Nexus is proud and excited to share that three of our community partners are receiving the 2017 Bush Prize for Community Innovation!

Congratulations to Appetite for Change, the Hmong American Farmers Association and the Latino Economic Development Center for the well-deserved recognition and added capacity for all your amazing work in community!

“Now in its fifth year, the Bush Prize celebrates organizations that are extraordinary not only in what they do but in how they do it. As models of true problem solving, they work inclusively, in partnership with others, to make their communities better for all.

“’The Bush Prize recognizes organizations that are creative, fierce and dogged in the way they work and in what they accomplish,” said Bush President Jennifer Ford Reedy. “As models for problem solving, they consistently pick a path of innovation that drives profound results for their communities.’” 

Read the entire announcement and learn about all seven 2017 Bush Prize winners from the Bush Foundation here. 

 

We are at a critical moment in history.

Wealth disparities across the country are at an all-time high, and in Minnesota growing racial and economic inequalities threaten our econom­ic vitality. The Twin Cities has the third highest employment gap between whites and people of color among the large metropolitan areas.1 In 2015, the overall poverty rate in Minnesota was 10.2%, but it was 16.4% for Asians, 20.8% for Latinos, 32.4% for blacks, and 25.1% for American Indians.2 According to a recent Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) report, it will take the average African American family 228 years to amass the same level of wealth as the average European American family.3

At the same time the trend in disparities threatens our economic vitality, the unprecedented wave of baby boomer retirements could further entrench the wealth gap. Nationally, approximately 50% of privately held businesses are owned by baby boomers, with 85% of owners having no succes­sion plan.4 One-third of business owners over the age of 50 report having difficulty finding some­one to purchase their business.5 This could result in the loss of millions of jobs, billions in tax reve­nue; leading to significant economic instability.

But the ‘silver tsunami’ doesn’t have to be an eco­nomic disaster. The trend could actually provide opportunities to mitigate wealth disparities and root ownership in communities of color. Across the country, the strategy of converting business­es to worker cooperatives is gaining traction as a means to redefine the traditional notion of ownership and build community wealth. In the worker cooperative business model, employees become the new owners; sharing the profits, ac­cumulating wealth, and participating in decision making through a one worker, one vote structure. Worker cooperatives offer a way to promote local and broad-based ownership, provide dignified employment and eliminate racial and economic disparities.

In 2016, Nexus Community Partners and the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) at the University of Minnesota began conducting a landscape analysis to assess the potential impact on our local economy and to identify potential opportunities for conversions to worker coop­eratives. What follows are the results, a case for worker cooperatives and a set of recommenda­tions for how the Twin Cities region can support the growth of the cooperative sector in commu­nities of color.

Click here to continue reading the Impact Brief: Business Conversions to Worker Cooperatives.

Nexus welcomes new staff member Nkuli Shongwe!

We are excited to have Nkuli join the Nexus family! She is the new community wealth building coordinator through the AmeriCorps VISTA program that is sponsored by The Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota. In this role, she will help with the Community Wealth Building work focused on assisting with the Community Wealth Building AmeriCorps VISTA cohort, the Culturally-based Cooperative Development TA cohort, and the East Side Economic Growth Initiative (ESEGI). Please help us welcome Nkuli!

“Art and farming join forces this fall when the Hmong American Farmers Association and a trio of Twin Cities artists add a new staple to the CSA produce box: art.”

Check out how Nexus’ partner, the Hmong American Farmers Association (HAFA), is getting creative this Thanksgiving by adding Hmong arts and culture to their community supported agricultural (CSA) share. Read the full MPR story here.

Listen to HAFA’s executive director and Nexus board member, Pakou Hang, talk about how community wealth building is grounded in cultural practices.

 

A Broader Framework for Economic Development:

Nexus Community Partners Elevates Community Wealth Building in the Twin Cities

Juxtaposition Arts, Broadway,North Mpls

In 2015, Nexus approved a new strategic plan that affirmed our mission of building more engaged and powerful communities of color. As part of the process, we clarified our approach to achieving the mission and identified three core ingredients to ensure just and equitable communities:

  • Authorship: Engaging community

In a strong, equitable and just community, all members are engaged in and have authorship of their lives and their future. Nexus builds infrastructure for stronger community engagement learning and practice.

  • Leadership: Cultivating power

In a strong, equitable and just community, all members are seen as leaders, are given ample opportunities to grow in their leadership, and are able to represent their communities in multiple spaces. Nexus invests in and cultivates leaders of color who are working to advance a broader agenda for equity.

