Olmsted County and the state of Minnesota report significant disparities in financial stability and educational attainment between white residents and residents who are Black, Indigenous, or people of color. Both nationally and locally, the health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 crisis are falling disproportionately on Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color, as well as immigrant and refugee communities. Experts warn that the pandemic will widen existing disparities without intentional efforts to support those most impacted, improve health equity, and rebuild more resilient and just communities.
That's why we're committing to Build Back Better, a phrase used in disaster recovery that emphasizes equity and puts communities at the center. Build Back Better means that we're doubling down in our fight for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in Olmsted County. Read on to learn more about some of our investments to Build Back Better for a more equitable Olmsted County.
Culturally Powered Communities
Launching in July 2021, Culturally Powered Communities is a multi-layered capacity building program that provides individualized support to organizations across four areas: financial investment, peer learning, organizational and executive development, and strengthening networks. Organizations will develop a plan of action for growing their capacities and will spend two years working toward their goals with a community of supportive peers. Culturally Powered Communities will support two Communities of Practice: one for culturally specific organizations that wish to grow in size, scope, or effectiveness, and one for mainstream organizations that wish to become more equitable in their work. Learn more about our transformational capacity building strategy.
Partners: Boys and Girls Club of Rochester, Damascus Way, Ethiopian Community of Rochester, Family Service Rochester, Intermix Project, Listos Preschool and Childcare, Next Chapter Ministries, Pamoja.
Culturally Powered Communities is made possible through a collaboration between United Way of Olmsted County and Mayo Clinic. Our work is powered in partnership with Otto Bremer Trust, with the support of other local partners
Meadow Park Initiative
Meadow Park Initiative is an effort to build knowledge, skills, connections, partnerships, and leaders among diverse residents in the Meadow Park neighborhood in southeast Rochester to collectively take action to advance their health and vibrancy. This intercultural neighborhood initiative creates community connectedness, fosters relationships, and reduces barriers through culturally appropriate activities and resident-driven efforts. It brings Somali, Latino, African American, Asian, and white residents together to work on shared aspirations, with the long-term goal of improving the overall quality of life in the neighborhood. Learn more about Meadow Park Initiative.
Partners: Meadow Park neighborhood residents, Family Service Rochester, Intercultural Mutual Assistance Association
Build Back Better COVID-19 Recovery Fund
United Way of Olmsted County’s Build Back Better COVID-19 Recovery Fund was designed to strengthen communities hit hardest by the COVID-19 crisis by supporting the organizations that serve them. Culturally specific organizations--those nonprofits that serve and are led by people from Olmsted County's diverse cultural communities--play a vital role in communities' wellbeing. They are ideally situated to understand the cultural norms, beliefs, and traditions of the people they serve; effectively engage community members; interpret and remove barriers that impede access to services; and bridge norms between communities and institutions.
Partners: Barbershop and Social Services, Hope Fuse, Intercultural Mutual Assistance Association (IMAA), Journie, Somali American Social Service Association, Somali Community Resettlement Services, and Sports Mentorship Academy
Read the Post Bulletin News article on the Build Back Better COVID-19 Recovery Fund.
Read the complete BBB Awards press release here.
Build Back Better Distance Learning Support
Distance Learning Support grants are a collaboration between United Way of Olmsted County as the funding partner and Cradle 2 Career as the implementation partner. As schools around the country start the academic year, it became clear that the pandemic would amplify educational disparities. That's why we are supporting programs that provide high-quality distance learning support for K-12 students from low-income families, BIPOC students, and students with disabilities.
Partners: Boys & Girls Club of Rochester, Next Chapter Ministries, Somali American Social Services Association, Sports Mentorship Academy, Spark!
View the KIMT3 News feature on Build Back Better Distance Learning Support.
View the KTTC News feature on Build Back Better Distance Learning Grantees.
Read the complete BBB Distance Learning Support Awards press release here.
Economic instability in our community has increased dramatically due to COVID-19, and communities being hit hardest by the pandemic are oftentimes those communities that were already burdened by housing costs. United Way of Olmsted County has invested in the Eviction Prevention Program, a partnership between Legal Assistance of Olmsted County, Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services, and Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota. United Way funding will be used to support eviction prevention and diversion services, including legal assistance and assistance with court costs for households facing eviction.
Partner: Legal Assistance of Olmsted County
To learn more about our Build Back Better strategy, read our supporting research.