6/22 Open Road Fund Information Session


We’ll be kicking off Black History Month with another Black Study Session on Wednesday, February 1st, from 5-7pm on zoom. Registration link will be live soon!

Join us to learn about Black cooperatives, to meet other community members, and to learn more about community wealth building efforts, including the Black Community Trust Fund. These sessions are Black-centered, but all community members are welcome to come connect and learn. From housing collectives and social clubs to freedom farms and mutual aid, Black social, cultural, and economic solidarity IS Black History. Cooperation and collectivism live on as we fight for our liberation, and center our healing and joy.

Did you miss our first North Star Information Session this morning? Thankfully we recorded it! Watch it below to learn about the 2021 North Star Black Cooperative Fellowship and our focus on Housing Coops and Land Trusts, and Investment Cooperatives.

You can apply here by filling out the application, or you can submit a video response with your answers to the application questions.


When this North Star cohort started in October, it was our first virtual cohort, our first cohort organized around collective land ownership, and our first cohort where entire cooperatives participated together. In anticipation of North Star graduation this Wednesday, we will be revisiting some of the North Star sessions, what they learned, and sharing some resources. 

Cooperatives provide a different model of ownership and wealth sharing, and in the process, we are asked to invest deeply in one another, identify and communicate our needs, and skillfully navigate conflict. At Nexus, we realize that we are all connected – what affects one person or community, affects another – and this kind of approach to decisions and conflict is one part of learning how to honor our responsibility for each other. In April, Autumn Brown joined our North Star to discuss democratic decision making and conflict resolution. 

A co-owner at AORTA, Autumn taught us about different models of democratic decision making and strategies for working through conflict. Autumn emphasized the importance of breaking down HOW decisions are made, identifying who has the final say, and thinking about if you like how it is. These considerations are key for any group of people starting a cooperative. 

A key piece of democratic decision making is navigating conflict—a natural and healthy part of people working and/or living together. Autumn talked about how to prepare and plan for conflict before it even happens, making it easier for conflict to be handled well, and be generative and healthy for the group. For example, self-evaluations of conflict styles, helping cooperative members understand how they feel about conflict, and how they like to address it, help cooperatives determine their approach to conflict before it starts. 

Conflict resolution skills are foundational in cooperatives, and in our lives, communities, and movements as well. Dealing with conflict in grounded and centered ways can be difficult, but is essential. As we fight for better futures for all of us, we must simultaneously consider how we govern ourselves—how we want to be together, how to make decisions together, how we want to deal with hurt and harm, and what accountability means to us.

Do you want to learn more about North Star? Mark your calendars for graduation this Wednesday (5/26)! Learn about our incredible fellows, and hear some of our keynote speaker Noni Session’s wisdom (East Bay Permanent Real Estate Cooperative). Click here to RSVP.

When this North Star cohort started in October, it was our first virtual cohort, our first cohort organized around collective land ownership, and our first cohort where entire cooperatives participated together. In anticipation of North Star graduation this Wednesday, we will be revisiting some of the North Star sessions, what they learned, and sharing some resources. 

Second in our series is our session on cooperative governance. Governance describes the shared agreements that shape how your cooperative actually works, like determining how people become members, how members share profits, who can be on the coop’s board, or how the cooperative communicates. At Nexus, we believe that when we make decisions that affect our lives, we share the power in making those decisions, and co-op governance is a big part of that.

Signe Harriday started our session off by sharing her journey with cooperatives, and how she became one of the co-founders and co-owners of Rootsprings. Rootsprings is a land-based Cooperative in greater MN stewarding space for healing and development of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) artists, activists, healers, and community centering Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Queer (LGBTQ) folx. 

Rootsprings has two legal structures, a non-profit and a cooperative. This dual structure allows them to leverage tax-deductible dollars to support their start up costs while they build out a self-sustaining cooperative businesses model. Fellows really vibed with Rootsprings, the creativity of their structure, and the need for BIPOC and LGBTQ centered healing spaces where folks can connect with nature.

Renee Hatcher, a community lawyer based in Chicago, spoke about her experience leaning into Black cooperative history, and how she tries to bring that into the cooperative law field. As a cooperative lawyer, Renee helps worker-owners understand cooperative legal structures, and many different ways of governing are possible within them. Cooperatives are a space that allows us to decolonize how we govern by relying on our own indigenous democratic practices. 

