The BCLI application is now closed

  • July 21, 2016
  • By: Chai Lee
  • In: General

Thank you for all who considered, applied, and helped suggest or nominate others to apply for our 2016-2017 BCLI cohort. The application is now closed as of July 2, 2016.

We encourage you to attend our Issue Series which begin later this fall.

Please check back at the link below for topics and locations (tbd) for the upcoming Issue Series.

See list of Issue Series dates here:

Until then, if you are interested in applying for a future round of BCLI, please check back next May (2017) when we release the next year’s application (nomination packet). Thank You

Check out the BCLI Power Point!

  • June 27, 2016
  • By: Chai Lee
  • In: General

Please view our Power Point about the BCLI here. A friendly reminder that applications are due Friday, July 1, at Midnight.

BCLI 2016 Info Session PPT

Nexus is now accepting BCLI applications!

We are now targeting seats in Brooklyn Park, Brooklyn Center, Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Ramsey County, Saint Paul, the Metropolitan Council and the State of Minnesota.


Just as soon as the BCLI wrapped up year three cohort with a graduation on April 14, we are already recruiting for the next class! How exciting!

The deadline for submissions is Friday, July 1st by 12 midnight CST


The BCLI fellowship runs from October 2016 – April 2017.

We need to be running our own folks for seats by building power that pursues true democracy…We need to be developing leaders to be bold at those decision-making tables and to never leave their community behind. This is how we tell our own story. This is a story that tells everybody they can belong, and this is how we build our movement.”
Kandace Montgomery, BCLI ‘14

Why Apply?

  • Join a network of racial equity and social justice advocates influencing policy decisions on local and regional commissions.

  • Gain integrated perspectives on key local and regional racial equity and social justice issues: economic development, health equity, affordable housing, transit, and workforce development.

  • Participate in a facilitated learning community of trainers, advocate commissioners and elected officials who share best practices, lessons learned, and key concepts.

  • Learn commission skills like Parliamentary Procedure, media messaging, and municipal budgeting.

Download the application HERE

Come to an upcoming Information Session!
Please RSVP to Chai Lee at and please indicate which information session you plan to attend. Light refreshments will be provided.

  • Wednesday, May 11th, 5:30 pm -7 pm at Rondo Library, 461 N. Dale St, St. Paul, 55104
  • Thursday, May 26th, 9 am -10:30 am at Hope Community Inc., 3rd Floor Loft: 611 E. Franklin Ave, Minneapolis, 55404
  • Wednesday, June 8th, 5:30 pm -7:00 pm at Cookie Cart, 1119 W Broadway Ave, Minneapolis, 55411
  • Thursday, June 16th, 5:30 pm -7:00 pm at Brookdale Library, 6125 Shingle Creek Pkwy, Brooklyn Center, 55430

Questions? Contact us:
Mr. Chai Lee
Program Coordinator

Ms. Terri Thao
Program Director

About the BCLI
Nexus’ Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute (BCLI) is a 7-month leadership program that supports, trains and places people of color and other underrepresented community members on publicly appointed boards and commissions that influence and impact equity in the Twin Cities Metro Area.


About Nexus Community Partners
Nexus Community Partners (Nexus) is a community building intermediary whose mission is to build more engaged and powerful communities of color by supporting community building initiatives that expand community assets and foster social and human capital. Click here to learn more about our work.

Minnesota’s Women in Transportation Seminar (WTS) presented the 2016 Rosa Parks Diversity Leadership Award to the Health Equity & Engagement Cohort, Hennepin County and Nexus Community Partners. The award was for shared work to incorporate health equity and community engagement into the Station Area Plans for the METRO Blue Line Extension which will run from Brooklyn Park to the City of Minneapolis.


The Health Equity & Engagement Cohort members included: ACER Inc, African American Leadership Forum (AALF), CAPI USA, CLUES, Harrison Neighborhood Association, Heritage Park Neighborhood Association, Lao Assistance Center, Masjid An-Nur, MN African Women’s Association, Northside Resdients Redevelopment Council, La Asamblea de Derechos Civiles, Redeemer Center for Life, Northwest Hennepin Human Services Council, and with technical support from the Alliance for Metropolitan Stability and MN Center for Neighborhood Organizing.

Some project highlights include:

  • Health Equity & Engagement Cohort informed over 1,600 hundred people, gathered input from over 900 people and supported community leaders participate in local station area planning. Over 80% of the participants were people of color.
  • Station Area Plans that explicitly speak to Health Equity, recommendations linked to community engagement results, and recommendations to utilize a Racial Equity Toolkit and other equitable development tools to inform decision-making and project development to improve community health outcomes
  • Over 200 public employees from various departments within Hennepin County and Cities along the METRO Blue Line Extension (Bottineau LRT) were provided training by the Governance Alliance for Racial Equity (GARE).       The training introduced participants to the concepts of Structural Racism, Institutional Racism, Individual Racism and a Racial Equity Tool to inform government decision-making.

