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Virtual Info Sessions

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The Open Road Fund 2024 opens this Juneteenth (6/19)! Join us at an upcoming information sessions to learn more and get ready to apply!

Click here to Register

Wednesday, June 26th, 12pm-1:30pm

During these sessions we will:

  • Introduce the Open Road Fund and the Open Road team.
  • Show participants how to apply, including a live walkthrough of the application.
  • Explain how the Open Road Fund selects grantees, and answer any questions you may have.
  • Discuss what wealth building grant awards can be used for.

Watch the June 5th Info session recording here or below.

These info sessions are free and open to the community. Each session will take place on Zoom and will be recorded. 

 

Open Road Fund Community Partner’s Interest Form

Open Road Fund Community Partner’s Interest Form

Open Road Fund Community Partner's Interest Form 

The Open Road Fund launched in 2023 and is stewarded by Nexus Community Partners. The Fund has granted 99 awards in the amount of $50,000 to Black residents across Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. This year, we are prepared to award 101 grants in this region. The Open Road Fund plans to award grants annually, over the next 8 years, totaling 8 rounds of grant-making. To learn more, here is a link to our mini-report: https://nexuscp.org/orf_1_mini-report/. The goal of the Open Road Fund’s community engagement work is to actively partner and work alongside our communities on the fund to create opportunities and inform.




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After a successful start of the Open Road Fund in 2023, the fund will re-open for applications Juneteenth 2024 (June 19th). We learned a lot in our first year. After engaging with applicants, awardees, our community, and our community advisory committee, we have made the following changes to our application process. 

 

ID Requirement

This year you will need to include a photo of your ID to apply.  We understand that this will present a barrier to some eligible applicants, and we did not make this decision lightly. We want to ensure that all recipients are a part of and connected to our community–and we want to discourage fake applications from hackers and bots.

The Open Road Fund is specifically for Black people descended from African people who survived the Transatlantic Slave Trade, who also currently live in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota.  Requiring IDs is one way we are making sure we are reaching this community. 

We will accept a variety of ID types. Types of identification we accept include: State issued ID or Driver’s License, School ID, Tribal ID, U.S. Permanent Resident Cards, and more. To access the full list of documents we accept please click this link. If you have any questions about ID submission, please contact our team at ORFsupport@nexuscp.org

 

Letters of Support

Starting in 2024 Open Road Fund finalists that are randomly selected to participate in round two of the application will need to submit two letters of support. The Letters of Support must both come from Black community members. Only one letter of support can be written by a Black family relative. 

We want to ensure that all recipients are a part of, connected to, and supporting our communities. The letters should be  less than one page, double-spaced. The letter should explain 1) how they know you; 2) why they believe in your wealth building plan; and 3) talk about the ways that you are connected to our shared community. 

Only the 100 finalists that are selected to move forward to the second round will be asked to provide the letters of support. You will not need to submit them during registration, but you should think of a few people to write these letters in the event  you are selected. 

If you have any questions about letters of support,  please contact our team at ORFsupport@nexuscp.org.

  

Life Experience Question

The Open Road Fund aims to have the most impact possible through our grantmaking process. We want to better understand who in our community we are reaching through our engagement process. This information will be confidential and only seen by staff and our advisory committee members.

This year, we will be asking applicants to share if they have had specific life experiences, such as housing instability, experiences of incarceration, and more. The life experience categories we chose were created by community, our advisory committee, and the Open Road Fund team. When filling out the application, please make sure to select any life experiences that are true for you.

If you have any questions about this addition,  please contact our team at ORFsupport@nexuscp.org.

Bank Account requirements

Starting this year, all finalists will be required to have a bank account and valid mailing address to receive funds. If you do not have one at the time of application, you may still apply. However, if you are selected for an award, you will need to  set up an account before we distribute your gift. 

We understand the complexities and barriers that exist in banking for our community, and we did not come to this conclusion enthusiastically. Unfortunately, we learned in 2023 that other types of accounts—like Chime, Venmo, Paypal, and Cashapp—simply are not built to accept gifts this size.

If you are an adult receiving an award by direct deposit, the bank account will have to be in your name. We cannot deposit the funds into the accounts of family or friends. 

