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Huda Ahmed to Support the Collaboration.

Organizations Launch Emergency “Twin Cities Rebuild for the Future Fund,” Already at $1 Million.

June 5, 2020

To address a broken criminal justice system and policies rooted in long-standing racism, Greater Twin Cities United Way, The Minneapolis Foundation and the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation today announced a multi-year collaboration with the goal of driving transformational change in the system. To partner on solutions, the three organizations will learn from, support and partner with people who are directly impacted by disparities that result from inequities in the criminal justice system.

Huda Ahmed, a transformational change expert, community activist and Humphrey Policy Fellow Alum, has been hired as director of this work and will support the collaboration in partnership with the broader community.

“This is a long-term commitment. A commitment to stay with our community as we build a new system of justice that doesn’t operate on racial profiling and systemic racism,” said Dr. Eric J. Jolly, President and CEO of the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation. “The partnership of our three organizations is an investment in the vision of our community leaders. They know the path to success and change; and we must follow them with our resources.”

"Criminal justice reform is central to creating a truly equitable community,” said R.T. Rybak, President and CEO of The Minneapolis Foundation. “The status quo is unacceptable, and this partnership is one way we are committed to driving toward lasting change."

An Urgent Call to Support the Community: New Rebuilding Fund

The outrage and civil unrest sparked by the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police have resulted in significant property damage in cultural corridors where Black, Brown and Indigenous people work and own businesses – areas that serve as the life force of surrounding neighborhoods.

As a result, Greater Twin Cities United Way, the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation and The Minneapolis Foundation have established the “Twin Cities Rebuild for the Future Fund” with pooled investments that will provide emergency support for vital micro- and minority-owned small businesses. Currently funded at more than $1 million, the fund will cover repairs, equipment, technology, building materials, relocation expenses and more.

Funding will be distributed in late June to multiple community-led business support initiatives and business-focused nonprofits after an invitation-only process.

Initial funders include Ameriprise Financial, BMO Harris, Bremer Bank, the Bush Foundation, CHS, Greater Twin Cities United Way, the Medtronic Foundation, The Minneapolis Foundation, and the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation.

Inequities in the Criminal Justice System

Transforming the criminal justice system goes far beyond incarceration. Significant issues begin with the racist belief that Black and Brown people are inherently more dangerous.

According to the Sentencing Project, the criminal justice system’s rate of contact with people of color is a major cause of the disproportionate rate of fatalities. In fact, a recent story from the New York Times shows Minneapolis police have used force against Black people at seven times the rate of White people since 2015.

There are many decision points within the criminal justice system. The racial disparity of each decision grows cumulatively as Black, Brown and Indigenous people move through the system, producing unequal outcomes. Some decision points include:

  • Disciplinary Action: In policed schools, disciplinary actions for students of color put them in the criminal justice system versus the school system (MinnPost, 2018; Hennepin County Attorney data, 2017).
  • Pre-Trial: A 2016 report by the Harvard Law School shows 34 percent of Americans are stuck in jail because of the inability to pay bail. And, those who don’t make bail are 25 percent more likely to plead guilty, often against their own interest.
  • Sentencing: Laws are designed to more harshly punish certain classes of offenses in a way that has a disparate impact on people of color. For instance, according to the Sentencing Project, one in three people in the U.S. arrested for drug law violations is Black, although drug use rates don’t differ by race and ethnicity.
  • Supervised Release: Re-entry programs post-incarceration are underfunded, with many parole and probation systems offering supervision with little support, according to the Sentencing Project.

“We are committed to listen to and support Black, Brown and Indigenous people in our community who experience historical oppression and racism to transform our criminal justice system into a system that works for everyone,” said John Wilgers, President and CEO of Greater Twin Cities United Way.

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