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Saint Paul Foundation grants seek to address question of racial equity

logo-st-paul-foundationWith 133 requests from cities, schools and nonprofits, The Saint Paul Foundation has approved seven Advancing Racial Equity grants in honor of its 75th anniversary.

Applicants were asked to answer the question, “What will your organization do to advance racial equity in St. Paul or the East Metro?”

“These grants are representative of what I see as the emergence of a wide-spread yearning for honest self-expression,” explained Dr. Eric Jolly, president and CEO of Minnesota Philanthropy Partners, of which The Saint Paul Foundation is an affiliate. “How do we help people have honest self-expression when in doing so they do not have fair and equal access to our social institutions? Grants like these can help open their access.”

Organizations whose racial equity work is being funded by The Saint Paul Foundation’s 75th Anniversary Advancing Racial Equity grant program include Ujamaa Place and Better Futures, Saint Paul Youth Services (SPYS), Penumbra Theatre Company, New Star Aviation, Genesys Works Twin Cities, Dream of Wild Health and the city of Maplewood.

Ujamaa Place and Better Futures, two nonprofits working with marginalized African-American men, were awarded $42,500 for addressing racial disparity in the Ramsey County judicial system. The collaborative program will educate Ramsey County about alternatives to incarceration, including safe housing, counseling services, educational attainment, customized job training and workforce development.

SPYS partners with the community to give young people a safety net, second chances, and the skills to pursue their dreams. The group was awarded $42,500 for its project, Creating Youth-Centric Organizations to Advance Racial Equity. SPYS will host workshops for public, private, philanthropic and nonprofit groups to change how organizations and adults interact with youth of color.

Penumbra Theatre Company creates professional productions through the prism of the African-American experience. The organization was awarded $65,000 for its Summer Institute, which trains up to 70 students from the Twin Cities to identify issues of inequality, and works to create art that will illuminate the issues and use their passion for the arts to promote social justice and racial equity.

New Star Aviation seeks to grow the aerospace community by engaging a more diverse student population in aerospace education. New Star was awarded $25,000 for the Aerospace Diversity Outreach and Inclusion project, which includes free introductory flight experiences for participating students. Of the more than 71,000 pilots working for major U.S. airlines, only an estimated 674 are African-American, including 14 African-American female pilots.

Genesys Works Twin Cities, a nonprofit that provides economically disadvantaged high school students training and work experience to help them succeed as professionals, was awarded $25,000 for College and Career Success for Disadvantaged Youth. The project offers students eight weeks of skills training and places them in paid corporate internships in technology-related positions. It also includes trainings for workplace supervisors, to empower St. Paul companies to welcome students of diverse backgrounds.

Dream of Wild Health, a nonprofit focusing on health and well-being in the Twin Cities Native-American community, was awarded $25,000 for its American Indian Youth Education and Leadership Program. This project will educate St. Paul Native-American youth in issues of food access and sovereignty. Youth will assist at the East Side Indigenous Garden, the St. Paul Farmer’s Market and other activities.
The city of Maplewood was awarded $75,000 for Community is Not a Place: Advancing Racial Equity in Maplewood. The project includes diversity training, auditing the city’s current racial understanding and facilitating community gatherings between residents and police officers. Maplewood Police Chief Paul Schnell said the goal is to “provide Maplewood with the tools necessary to strengthen relationships and grow the voice of diverse communities in efforts to tackle racial disparities.”

October 15, 2015
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