If you are under 18 and selected for an award, we may not be able to directly deposit your award. If that happens We will work with you and your parents or guardians to get your award to you.

The Open Road Fund can only distribute funds to awardees via direct deposit or check. If you have any questions about this or any other part of the application please contact our team via email at ORFsupport@nexuscp.org.

 

Changes to Group App Process

For applicants applying as a group this year, we are simplifying the application process. Now it is possible for group members to apply using a single application. To apply as a group, all members must be eligible for the Open Road Fund, and you must commit to a single wealth building project that all members will work on together. 

The first person on your group application will be automatically designated as  the primary contact for your group. Unlike last year, each of your group members will not need their own individual accounts. You will be able to share the application login with your fellow group members, so that they can fill out their sections on their own. To make things easier, you should also consider planning a day for all group application  members to fill out the application together, in person.

Our hope is that these changes make  it easier for groups to apply to the Open Road Fund. If you have any questions about this or any other part of the application please contact our team via email at ORFsupport@nexuscp.org.

 

Ancestry Requirements 

We will continue to ask questions about ancestry on the application, however this year we did our best to make these questions easier to answer. We understand that you may not know the names of specific enslaved ancestors, or you may not have access to all of your family history—that is okay! This year’s question prompts will ask you to focus on connections to your ancestry that you do know. Prioritize telling us about the family history you have that helps you know you are descended from Black people who endured enslavement in the Americas due to the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

If you have any questions about this or any other part of the application please contact our team via email at ORFsupport@nexuscp.org.

Open Road Fund Community Access Provider Webinar Registration 

Open Road Fund's Community Partnership Registration Form 


Join the Open Road Fund's Community Access Partnership Info session to learn about our Community Engagement Strategies and how we can come together to serve our community .


Wednesday, May 29, 2024

12:00 pm - 1:00 pm CST

Zoom


In this session, we will discuss what is means to be a Community Access Provider and how we can provide resources for community through the application process and for our awardees.


The Community Partnership info session is, virtual, live, and open to community service providers/ organization in MN, ND, SD.

The first 500 participants to enter the Zoom webinar will be admitted. If there is full capacity, any guests that registered but are not able to enter the Zoom webinar will receive a recording of the session.













Nexus Community Partners recently awarded $50,000 to 99 Black individuals through the Open Road Fund.

Nexus is partnering with Research in Action to evaluate and report on the outcomes of our collective efforts to work alongside the community in developing a model for redistributing unrestricted funds directly to Black people.

In our first report, you can read about the roadblocks to Black wealth, learn more about the first round of applicants, and the successes and challenges faced by the 2023 awardees.

The Open Road Fund will re-open Juneteenth (June 19), 2024 for its second grant-making year.

Download the full report here!  And get a preview below.

 

 

“Always the expectation that we need to struggle collectively and intentionally to change the state of affairs. And I know that being in this community for several decades now that has been the charge. One foot in the academy but never totally there but always with the expectation that political, economic, social change can happen and it is in our hands.” – Rose Brewer 

 

Open Road Fund’s event “Economic Ownership & Power” took place on Wednesday, March 27th, 2024 from 6 – 8 pm CT. In this session, we learned about the history of economic ownership and power, the racial wealth divide, and cooperative economics as a way to build wealth as Black folks in our community.

Speakers

  • Dr. Rose Brewer, Morse Alumni Distinguished Teaching Professor and Professor of African American & African Studies, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
  • Nkuli Shongwe, Director of Community Wealth Building at Nexus
  • Anisha Murphy, Esq., Owner of Just Law LLC, Adjunct Professor at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, and Vice President of Partnership Development at Community Reinvestment Fund, USA
  • Moderator: Danielle Mkali, Senior Director of Community Wealth Building

 

How do we build economic ownership and power? 