Congratulations to everyone involved!


On Thursday, April 14, the Twin Cities Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute (BCLI) graduated 15 fellows in our third cohort. We lucked out with beautiful weather and a beautiful location in Norway House on Franklin Avenue in South Minneapolis. About 60 people attended, some of which included family, friends, nominators and funders.

This year’s fellows selected BCLI trainer Pakou Hang, executive director of the Hmong American Farmers Association to deliver the keynote address. Pakou reminded the fellows in her comments to reach inside for their strength and moral compass to always fight for justice. She also encouraged them to have the determination of a rock which can bend the direction of a stream. Her speech was followed by equally powerful personal reflections of four of the fellows: Tiphanie “PH” Copeland, Jeanette Jones, Luis Rangel, and Harrison Bullard, all of whom were nominated by their peers to speak. On a final program note, we are proud to share that four of the 15 fellows are currently serving on a board or commission and our goal is to get the majority of folks placed within a year of graduation.

We are grateful to all that made the graduation possible and to everyone who has been a part of the program the past year. And as this year ends we already look forward to the next year’s cohort!

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We are excited to announce!

  • April 11, 2016
  • By: Lynette LaFontaine
  • In: General

The Community Engagement Team (CET), a partnership between Nexus Community Partners, the Alliance for Metropolitan Stability, and the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, recently awarded $229,000 in contracts to 11 community organizations to engage their communities around transit equity issues and inform Metro Transit’s Better Bus Stops Program (BBS) (

As part of the Metropolitan Council’s commitment to advancing equity in the region, the BBS program invests in bus stop improvements that enhance access to employment and educational opportunities. The program improves bus stops located in neighborhoods with areas of concentrated poverty where the majority of residents are people of color.

The 11 community organizations are Corcoran Neighborhood Organization, Dayton’s Bluff Community Council, Harrison Neighborhood Association, Hope Community, Jordan Area Community Council, Minneapolis Highrise Representative Council, Nokomis East Neighborhood Association, Smart Trips, West Bank Community Coalition, West Broadway Business and Area Coalitions, and West Side Community Organization.

Please help us welcome Rebeka Ndosi!

  • December 15, 2015
  • By: Lynette LaFontaine
  • In: General

Nexus is excited to welcome Rebeka Ndosi, our new Program Director leading the Building the Field of Community Engagement Institute! Rebeka comes to us from Twin Cities Public Television having recently completed TPT’s Believe in Black Youth campaign. She is a graduate of Swarthmore College and Northwestern Health Sciences University and holds a master’s degree in Chinese Medicine.

On Thursday, November 12, 2015, the BCLI 2015 Cohort kicked off with their very first Issue Series. At the helms were the wonderful Diane Tran and Kristell Caballero Saucedo, both of LOCUS (of MN Rising). The topic of this first Issue Series was Intersectionality, or the critical theory of institutional oppression of individuals across all demarcations of their identities (gender, race, sex, class, etc.). The facilitators did a great job directing small group discussions after the “Who are you?” ice breaker. Ground rules were set for community expectations, and everyone seemed to enjoy engaging in the types of conversations they would not otherwise have at home or work, thanks to the safe space of this evening’s BCLI issue series. Thanks to Diane and Kristell for their leadership and insights. Below you will find some resources that the trainers shared at the Issue Series as well as some pictures.


Kyriarchy 101


Kyryiarchy Diagram


Key & Peele code switch sketch




LOCUS Facebook



IMG_3956BCLI 2015-2016 Launch


The Twin Cities’ Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute (BCLI) had a very successful launch of its third cohort for the 2015-2016 year. Over 60 attendees packed the house at Heritage Park Health and Wellness Center in North Minneapolis on Thursday, October 8, 2015 to welcome the incoming 15 cohort members to the BCLI and broader community.

The theme of the launch centered around the African proverb of “many people in many small places undertaking many modest actions can transform the world.” BCLI staff and the program speakers acknowledged the local efforts that these fellows were engaged in and how their actions on local boards and commissions can “transform the world.” Local spoken word artists and community activists Tish Jones and Tou Saiko Lee performed and participated on a panel moderated by Adriana Rimpel, another local artist. The panel covered issues ranging from the arts as an effective tool that brings people together, the increasing role of social media in the arts, and broader commentary about the current state of the national racial and social justice movement.

The BCLI also received a special recognition on behalf of Minnesota U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar in the form of a letter read by Senator Klobuchar’s Outreach Director Garrison McMurtrey. Senator Klobuchar commended the program’s purpose of helping “fellows dedicated to improving their communities and promoting equity in local government.”



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]