Like MnSure, the Minnesota Department of Health and Met Council, we allege Request for Proposals (RFP’s) are a unique way to get agency information on planning, copy it, get ideas without benefiting agencies in the black community.
By Don Allen, Publisher – Our Black News
The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), Pathways to Prosperity grant program seeks to make Minnesota more competitive by meeting the common skills needs of businesses and individuals. The narrative on DEED’s page goes into deep rhetoric about creating workers with education and skill-sets. DEED says, “The program’s innovative approach helps educationally under-prepared adults succeed in well-paying careers by integrating basic skills education and career-specific training in fields where new skills are in high demand. By focusing on high-demand fields, Pathways meets the needs of business while ensuring that students find well-paying jobs with room for advancement.”
If DEED’s mission with the Pathways to Prosperity program is to “help educationally under-prepared adults succeed in well-paying careers by integrating basic skills education and career-specific training in fields where new skills are in high demand,” then why did DEED ignore grassroots, community agencies in north Minneapolis after contacting them and requesting they apply for the grant?
North Minneapolis has seen over 90 shootings since January. Data tables show zip code 55411 has an unemployment rate close, if not exceeding 40 percent, yet DEED has overlooked a local agency who was single-handedly responsible for designing, operating and funding (out of her pocket), the Minneapolis Urban League’s 13th Grade program; currently responsible for over 100 minorities from poor backgrounds being back in school, or graduating from college.
Angela Edwards, a long-time resident of north Minneapolis operates Education Explosion – a nonprofit agency located in Lyndale Avenue north. Earlier this year, Angela gathered assistance from several local professional grant writing agencies to complete her answer to DEED’s Pathways to Prosperity RFP. She was timely and has a unique service more effective than the Minneapolis Urban League for getting men and women from all walks of life who live in north Minneapolis back in school. “They can need their GED or want to go to college at MCTC; whatever it is, I start them on a pathway to college and don’t stop until their first day of class, tests and celebrate when they graduate,” said Edwards.
Edwards, who is directly responsible for over 50 local African Americans getting back into school is a graduate of Metropolitan State University and holds a Liberal Arts Degree.
Edwards told Our Black News, “It’s never too late for school, college or training. I got mine; it was hard work, but I finished and I need to give back to my community.”
In 2015, Edwards rented out an office space in north Minneapolis; she set up a computer lab and gave resume classes twice a week. She also has sat outside her building and asked young men and women going in and out of the liquor store next door, “Don’t you want an education?”
Education Explosions’ mission was aligned directly with DEED’s Pathways to Prosperity program focusing on the creation within the Twin Cities black community to create a highly skilled workforce that is more critical than ever to economic growth and shared prosperity.
But is that what DEED really wants for black Minnesotans? Currently, we allege the answer is no-way!
The Pathways to Prosperity awards were supposed to be announced in late February; she (Edwards) received several emails citing the process was very in-depth and to “be patient.”
The awards were announced last week (March 21). Edwards’ Education Explosion was not on the list neither were a host of hard-working agencies who handle black Minnesotans. Edwards was clearly upset in a telephone interview, “We have kids-killing-kids; mothers with lost hopes and grown men walking the streets north who do not know how to read, write or make change. This is appalling that DEED and Governor Mark Dayton would dismiss the black community who suffers from a lack of information, technology and resources. I cannot keep funding this mission out of my pocket when other agencies who do not do one-third of the things I do get upwards from twenty-five thousand…for what? –stated Edwards.
“It is clear to many in the black community, especially in north Minneapolis that DEED does not seek out any collaborations with black organizations that work on behalf of the people” said long-time north Minneapolis public policy advocate Stacey Paine.
Paine told Our Black News that she’s called DEED several times and not once has she had a call returned. Last Wednesday, she said, “I’m done; DEED does not have the right people on the inside to make their own mission work in north Minneapolis, that’s why they ignore us.”
“In the very beginning DEED called me. I followed their process and fully completed the RFP. This process was timely and personally costly. For someone who lives in north Minneapolis and sees the day-to-day struggled of common people, I just would have DEED to burn me alive than to ever lie about their misguided mission that does not serve the lower one-third of my community,” said Edwards.
“I have no choice; I might have to close my doors on over 60 people. I’m right next door to Wells Fargo, I did their funding RFP…nothing,” I cannot get anyone to give me an answer.
Is DEED really in the business to assist Minnesota’s black community?
No…for black Minnesotans, the Pathways to Prosperity program is not Changing Workforce Development; its putting pathways and prosperity far away from those who need it most.