Open Road 2023 Update: Phase 2


Dear community,

We have officially entered the next phase of the Open Road Fund 2023. We have informed all 11,000 of our applicants of their decisions. Our team felt excitement and hope as we reached out to the 100 finalists who were randomly selected to receive $50,000 to invest in their Black wealth plans. We were also filled with sadness turning so many people down. All Black folks’ dreams for their abundant futures are worthy and deserving of resources.

From the beginning, we have been clear that this is not reparations. While this $50 million is an important step towards cultivating black wealth, it is not close to enough to repair all the harm done to the Black community over the last 400 years. When we do get reparations, it should be for all descendants of enslaved African people, not just 800 folks from Minnesota and the Dakotas.

purple background with Minnesota, north and South Dakota. Various hands of different shades of brown holding flowers. yellow text reads: open road fund. Forging paths toward liberation on roads paved by our ancestors. Launching June 19, 2023.

How were finalists selected?

We used a random selection process to choose finalists because of our inherent belief that all the eligible Open Road Fund applicant’s’ dreams and plans for creating and sustaining Black wealth deserved an opportunity to be chosen. For example, Oone family’s plan to buy a home does not have more or less merit than another person’s plan to invest in a business or to pursue higher education.

We worked with software developers to design a randomization tool built for our grantmaking process. Using this tool, we randomly selected finalists—50% of finalists are from the Twin Cities metro area and 50% are from Greater Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Will finalists be publicly announced?

For those of you who were not chosen this year, we understand the grief and the skepticism you may be feeling right now. With only 100 people selected across 3 states, some of us may not yet know anyone who was selected. Out of respect and concern for finalists’ privacy, Nexus will not make finalists names public, although finalists are free to share if they wish.

What’s next?

Phase 2 of the Open Road Fund includes finalists submitting their Black wealth plans, and once approved, disbursement of funds. After finalists receive their awards, we plan to consensually share grantee stories and evaluate grantee experiences in partnership with Research in Action, a Black-led research and evaluation firm.

The Open Road Fund will be distributing funds for the next 7 years. We hope you will continue to follow the Open Road Fund and Nexus Community Partners—across our organization, we work to nurture the prosperity of our communities, including our health, joy, peace, love, safety, and the needs of future generations. We will continue to share Black wealth building opportunities hosted by Nexus and our partners.

In Solidarity,

The Open Road Fund Team

If you have not heard back about your Open Road Fund application, please email us at If you have questions, please reference our FAQ page.

Are you passionate about Black economic justice? Are you involved in a Black-led collective, cooperative, or land trust? Apply to the North Star Black Cooperative Fellowship! Together, we will learn and reclaim the history of Black cooperation over 7 months through intentional practice, storytelling, and skill-building. Learn more here and apply below.

2023-2024 North Star Black Cooperative Fellowship Application

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On Juneteenth, applications for the fund will be available to Black residents in North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota

ST. PAUL, Minn. June 5, 2023 / PRNewswire / Nexus Community Partners, a leading organization creating pathways to equity for communities of color in the Twin Cities and beyond, announced the $50 million Open Road Fund, a wealth-building community resource for descendants of the Atlantic Slave Trade living in Minnesota and the Dakotas. Resourced by the Bush Foundation, eligible Black residents will have access to apply for the fund starting June 19th, also known as Juneteenth.

This $50 million resource is seen as one way to help the Black community cultivate wealth and prosperity.

Though not labeled as reparations because the Fund’s resources cannot correct all of the harm done to Black people over the last 400 years, this $50 million resource is seen as one way to help the Black community cultivate wealth and prosperity.

Through this $50 million Open Road Fund, Nexus has a chance to provide a return on the investment Black folks have long made to this country and create Black wealth. To us, Black wealth-building is about creating spaces and opportunities that help all Black people to thrive,” said Repa Mekha, president and CEO of Nexus Community Partners. “When we have access to an abundance of resources, we can cultivate healing, safety, care and liberation on our own terms.”

There are no income caps or minimums and Black people, age 14 and up, especially formerly incarcerated people, single parents, senior citizens, those living with disabilities, LGBTQ+ are encouraged to apply.

Over the next eight years, the Fund will award $50,000 grants to at least 800 eligible applicants to be used for several wealth-building projects, including housing, education, financial well-being, healing and economic justice. Applicants will need to identify the area of focus that best suits their path to building Black wealth and will be judged by a diverse panel of community leaders across the Dakotas and Minnesota. Applicants can apply for the grants individually, but groups are encouraged to apply in hopes of building long-term Black wealth and increasing their community impact.

The opening of the application process will be celebrated with an invite-only Juneteenth event for those connected with Nexus, the creation of the Open Road Fund, community leaders and media.

