth Organizing Partnership

by Margaret Kaplan | Aug 31, 2010
| 1 Comment
Competition Winner

This entry has been selected as a winner in the
SpectrumTrust Multicultural Endowment competition.

Summary:

Safe and healthy housing conditions are something that it is easy to take for granted. After all, there are laws and codes that are supposed to protect everyone, regardless of race or national origin, from unsafe living conditions. Despite the laws on the books, some communities experience barriers to asserting their rights due to a lack of housing options for people who are undocumented. When each complaint brings with it the risk of retaliation with no recourse, people learn not to complain, whether the retaliation is in the form of illegal rent increases, eviction, or even the risk of deportation. However, communities do have the power to change this.

MCNO has recently embarked on a collaboration between Latino youth and their families living in North Minneapolis who are experiencing housing challenges, and Hmong youth who have been engaged in grassroots issues organizing campaigns for the past five years. The goal of this project is for community members to learn from each other, develop priority issues to work on, develop strategies to address those issues, and to successfully address disparities in living conditions that people are currently tolerating.

A critical component of this project is self determination. The 120 families of the housing complex who are experiencing sub-par housing conditions have the right to determine the specific priorities for their community. Community leadership and ownership of the issues and solutions is the only way to address these housing disparities in a sustainable way.

About You

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About You

First Name

Margaret

Last Name

Kaplan

Title

Operations Director

Organization

Minnesota Center for Neighborhood Organizing

Country

United States, MN, Hennepin County

About Your Organization

Organization Name

Minnesota Center for Neighborhood Organizing

Organization Email

Organization Website

Organization Phone

6126242300

Organization Address

330 HHH Center, 301 19th Ave. S.

Organization City

Minneapolis

Organization Zipcode

55455

Brief description of your organization

The Minnesota Center for Neighborhood Organizing provides training, technical assistance, and support for people involved in grass-roots, issues-based organizing. The goal of our work is to ensure that everyone in a community has the ability to shape the future of their neighborhood. We are based at the U of M and our fiscal agent is the U of M Foundation. Jan Gerstenberger 612-624-8374.

Organization Country

United States, MN, Hennepin County

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Your idea

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Name your project

Youth Organizing Partnership

Country your work focuses on

United States, MN, Hennepin County

Describe your project. Explain the extent to which it mitigates the effects of racism

Safe and healthy housing conditions are something that it is easy to take for granted. After all, there are laws and codes that are supposed to protect everyone, regardless of race or national origin, from unsafe living conditions. Despite the laws on the books, some communities experience barriers to asserting their rights due to a lack of housing options for people who are undocumented. When each complaint brings with it the risk of retaliation with no recourse, people learn not to complain, whether the retaliation is in the form of illegal rent increases, eviction, or even the risk of deportation. However, communities do have the power to change this.
MCNO has recently embarked on a collaboration between Latino youth and their families living in North Minneapolis who are experiencing housing challenges, and Hmong youth who have been engaged in grassroots issues organizing campaigns for the past five years. The goal of this project is for community members to learn from each other, develop priority issues to work on, develop strategies to address those issues, and to successfully address disparities in living conditions that people are currently tolerating.
A critical component of this project is self determination. The 120 families of the housing complex who are experiencing sub-par housing conditions have the right to determine the specific priorities for their community. Community leadership and ownership of the issues and solutions is the only way to address these housing disparities in a sustainable way.

Project starting date

11/1/10

Project ending date

10/31/11

Total project budget - required field

$24,000

Website URL

Innovation

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What makes your project unique?

This project in unique for several reasons. First, it is one of the few efforts to do grass-roots organizing in the North Minneapolis Latino community. We are only able to engage in this work because of efforts by our organization to build relationships of trust, and the partnership that we have created with Ascension Church. Additionally, our organization has a unique and longstanding relationship with the North Minneapolis Hmong community. Through years of leadership development and support for local organizing efforts, we are in a position where we can work with community members in an honest and open way.

We are also unique because we have capacity within our staff to reach deep into communities because of language skills and cultural competence. The key staff members on this project, Yia Yang and Hannah Garcia, have unique skills and experiences as community organizers, that will make this project successful.

Additionally, this project approaches issues related to housing from a position of success and strength. Youth and their families who are new to organizing will have the opportunity to learn skills and to see successful organizing in actions. While each community has a different set of priority issues, seeing examples of successful youth organizing and working with other successful youth organizers will allow people to develop new skills and new confidence.

Additionally, this organizing effort is unique because it is genuinely coming from the community. In the past people have tried to organize around these same housing issues in this community, but have approached it very much as outsiders swooping in and fixing problems. This has resulted in the eviction of tenant leaders and no real changes. Our approach is different. It is the community members who determine what the specific priorities will be, and it is the community members who develop the strategies to work on those priorities. MCNO supports, but the community leads.

Impact

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Tell us about the social impact of your project as it relates to ONE of these three areas: Education, Employment or Housing

Disparities based on race and national origin have allowed unsafe housing conditions to exist. However, a lack of housing options for people who do not have legal status in this country, coupled with fears of retaliation mean that every decisions, even decisions that appear on the surface to be designed to improve these conditions, must be made with full knowledge of the consequences and by the people who are directly affected.