  • Ownership: Building community wealth

In a strong, equitable and just community, all members are afforded ample access points to generate wealth and to own the wealth they have helped to generate. Nexus challenges practitioners, community leaders and investors to use a community wealth-building framework to revitalize our communities.

As part of the focus on ownership, Nexus expanded our individual asset and wealth building work to include a more comprehensive community wealth building framework.

Community wealth building is a place-based, systems approach to community economic development that ensures local and broad-based ownership; develops cooperative and other reinforcing economic enterprises; utilizes culturally-based economic models; invests in assets that are rooted locally; and engages the procurement power of institutional partners. CWB is grounded in the values of equity, culture, mutuality and stewardship. (See our short community wealth building film here)

In 2016, we carried out a number of activities targeted at “Seeding” and elevating the framework, building shared knowledge and developing partnership to carry our community wealth building work forward. Over the summer, Nexus hosted a three part learning series that focused on the role of anchor institutions and worker owned business models in building community wealth, as well as a session on new financial tools being deployed to promote local and broad based ownership.

In the fall, we partnered with Oakland- based Project Equity to conduct an ecosystem mapping exercise with cross sector partners to begin building an infrastructure in the Twin Cities to support the growth of Worker Cooperatives of Color. Our work in the “seeding” phase included developing and presenting an analysis in partnership with the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) around the potential for business conversions to worker ownership. (Read the report, “Worker Ownership A Pathway to Strong Local Economies”)

In 2017, Nexus will focus on cultivating the seeds planted in 2016. Efforts will include launching a Black Cooperative Economics Academy; convening a cohort of stakeholders to build a network of Technical Assistance providers of color; strengthening relationships with key organizations, institutions and community leaders around cooperative models, anchor procurement and financial tools; targeted regranting and finally, partnering with the Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation’s C3 VISTA program to develop a Community Wealth Building Cohort.

Want to learn more? Please contact Elena Gaarder at egaarder@nexuscp.org to learn more.

Traditional community development work focuses on the built environment. Nexus Community Partners believes that community development should also be mindful of the people who live in and interact with

the built environment every day. Nexus also believes that neighborhood- based development activities will only be successful in the long term if they are paired with strong community engagement efforts. To that end, Nexus supports community-based organizations in low-wealth neighborhoods to engage with and to reflect the vision and creativity of the people who live
and work there. Nexus also supports organizations that wish to integrate community engagement into their organizations and into their programming. Read more here; NEXUScase study 8 PAGE WEB[1]

Elena GaarderNexus offers our biggest and proudest congratulations to our very own Elena Gaarder who is a 2015 Bush Fellow! Her incredible hard work that is rooted firmly with people in the communities that she works will only blossom and grow.

“In her community-based work, Elena Gaarder finds herself returning over and over to the same questions: What mix of policies, investments, partners and initiatives truly would shift the balance so that disadvantaged neighborhoods become opportunity-rich communities? And importantly, what can she do differently to be a more effective leader? These questions will drive her Bush Fellowship’s focus on deepening her abilities to build successful alliances and partnerships and on increasing her knowledge of social enterprise and worker cooperative models that have proven to transform the economics of communities across the U.S.”

We are so proud and ecstatic to support her on this amazing new journey! Congratulations, Elena!

Click here to meet all of the 2015 Bush Fellows.

NexusPhoto

“Nexus Community Partners believes that a competitive and inclusive region is one in which members of all racial, ethnic and income groups have opportunities to live and work in all parts of the region; have access to living wage jobs; and equitably benefit from local and regional opportunities.”

Click here to read more (Minnesota Council of Nonprofits Newsletter 2014; page 4).

Metropolitan Council Chair Susan Haigh, in her annual State of the Region address, challenged the Council and all its partners in the Twin Cities metro area to address the significant disparities in school achievement, employment and poverty between the region’s people of color and its white population. read more

Since 2001, Nexus’ partner City of Lakes Community Land Trust (CLCLT) has been fostering stewardship of perpetually affordable home ownership for low- and moderate-income families throughout Minneapolis. Part of this process includes purchasing and rehabilitating tax-forfeited, vacant properties that will remain perpetually affordable through the Community Land Trust.

Check out this video about one of the properties CLCLT purchased, rehabilitated, and is in the process of closing with one Minneapolis family:

http://vimeo.com/80950974

House

Nexus is proud to partner with CLCLT as a Community Land Trust that is invested in and successfully ensuring community asset and wealth building through home ownership in Minneapolis. Keep up the great work CLCLT!

Learn more about land trusts and how to purchase a home through the Community Land Trust here.