Those eligible to apply should visit The Open Road Fund. The Open Road application closes July 28th.

About Nexus Community Partners

In who we are and through what we do, Nexus Community Partners builds engaged and powerful communities so that each and every person can flourish in a joyful and abundant life. We hold central that, for this to be possible, we must usher out the rigged rules, attitudes, and practices that concentrate wealth and power in ever fewer and ever whiter hands, and usher in ways of living, working, and making decisions together that nourish communities for this generation and generations to come.

Media Contact

Danielle Mkali

Repa Mekha, President & CEO of Nexus Community Partners, sat down with Chanda Smith Baker, Chief Impact Officer and Senior Vice President of The Minneapolis Foundation, to share his journey and work in a powerful conversation. Their discussion recently aired again on KMOJ 89.9 FM.

If you missed it, you can listen to it now here!

This request for proposal (RFP) is to contract for legal retainership in which an attorney will act as legal counsel and advisor to Nexus Community Partners. Read the full RFP here. Proposals must be submitted no later than 5:00pm (CST) on Wednesday, March 31st.

Nexus Community Partners is a 501c3 non-profit whose mission is to build more engaged and powerful communities of color. Through our work, we work to create a world where each and every person can flourish in a joyful and abundant life. For this to be possible, we must usher out the rigged rules, attitudes, and practices that concentrate wealth and power in fewer and whiter hands, and usher in ways of living, working, and making decisions together that nourish communities for this generation and generations to come.


Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q: Are joint proposals acceptable?
    • A: Yes, Nexus will accept and review joint proposals. If a joint proposal is selected, Nexus may wish to go into contract with only one entity.


  • Q: Will you accept proposals from attorneys/firms that cannot start by May 1, 2023?
    • A: Yes, Nexus will accept and review proposals from attorneys and firms with start dates later than May 1st, The start date will be considered during the evaluation of proposals.


  • Q: Will proposals from firms located outside of Minnesota be accepted?
    • A: Yes, Nexus will accept and review proposals from attorneys and firms located outside of Minnesota. Should Nexus need counsel licensed in the state of MN, Nexus would expect the selected attorney or firm to identify the appropriate local and licensed representation.


  • Q: What is the current organizational budget? Specifically, are you able to share the budget that has been set aside for the legal retainership? 
    • A: Our 2023 budget is $12, 640,052 with over $6 million of that being regranted to local organizations and individual community members. Proposals in the range of $45,000 to $60,000 are preferred, although there may be some flexibility if the scope expands, or additional services are needed.


  • Q: Understanding that this RFP is for a 4-year contract, our firm rates increase annually. Is it acceptable that our “price” section reflects the rate change? 
    • A: Yes. Submitted proposals should reflect your price structures.


  • Q: Are we able to suggest additional legal services that may not be called out in the RFP, but based on our experience working with similar organizations, will ensure overall organizational effectiveness and protection? 
    • A: Yes. If you have recommendations on additional legal services, please include them in the proposal.




Introducing our newest cohort from the Neighborhood Leadership Program! These thoughtful folks will walk alongside one another for 7 months in deep self-reflection. They will build self-awareness, practice working across difference, and engage in values-based action. Read their bios here!

Check out these incredible cooperators! These fellows are brilliant and imaginative and kind. You don’t want to miss them. You can get a preview below, and read all about them here.

House of Culture

Jayanthi RaJaSa, Yonci Peaceful Jameson, Kenna-Camara Cottman

House of Culture is a cooperative manifestation based in the oral tradition and griot skills that form the foundation of Voice of Culture.

A Farm Called Home

Cal Adeboye, Lane Brown, Mari Fitch, Izzy Vielman, Mo Hanson, Jai Jami, Sun Kai

A Farm Called Home invests in Black and Indigenous future farmers by providing access to land-ownership and housing stabilization through cooperative development, education and environmental stewardship.


Olivia Nichols, Sophia Nichols, Syreeta Sevé

The mission of Lupine is to restore relationship with the land, animal, human, and plant kin in our home of Mni Sota Makoce.

The Black Prosperity Cooperative

Alicia Clerk, Chakita Lewis

Our mission is to develop a sisterhood based on mutual respect, collaboration, inclusion, and shared economic opportunity.

Cultural Crops Cooperative

Mujahid Layton, Tenille Foreman

We seek to provide sanctuary to those seeking freedom from oppressive systems by modeling our ancestral agrarian & natural lifestyles on 20 acres of land in Georgia.

Boston Black Market and Enrichment Center

Jihan Thomas

We strive to be a place where Black people can gather to ideate, share the joy of the day, and just be.