Do you want to learn more about North Star? Mark your calendars for graduation this Wednesday (5/26)! Learn about our incredible fellows, and hear some of our keynote speaker Noni Session’s wisdom (East Bay Permanent Real Estate Cooperative). Click here to RSVP.

Cooperatives are a key part of transitioning to a just economy, and cooperative finance is a crucial piece of the process. But, with banks’ and lenders’ histories of racism in lending to Black and Brown communities, applying for loans can be daunting. The North Star Black Cooperative Fellowship exists to help Black-led cooperatives navigate these processes in community and with support. 

Last month, the North Stars dove into finance with our partners at Shared Capital, Jessica and Samantha, Social Impact Strategies, Elaine Rasmussen, E Coco Consulting and Nexus’ own Christina Nicholson, the Worker Owner Initiative Program Manager. Our speakers and teachers were thoughtful, supportive, realistic as they shared their expertise and answered fellows’ questions. 

Shared Capital is a CDFI (community development financial institution) that finances cooperatives across the nation. Jessica and Samantha walked the fellows through the loan application process, the different types of investments they can make in cooperatives, and the ways the cooperative principles guide Shared Capital’s work. 

Afterwards, our partners had a panel discussion about their experiences with cooperative finance, including different opportunities and obstacles Black-led cooperatives can face when raising capital. Elaine talked about how to get connected to and build relationships with investors. Coco talked about opportunities to raise money to support cooperatives in an unexpected place—philanthropy. She gave fellows insights into how to navigate spaces with funders and find opportunities for funding that might not be obvious. 

Fellows and speakers supported each other in this conversation about financing. Together, they unpacked how banks, lenders, and foundations have extracted wealth from Black communities while also denying them support—this historical and present discrimination can make financing an exhausting process. It was powerful for fellows and speakers to talk about these barriers together and find support in their shared experiences. Black people have built cooperatives throughout history to support each other and thrive, and there is a tight community of folks ready to dig in and help other cooperators out.

Do you want to learn more about North Star? Mark your calendars for graduation next Wednesday! Learn about our incredible fellows, and hear some of our keynote speaker Noni Session’s wisdom (East Bay Permanent Real Estate Cooperative). Click here to RSVP. 

Watch the Issue Series here!


Now that the 2020 Census is over, how can community build power and get involved in state redistricting efforts?

About this Event

Event Summary

After high levels of Census participation, redistricting is the next step that will determine how boundaries are drawn and power and resources are allocated. Learn about the process for how the upcoming redistricting will impact our lives. What are organizers and advocates doing? How can you get involved? How do we integrate democracy and racial equity?


  • 6-8 PM Program

Goals for the Evening

  • Learn what redistricting is and its power and influence; especially from the last Census
  • Hear from local advocates about the engagement work to ensure diverse voices are part of the redistricting process
  • Learn about ways you can participate


  • Annastacia Belladonna-Carrera, Executive Director, Common Cause MN
  • Tom Freeman, Directory & Attorney, Faegre Drinker
  • Xiong Pao “XP” Lee, Program Manager for Policy and Special Projects, MN Council on Foundations

Watch the Issue Series Here!



“Freedom is not a secret. It is a practice” – Alexis Pauline Gumbs

As we think about this practice of democracy, how have Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities done the work of co-governing at different government levels? Where are examples and values from our communities we can bring to disrupt cycles and operationalize racial equity? Come hear from current leaders about their experience at state and local levels and from a leading governance organization, the Native Governance Center about how they have done this work. What can BIPOC communities do to affect policies where you live? Please join us to explore the many ways we all can make an impact!

RSVP Today!

Goals for the Evening

• Listen to learnings from how Native Nations have practiced governance models and trained leaders in this work
• Hear from current BIPOC leaders about representing communities and creating policy to address racial disparities
• Build community

Agenda 6 – 8 PM

Welcome & Virtual Agreement
Ice Breaker – Zoom poll


Ana Vergara, Vice Chair, MN Council of Latino Affairs & BCLI Alumni cohort 7, 2019-2020
Adrian Perryman, Member of the St. Paul Planning Commission
Wayne Ducheneaux, Executive Director, Native Governance Center

Are you or your organization seeking resources to move toward deeper community engagement practices? 

