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


Doing Business Differently on the East Side

  • Story By: Lynette LaFontaine

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: Lynette LaFontaine

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: Lynette LaFontaine

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.