A Minnesota Without Poverty continues to work from the conviction that there is enough for all to have enough—if we all do our part. As such, we have determined that “our part” focuses on two related areas, both connected to the Legislative Commission to End Poverty in Minnesota by 2020.
The broad recommendations that were first developed by a bipartisan legislative commission in 2008 are the following:
- Restore work as a means out of poverty
- Refocus public assistance to streamline services
- Help Minnesotans build and maintain assets
- Revitalize communities through infrastructure and person-to-person support
- Modernize our system of education to build the best workforce in the nation
- Develop an ongoing structure to monitor Minnesota’s efforts to end poverty
With the economic recession, state budget crises, and other political barriers, implementation of the recommendations has been slow and very spotty. Therefore, A Minnesota Without Poverty has recently taken on the task of developing a process to reinvigorate the recommendations. We call it the Legislative Commission to End Poverty work plan. The purpose of this work plan will be to reinvigorate the commission’s recommendations and to drive progress toward ending poverty in Minnesota by 2020 through:
- Convening organizations and key people
- Tracking progress
- Informing the legislature and the general public
- Planning for implementation
The second broad arena that we are committed to working on relates to three of the commission’s recommendations: restoring work as a means out of poverty, helping Minnesotans build and maintain assets, and revitalizing communities through infrastructure and person-to-person support.
To that end, we have developed a microenterprise catalyst partnership process, where we engage congregations or other community organizations to partner with A Minnesota Without Poverty to create a loan pool and to train potential entrepreneurs in a community. Our focus areas are rural communities, immigrant communities, and communities of color. At this point, we have sponsored two thriving microenterprise partnerships—an art shop at Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis with seven artists who have experienced poverty, and another art shop in Wadena, a rural community that experienced a devastating tornado two years ago and is in one of the counties with the highest poverty rate in the state.