“For me it’s about giving ourselves grace, we have been through so much as a people. They can’t kill us. It goes to show how powerful we are and how resilient we are no matter what society throws at us.” – Anisha Murphy

 

“Organizing around economic ownership and power is where it starts…It’s going to take multiple strategies for us to get to a place where we can see liberation, where we can see ourselves really exist and reimagine what it looks like to live outside of those systems” – Nkuli Shongwe 

 

About the Black Wealth Community Education Series

 

The Open Road Fund at Nexus Community Partners is hosting a Black Wealth Community Education Series from January to May 2024. The series is free, virtual, and live and is available as a resource for all while centering Black people and Black experiences. Topics include economic justice, housing, health and healing, and more. This is a Black-centered space where the Open Road Fund prioritizes uplifting Black voices and safety. Learn more about the Open Road Fund here.

Want to join the next event in the series? Sign up here for Nexus’s newsletter to stay connected!

 

Open Road Fund is hosting a Black Wealth Community Education Series from January to May 2024, covering financial wellbeing, housing, health and healing, and more. The series is free, open the public, and a Black-centered space. 

Financial Wellbeing: Strategies to Building Wealth took place on February 21st, 2024. The recording and evaluation form are located below.

In this session, we discuss different types of housing structures and how they relate to building Black wealth. Our panelists included Aarica Coleman, Appointed Administrator of the City of Bloomington’s Housing & Redevelopment Authority; Kimani Beard, Co-Founder of Summer Cypher Mpls & Member of Philadelphia Community Farm; and Sharon Garth, Retired Banker and Community Development Advocate. Kirstin Burch, Program Director of Family Housing Fund moderated.

Open Road Fund Black Wealth Community Education Series Feedback Survey

Housing and Shelter

Wednesday, February 21, 6:00 - 8:00 PM CST
Thank you for attending our Black Wealth Community Education Series event:  Housing and Shelter

Please let us know what you liked about the event and how we can improve to make future events even better. Your feedback is very much appreciated!




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Open Road Fund is hosting a Black Wealth Community Education Series from January to May 2024, covering financial wellbeing, housing, health and healing, and more. The series is free, open the public, and a Black-centered space. 

Financial Wellbeing: Strategies to Building Wealth took place on Thursday, January 25th. The recording and evaluation form are all located below.

In this session, we discuss strategies for building and maintaining wealth with Katherine Lankford of Finance and Affirmations and Kenya McKnight-Ahad, CEO and Founder of the Black Women’s Wealth Alliance. Katherine shares her expertise on life insurance and asset protection, while Kenya returns to talk about money management and spending plans.

Open Road Fund
Black Wealth Community Education Series
Feedback Survey

Sorry, this form is not available.

Open Road Fund is hosting a Black Wealth Community Education Series from January to May 2024, covering financial wellbeing, housing, health and healing, and more. Financial Wellbeing: Exploring the Impact of Trauma and Triumphs behind Money Habits took place on Thursday, January 11th. The recording, study guide, and evaluation form are all located below.

Katherine Lankford of Finance and Affirmations hosted this panel featuring Kenya McKnight Ahad from Black Womens Wealth Alliance and David McGee from Build Wealth MN.

Guiding Questions

The guiding questions can be used to reflect and set goals around your own individual/family financial goals. The questions are meant to serve as a guide and to help you begin identifying emotions and beliefs around money, and to begin unpacking the traumas that may affect your financial well being. We understand and acknowledge that not everyone share the same experiences when it comes to finances and not everyone experiences trauma as it is related to money. These questions can still be helpful to help identify where money beliefs start and how we pass them down generationally.

As Kenya McKnight-Ahad mentioned in the session, “money is a tool to building wealth. It is not the full scope of how we measure wealth.” We also want to emphasize that there are oppressive systems that were created and some that still exist today that hinders Black folks from building wealth and obtaining financial freedom. As you reflect on these questions, please be aware of how certain feelings and emotions may show up in your body and allow yourself grace to feel them when doing so.

Lastly, we ask that you begin having these conversations with your children, family, and community in a way that feels comfortable and safe for you.

  • What was the atmosphere surrounding money in your family?
  • What were the specific financial struggles and/or success in your family?
  • How did your family discuss or avoid discussions around money?
  • Where did that belief come from?
  • Where do I want to see myself financially in the next six months, one year, and five years from now?

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 ORFsupport@nexuscp.org. If you have questions, please reference our FAQ page.

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
dmkali@nexuscp.org