Editor’s Note: I met Ms. Angela Edwards many years ago when she worked out of the Minneapolis Urban League. Her dedication to all in the community should be commended, but also she is a premiere community stakeholder who walks-the-walk. ~Don Allen
By Rick Altorel, Guest Columnist – OurBlackNews.com
Angela Edwards is humble. Today in her modest office on Lyndale Avenue north at Dowling, she sits at her desk peaking around the corner every couple of minutes to see if the clients in Education Explosions computer lab needed help. Surrounded by over 200-nonprofit agencies within an five-square-mile area, Education Explosion sits as one of the best functioning agencies and one of the only that has not ever been funded…for more than 10-years.
“It’s me…all me. I care about the community and work two different jobs just to keep this place open. I’ve been doing this for the community for over 10-years and never took one grant or donation from anyone,” said Edwards. Education Explosion is going through some growing pains, a large number of residents seeking assistance from far away like Saint Cloud and right here in north Minneapolis depend on “Mother Angie” to keep these doors open to print up resumes, fill out online applications and to be in a safe and culturally relevant surrounding while applying for school or a job. Edwards sees the need to expand her real-time working model to get her clients GED’s and into local community and trade colleges hoping for the best in an area that has unemployment numbers sometimes in the double-digits.
“I have clients being referred to me from prison reentry programs, local nonprofits and word-of mouth, but I’m their last ditch effort of some kind of normalcy before some of these young men go back to the streets. I have applied for local grants with everyone from Wells Fargo, to DEED,” said Edwards with a postscript that DEED officials came and visited her operation and have engaged her – but to what extent is unknown.
“It looks hopeful, but I want to know what I have to do to get funding that would help the many people I see each day in search of a new way of life, chasing a dream, or deciding the streets are not enough and an education is the best way to move forward for them as an individual and their families…that’s what’s important, them kids,” – firmly stated by Edwards.
In June 2016, Minnesota governor Mark Dayton signed off on more than $35 million dollars to assist the black community in their efforts of training for jobs, education and proactive, positive community engagement. Year-to-date, there has been no sign of the money, nor has there been a top-of-mind and sight of a change for people of color in the area of Education Explosion.
Edward spoke with tears in her eyes: “My office is right next door to a liquor store; I count hundreds of black men and women at all hours of the day going in and out of the liquor store. I just want to provide an alternative to medicating poverty with liquor in our community. I’ve always done the right thing and I hope karma is real because we are dying out here.”