Join us for the next Tapping the Potential of Community Engagement series:
A 4-Part Introduction to the Field of Community Engagement

Dates: October 23, 2020, October 30, 2020, November 13, 2020, November 20, 2020

Time: 9:00 am – 12 Noon

Where: Zoom (link will be shared day before each session)Image of group discussion from Engaged Learning Series

Description: This workshop series is designed to deepen your knowledge, broaden your perspective, and sharpen your skills as you explore the potential for community engagement to create equitable, healthy, and sustainable communities. The sessions are for anyone who is interested in learning more about community engagement, or for those who wish to deepen their work with community.

Session Topics:

  • Pre-Work Option: Cultural Exploration through the IDI
  • Session 1: What is Community Engagement?
  • Session 2: Shifting Power: Moving from Service to Engagement
  • Session 3: Healing through Community Engagement
  • Session 4: Moving Forward: Integrating Community Engagement Practices and Shifting Work Culture

Learning Goals:

  • Understand the principles and values of community engagement and how it differs from other practices, such as outreach and the traditional social service model.
  • Learn how community engagement can make your work more effective.
  • Utilize community engagement tools for building relationships, leadership, and ownership.
  • Explore how community engagement leads to equity and how understanding equity is essential for effective community engagement.
  • Assess your organization’s readiness and capacity to incorporate community engagement as an approach in your work.

*PRE-WORK OPTION: Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) Cultural Exploration: Culture, healing and relationships are central to authentic and sustainable community engagement. Thus, we are offering the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) as an optional pre-work add-on for participants who are interested in more deeply exploring culture and identity, challenges and opportunities connecting across difference and commonality, and how to navigate those differences in community engagement work. Your confirmation email upon registration will have more information and next steps for opting into the IDI pre-work component, which will take place in October 2020 prior to the beginning of the workshop series.*

Fee: Scholarships are available to ensure anyone can participate, no one will be turned away. Contact for details.

  • Philanthropy/Corporate Rate: $850 for all four sessions
  • Nonprofit/Government Rate: $450 for all four sessions
  • *Additional IDI Pre-Work Option: additional $250 per person for IDI group session and individual feedback session in October 2020 – registration is separate and will come with your confirmation email from one of the above selections*

NOTEAttendance at all four sessions is required, as this is a cohort experience and each session builds upon previous sessions.

Contact with questions or for more information about scholarships.


Click here to register and for series details!



The full report to the CLLI Team at Nexus Community Partners is now available online. This report shares findings of a pre-initiative survey completed in February 2020. Findings reveal how CLLI learning community participants define and think about community leadership values, processes, strategies, and practices. Survey responses reported here were collected before the initiative’s first session, or Phase 1. The survey will be administered again after the initiative’s final session to see if responses have changed.

During the Community Leadership Learning July 9th webinar, Nora Hall, Ph.D, and Karen Gray (GrayHall LLP) highlighted results. This snapshot provides a starting point for understanding leadership with and in communities. The CLLI Learning Community meets monthly to explore collective leadership and the many ways communities’ cultural practices impact our authorship over our lives and futures. We want to co-create a shared narrative about what constitutes healthy and vibrant community leadership.

The Leadership Survey Report shares learning community participants’ insight about nuances in community leadership and engagement, including:

  • Preferred Community Leadership Approaches
  • Leadership and Community Engagement
  • Leadership in Communities Facing Systemic Inequities
  • Community Leadership and Social Determinants of Health
  • Additional Community Leadership Comments

Read the executive summary or full report.

Interested in participating in our learning community webinars? Click here to see our learning calendar and resources.

Survey findings from the Community Leadership Learning Initiative


The Community Leadership Learning Initiative (CLLI) goal is to deepen our collective understanding of community-driven leadership. We want to raise the visibility of community leadership to philanthropy and the broader ecosystem of leadership and community development.

CLLI welcomes people from across the country to share in regular virtual learning opportunities. Together, our learning community explores topics such as:

  • What does collective leadership look like when operating from a cultural context?
  • How does a community’s cultural practices impact their authorship of their lives and future?
  • What are the conditions and supports that allow natural community systems to flourish and evolve?

