Several Minnesota newspapers picked up a Washington Post story recently that chronicled efforts by Minnesota racial justice advocates and other concerned citizens to improve policing, in the wake of the tragic shooting of Philando Castile two years ago. The article described a “Lights On” program, believed to be the first of its kind in the country, and sponsored by Microgrants, a non-profit organization with which Growth & Justice has partnered. With financing provided by this program, instead of writing tickets for minor equipment problems, police officers are authorized to issue $50 coupons so motorists can have those problems fixed at area auto shops. Twenty participating police departments have given out approximately 660 coupons in a little more than a year. The article goes on to document other progress in specific reaction to the tragedy, including a new scholarship fund, local candidates winning elections by advocating for police reform, and an exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Art inspired by Philando’s story. From the Post story: “The program is among several changes after Castile’s death that are aimed at improving the lives of low-income residents here and transforming how police interact with them.’’
Wayne Jennings, one of Minnesota’s most respected experts on education innovation, has recently published “School Transformation,” a highly readable and inspiring book summarizing a lifetime of learning about effort by schools to improve and adapt. In making the case for new emphasis in schools on social and emotional learning, the author cites a finding from a highly reputable 20-year study, conducted in San Diego by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and other partners. The study of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) found that two-third of youth were experiencing long-term impacts from a childhood trauma, such as child abuse, substance abuse, incarceration of a parent, neglect, divorce or suicide. The study determined that 20 percent of youth suffered from three or more such adverse experiences and that this trauma has a direct impact on health and longevity. Gov. Mark Dayton recently honored Jennings with a proclamation and you can read more about his contributions to education innovation in an article by Joe Nathan at the Center for School Change.
A new report from the Minnesota Housing Partnership reveals that there is not a single county in the state of Minnesota where a full-time minimum wage worker can afford even a modest one-bedroom apartment. According to the report, in the Twin Cities, it takes 69 hours per week at minimum wage to afford rent for a single bedroom. The study, “Out of Reach Minnesota 2018,” also illustrates the stark racial dimension of the situation, noting that 61 percent of households of color are renters, compared to only 25 percent of white households. The crisis hits hardest at the workforce employed in retail sales, food preparation and housekeeping, and jobs with the most projected growth, such as home health aides, also don't make enough to pay the prevailing rent. Building on an annual report produced by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, the Minnesota report tracks the growing gap between wages and rent in both the Twin Cities and across Greater Minnesota. Polk County, in northwestern Minnesota, had the steepest percentage hike over the last decade in the average wage necessary to rent local housing.
Quote: “This community here in the Twin Cities has been very intentional about the many ways we can go about obtaining justice…To see the community begin to respond in a number of different ways has been a beautiful picture in the wake of this (Philando Castile) travesty.” Danny Givens, 40, a St. Paul pastor who is the clergy liaison to the local Black Lives Matter chapter, in Washington Post article cited above.