Please join us in giving our new team member, Leanna Browne, a warm welcome! Leanna is a dancer, a teaching artist, a choreographer, and a connector in community. At Nexus, she’s a program associate working on the North Star Black Cooperative Fellowship. Right now, Leanna’s filling her cup through sharing space with folks and being in community.

“I’ve been thinking about how it is very easy to be isolated right now. I am thinking about how community is being cultivated. Where can people gather and be their full selves? Being a part of North Star—a Black-led and centered space—where folks are able to gather around cooperation, Black liberation, and community wealth has been really special.”

Outside of work, Leanna has been getting energy from dance. For Leanna, “dance is a way to not only be connected to your body but also to connect to others. Reconnecting with yourself and with community is powerful! I want to cultivate spaces for folks to experience that.” If you want to dance with Leanna, she has a free Umfundalai (muh-foon-duh-luh) class coming up! Learn more here.

Apply today for Neighborhood Leadership Program 2022-23! Nexus Community Engagement Institute (NCEI) is excited to announce the 2nd year of Neighborhood Leadership Program (NLP) in Nexus soil.

NLP is a 7-month cohort experience for individuals to gather and organize stories—our personal and our shared knowledge. Our goal is to collectively clarify the narrative we want to shape the world. Narratives like these have the power to transform our future, our mindsets, relationships, power dynamics, policies, and flow of resources. The stories we tell about ourselves are everything.

Our program is open to applicants who are both early and seasoned in their leadership journey. At NLP, we are more interested in learning about your passions and commitment to shape change in community than in popularity, degrees or accolades. Everyone has something to learn and to share. Reach out to with any questions.

Last week, we wrapped up the 2021-2022 Pilot Neighborhood Leadership Program year!!! This was the first year NLP was housed on Nexus soil. Congratulations to the newest NLP Grads!

NLP celebrated by gathering in person for the first time, eating delicious food from Demera’s Ethiopian Restaurant, and sharing lots of hugs and laughter! Folks from the NLP community, including the cohort selection committee and Nexus Community Engagement Institute staff, joined to celebrate the fellows.

Sydney Lattimer, also known as Divine Words, offered us a beautiful Radical Acts of Remembrance ceremony, where we honored our ancestors and remembered our way forward. Though we know we are now in each other’s ecosystems forever, we will miss regularly seeing the beautiful faces of this year’s cohort!

Are you interested in joining our next cohort? The NLP team is already busy preparing for the upcoming year—visit us here or reach out to us at for more information. Applications will open this summer! Stay tuned.

Nexus Worker Ownership Initiative is excited to be featured in a new report from the Brookings Institute. Read the Saint Paul Case Study here.

“Institutionalizing inclusive growth: Rewiring systems to rebuild local economies,” is a playbook of innovative economic development strategies. Through in-depth case studies, it profiles the wide variety of local public, private, and civic institutions stewarding their communities through the four pillars that drive inclusive growth: economic development, talent development, spatial development, and asset development.


This year makes it 17 years I have been lucky enough to work for Nexus. And like 17-year-olds on the cusp of adulthood, it is with great sadness that I am announcing my departure from Nexus at the end of this year, on December 31, 2021.

When I started at Nexus, I didn’t realize what an adventure this would be to engage community and build wealth with amazing colleagues and community members who are helping to build a better world for all of us.

For the past 17 years I have been fortunate enough to be apart of this work through the East Side Housing Initiative, Center for Working Families, and even the Beehive technology project. Interwoven throughout was being able to fund amazing BIPOC-led organizations and organizations engaging and working with BIPOC communities in places like North and South Minneapolis, and my East Side of St. Paul.

And for the last ten years, I have been so honored to have adapted and run the Twin Cities Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute (BCLI). I cannot believe that we are in our 9th cohort. I am so proud of what we have done with the BCLI. I truly believe that we are contributing to the movement and helping set up our communities for long term success. I leave the Twin Cities BCLI to my super amazing partner in crime, Chai Lee.

Over the course of my 17 years at Nexus, I have been honored to get to know and work alongside some of amazing community leaders— like Lupe Serrano, Elder Atum Azzahir, Ricardo Levins Morales, and Paul Fate—all who have provided much wisdom and amazing models of leadership.

And to all the other amazing folks I’ve met—I have enjoyed building connections with you all in community and across different sectors (even over Zoom!). Not only is it about the work, but I love hearing stories about your families, your communities, and what drives you to do this work. And of course, I want to send love to my awesome Nexus colleagues who have made the 17 years so enjoyable. From the bottom of my heart, this Hmong girl says ua tsaug/thank you!

As for my next adventure, I won’t be too far away. Starting in mid-January 2022, I will be a Program Director at the Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies leading their Local Initiatives and Opportunities program. I am excited and will certainly be bringing all that I have learned to this new position. I know our paths will cross again and look forward to connecting with you all to create a powerful future together.