With our evaluation partners, CLLI is working to refine key findings about what constitutes healthy and vibrant community leadership. Join our next CLLI webinar to hear more about survey findings from the Community Leadership Learning Initiative. We are excited to share what we are learning. Session information and registration link for the webinar are below.

Event: Leadership WITH/IN Community

  • Thursday July 9th
  • 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. EST/ 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. CST
  • Sign up now!

This session gives participants opportunities to examine nuances in community leadership and engagement. Learn how community leaders define and think about community leadership values, processes, strategies, and practices based on a survey conducted in February 2020. Nora Hall, Ph.D., and Karen Gray (GrayHall LLP) will share this snapshot of how Community Leadership Learners perceived community leadership work. We will discuss preferred community leadership approaches, leadership in communities facing systemic inequities, and leadership and community engagement.


We invite you to learn alongside grassroots community leaders, funders, leadership practioners and intermediary organizations as we explore the many ways we practice community leadership. Learning opportunities include virtual gatherings and in-person site visits.

In case you missed the Community Leadership Learning Initiative launch session last week, you can listen to the meeting recording here.

We welcome everyone interested in community leadership to register for our upcoming virtual gatherings:

Framing Leadership: Community Ownership & Authorship

  • Apr 20, 2020 01:00 – 2:30 PM Central Time (US and Canada)
  • Register for the April 20th meeting here.

Making Change: Discovering & Disrupting the Story of Us

  • Jun 3, 2020 09:30 AM Central Time (US and Canada)
  • Register for the June 3rd meeting here.

In addition to these virtual gatherings, we offer intentionally small-group settings for in-person, onsite learning co-hosted by community storytelling partners. Learners must apply and seats are limited. Early application is encouraged.

May 6, Boston MA—Unique Perspectives & Shared Power: Leadership as Solidarity

  • Integrating convivir to re-establish intergenerational and cross-cultural responsibility
  • Intentional code-switching to break silos and share power
  • Enhance skills for telling and interpreting messages across context/culture

June 24-25, Washington DC—Identity & Intersectionality: Leadership & Belonging*

  • Claiming LGBTQ identity and stories of belonging in multiple communities
  • Core practices of healing internalized oppression and resilience
  • Creating intentional community spaces to disrupt traumatic response behaviors

July 29, Buffalo NY—Recentering Culture: Celebrating & Shifting Norms

  • Combatting stereotypes that assume healthy, sustainable food is for affluent, white consumers
  • Highlighting core relationships between food, culture, environment and economy
  • Creating collective systems that reflect community values, history and experiences

Sept 24-25, Baton Rouge LA—Inverting Power Structures: Leadership as Movement

  • Creating fluid processes to collectively activate wisdom from those most impacted
  • Defying false boundaries between public and private, formal and informal
  • Leaning into a new leadership paradigm


And don’t forget to save the date for our final Storyshare Convening, November 11-13th!


Nexus Community Partners supports strong, equitable and just communities in which all residents are engaged, are recognized as leaders and have pathways to opportunities. With support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, we created the Community Leadership Learning Initiative to deepen our collective understanding of community-driven leadership, while raising the visibility and demonstrating the value of this powerful work to the field of philanthropy and the broader ecosystem of leadership and community development.

We will convene three virtual gatherings for stakeholders across the country who are interested in exploring community leadership practices. We also offer opportunities, co-hosted by grassroots community partners, to experience community leadership in context.

Through this learning journey, we hope to identify and co-create:

  • Shared narratives and a framework for supporting community-driven leadership, offering people in different sectors and cultural communities new ways to talk about community leadership
  • Tools to help people think and act differently in support of community-driven leadership
  • Opportunities for resources to flow to communities more effectively
  • Shifts in systems so that institutions are internally organized and operating with community leadership at the center
  • Shifts in practice so that people own their roles and act with agency to effect change as part of the community


As a Leadership for Better Health initiative funded by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, we will be hosting a virtual convening for funders to better understand our relationship and role in supporting community leadership. (Funders only, please.)

Community Leadership Learning Initiative – Funder Convening

Mar 26, 2020 01:30 – 3:00 PM Central Time

Register for this funder convening here.