One America Community Efforts
Little Bar

Program: Building Just Communities: Reducing Disparities and Racial Segregation, St. Paul, MN
Contact(s): Jay Schmitt, Executive Director: (612) 333-1260
Purpose: To address regional disparities of racial segregation and poverty through leadership development and strategic planning

Background Program Operations Outcomes


Building Just Communities: Reducing Disparities and Racial Segregation began in 1996 as an effort to reverse the growing trend of poverty and racial segregation in the Minneapolis/ St Paul metropolitan area. The organization began under the auspices of a congregational ministry that believes in community action as a venue to improve racial segregation.

Program Operations

Building Just Communities uses a multi-layered approach to increase the economic opportunity and living conditions in improvised neighborhoods. The general goal is to provide local residents with leadership training and community-organizing skills. The training sessions are done as needed by community members. The overall goal of community organizing is to develop partnerships with local businesses, nonprofits, and environmental and government agencies to better coordinate services and access for local resident living in poverty. Program participants also receive training on dismantling racism as a way to facilitate discussion surrounding the lack of access to a quality livelihood and as a means to create an awareness of structural racism.

Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments

Building Just Communities has trained over 100 leaders in dismantling racism and community organizing. In the process, community leaders have worked with local nonprofits to train 50 Hispanic entrepreneurs in starting small businesses. It has also formed an alliance among 20 Hispanic entrepreneurs to create a $1.5 million retail business incubator. In addition, the organization worked with city officials to sponsor a job training consortium to assist 35 South Asian Americans in securing living-wage jobs, and it worked with federal, state and local authorities to secure the allocation of $68 million to redevelop blighted metro brown fields--environmentally unsafe land--into high-wage producing sites.

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