The Latino families we are working with live in a specific housing complex that has multiple repair and safety issues. Among the issues that families are coping with are bedbugs, rats, rotting wood that lets water into the units when it rains, unsecured doors that allow nonresidents open access to the buildings, and safety concerns in the parking lot. These conditions have persisted because the building management has created a culture of fear through years of retaliation against tenants challenging substandard living conditions. Additionally, there are very few options available for families who do not have documentation.

Families who for years have been tolerating these conditions because they felt like they had no choice, are now at a point where they want to begin to adress these disparities. However, they want to do so on their terms, making sure that they do not lose the housing that they currently have in the effort to improve that housing. This project will ensure that Latino and Hmong youth will have the chance to share strategies, that they will have resources and support, and that they will improve 120 units of housing.

List any specific activities associated with the project and a timeline for the activities

On an ongoing basis we will engage in one on one relationship building dialogues with community members. Monthly cross cultural trainings with Latino and Hmong community members to discuss the issues and challenges of grassroots organizing. Additionally, we will engage in the following time-line of activities:
November - December: community members research issues related to housing conditions including inspections work, potential redevelopment plans that amy impact the area, and history of retaliation by landlord (evictions, rent increases, etc.). First major convening.
January - March: community members will determine one priority issues to work on that is both winnable and deeply felt. They will develop a strategy for addressing the issue, potentially including recruiting allies, engaging with city officials, and utilizing the press.
April - June: Develop time-line and begin organizing strategies for other priority issues. Second major community convening.
July - October: Continued work on priority housing issues. We will work with community members to determine what if any structure is necessary for sustaining organizing efforts in the long term. Third major convenin

Please summarize the involvement of people of color in the decision-making of your project

The philosophy underlying our work is that communities have the absolute right to make decisions about issues that effect them. The decisions about priorities and strategies to address substandard housing conditions are in the hands of the Latino families who are currently living with those conditions. The key staff members, Hannah Garcia and Yia Yang, will support these efforts and help facilitate opportunities for the Latino families and the Hmong families to work together, but the ultimate decision making rests with the people who have to live with the consequences of those decisions.

Please list which communities of color your project will involve and/or impact

This project with focus on the Latino community and the Hmong community

What age group will your project impact?

Children (0-12 years), Teens/adolescents (13-19 years), Adults (20-60 years), Elders (60+ years).

Which gender(s) will your project focus on?

Male, Female.

What geographic area(s) will your project affect?

Twin Cities Metro Area (specify below).

If you selected either Twin Cities Metro Area or Other above, please specify or identify the area

North Minneapolis

Sustainability

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What stage is your project in?

Operating for less than a year

If your project is a collaborative effort, please list the other organizations involved

This project is done in collaboration with Ascension Church, the primary Latino church in North Minneapolis. Many of the tenants are congregants of Ascension. They have been an instrumental part of both the organizing efforts and supporting a youth soccer team that was created to bring families together and create connections between Latino and Hmong youth. The contact at Ascension is Pedro Ochoa 612-719-3085.

Who or what is expected to change as a result of your project?

We expect three primary outcomes:
1) improved housing conditions through grassroots, community driven organizing efforts
2) leadership developed and social capital created in the North Minneapolis Latino community
3) cross cultural connections created between North Minneapolis Latino and Hmong youth

What information will you provide in the final report to demonstrate the achievement of your results?

We will provide information about the specific activities and events, the number of people who were involved in those activities and in what capacity, and evaluation by participants in events about the success of those efforts. We will also provide information about specific changes in the housing conditions that families are experiencing.

What methods will be used to gather the information?

We will do group evaluations after each event to gauge the level of success of the event. We will also do individual one on one interviews of participants to determine the extent to which people feel that cross cultural connections were created and social capital was developed. Finally we will consult city inspection reports to determine to what extent persistent housing issues were addressed.

What do you hope to learn about racism and its impact?

Current housing conditions are a direct result of systemic racism and a system that finds legal status more important than the health and safety of children. Through this project we hope to learn how grassroots, community driven organizing can overcome systemic challenges. We also hope to determine the extent that cross cultural connections can strengthen anti-racist organizing efforts.

What percentage do people of color comprise your board of directors?

50%

Documentation

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Funding sources: Please check all that apply

Foundations, Earned revenue, State government.

Other

In submitting this application, the applicant agrees to the following (check all boxes)

The applicant will spend the money solely for the purpose stated in the grant award and will return the unexpended portion of the funds, if any. In addition, the applicant will provide an interim and/or final report, as required., The applicant realizes that payment of funds will be at the convenience of the Foundation. The Foundation reserves the right to cancel the grant and/or modify previously agreed-upon payments should such actions be deemed necessary by the Foundation., The applicant understands that the Foundation may review any or all information submitted as part of this request with advisors of the Foundation’s choosing, if deemed necessary by the Foundation., The applicant intends to comply with the terms of the Minnesota Charitable Solicitation Act (MS §309), if applicable..

Martina Yusay said: Partnership is really a good deal! Indeed, this will be gonna big help to our Youth. - Michael Courouleau about this Competition Entry. - 1486 days ago read more >
Youth Organizing Partnership has been chosen as a winner in SpectrumTrust Multicultural Endowment. - 2515 days ago

Margaret Kaplan updated this Competition Entry. - 2577 days ago

Margaret Kaplan submitted this idea. - 2583 days ago