Working In "The Zone": Reflections on Community Partnerships in North Minneapolis

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Joseph Klein


The City of Minneapolis suffers from severe racial disparities. While Minneapolis is often trumpeted nationally as an affordable, thriving metropolitan area and an economic success story, those narratives are not the day-to-day reality for many residents of the city. Decades of institutionalized racism, intergenerational poverty, and exclusionary practices such as redlining have caused dramatic disparities between white people and people of color. Many of these disparities occur spatially, with North Minneapolis–a predominantly Black, low-income area– having poorer outcomes than the mostly white neighborhoods in Minneapolis. Compared to the city as a whole, for example, the Northside of Minneapolis experiences lower educational outcomes, higher crime rates, and higher rates of unemployment than the rest of the city. The Metropolitan Council (the Twin Cities’ regional government) designated the Northside as a “racially concentrated area of poverty,” which indicates that more than half of the residents are people of color and more than 40 percent of residents have family incomes less than 185 percent of the federal poverty threshold. City officials, nonprofit organizations, and community leaders
are working to resolve these disparities. Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges was elected in 2013 on a platform of racial justice and closing the city’s educational achievement gap. In 2015, North Minneapolis was designated a Promise Zone, which is a sign of the federal government’s investment in North Minneapolis. In addition to these policy-driven solutions, community leaders are working directly on the ground to fight against racial disparities and close the achievement gap on the Northside.

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Klein, J. (2016). Working In "The Zone": Reflections on Community Partnerships in North Minneapolis. Undergraduate Journal of Service Learning & Community-Based Research, 5, 1–4.
Reflective Essays