Engaged Research and Outreach Projects


A major part of UROC’s mission and budget is dedicated to providing an environment for initiating and nurturing collaborative work between many different parts of the University and North Minneapolis community. This involves operating an efficient and welcoming facility for both large and small projects, and may involve providing advice and support on strategies for engaging residents.

Many of the projects and programs taking place at UROC are ongoing, fully-staffed projects, while others are temporary grant-funded projects or monthly conversations. All projects at UROC are conducted through partnership between community members and staff, faculty, and students from various University of Minnesota colleges including University of Minnesota Extension.


UROC Projects and Programs

These are projects and programs initiated and led by UROC staff in partnership with community members.

Community Affairs Leadership Council

The University Northside Partnership is an opportunity for the University of Minnesota and Northside community members to discuss issues that are critical to the urban core. This is accomplished through the University’s Robert J. Jones Urban Research Outreach-Engagement Center.

Critical Conversations Series

Critical Conversations is a series of public discussions that brings together scholars, historians, artists, community leaders, and the public to address urban issues. Coordinated by the University’s Robert J. Jones Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center, the twice-annual event is intended as a "gathering place" for urban-focused research, dialogue, and cultural events.

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Hennepin County Probation Community Engagement Plan

Hennepin County is partnering with African American and American Indian community members to help support long-term engagement to reduce racial disparities in corrections outcomes.

Hennepin County Sexually Exploited Youth Needs Assessment

This participatory research project seeks to identify ways that Hennepin County No Wrong Door can better serve sexually exploited youth. In particular, this project seeks to understand why some youth who have been identified as sexually exploited may not be able to access Safe Harbor supportive services. This project seeks youth voice and staff insight to make programmatic recommendations so that Hennepin County No Wrong Door can better serve this population.

Intersections of Sexual Violence, Domestic Violence & Sex Trafficking

This project is a secondary analysis of existing qualitative data on sex trading and trafficking to examine the intersections of sexual violence and domestic violence with trafficking. The goals of this project are: to deepen understanding of these intersections; to identify opportunities for primary prevention; and to engage communities in developing upstream prevention around these intersections.

Josie R. Johnson UROC Engaged Dissertation Fellows

The Josie R. Johnson UROC Engaged Dissertation Fellows program supports graduate students as they develop into scholars that partner with communities while conducting research that addresses community priorities.

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Mapping the Demand for Sex with Trafficked People in Minnesota

Mapping the Demand: Sex Buyers in Minnesota surfaces new community-based knowledge about who purchases sex, where they live and purchase sex, how they enter the market, and what they seek in the marketplace. This report fills a critical gap in our knowledge about the statewide marketplace for commercial sex and the role of sex buyers in that market. 

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Neighborhood U

UROC’s Neighborhood U is a family-friendly program that’s designed to bring University of Minnesota researchers to North Minneapolis for demonstrations and conversations on a range of entertaining and helpful topics. Neighborhood U topics range from astronomy to financial planning, and are always free and open to the public. Visit UROC's Facebook page for future performance times and dates.

Northside Achievement Zone Community Survey

The Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ) Community Survey is conducted every other summer in North Minneapolis to gauge the effectiveness of NAZ and give community members the chance to provide feedback on NAZ. The survey is conducted by University of Minnesota students and community members through Wilder Research.

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Northside Asset Project

The Northside Asset Project is a web-based tool developed by North Minneapolis residents and the University of Minnesota that uses interactive maps and community stories to spark conversations about the people, places and services that contribute to quality of life on the Minneapolis's northside. 

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Northside Circulator

The goal of this project is to create a circulator that runs through north Minneapolis to serve, seniors and University of Minnesota students primarily.  This Northside Circulator would ease access to food sources, housing, and the park system as well as county services.

Northside Job Creation Team

The goal of the Northside Job Creation Team is to create 1,000 sustainable jobs in North Minneapolis by 2019. This is being done by using research to identify businesses that match the employee profile of North Minneapolis and then work with local partners to recruit businesses to relocate or expand in North Minneapolis.

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Northside Job Creation Team - Communications Task Force

The NJCT Communications Task Force promotes the work of the Northside Job Creation Team, using communication professionals from the University of Minnesota, the City of Minneapolis and the philanthropic community. The goals is to make the NJCT’s work transparent and to transform the way economic development works in North Minneapolis.

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Northside Job Creation Team - Leadership Minor

The Leadership Minor is working with the Northside Job Creatiion Team to pilot a new method of utilizing community and professional leaders to disseminate job leads, especially for businesses working with the Northside Job Creation Team.

Northside Job Creation Team - Work Force Task Force

The NJCT Work Force Task Force helps prepare Northside residents for employment, with a focus on filling the positions created through the Northside Job Creation Team, which has a goal of creating 1,000 sustainable jobs by recruiting businesses to relocate or expand in North Minneapolis. Transportation barriers is among the many employment issues the task force is addressing.

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Northside Job Creation Team- Business Site Development Task Force

The NJCT Business Site Development Task Force is working to create a business park in North Minneapolis, in an effort to support the Northside Job Creation Team’s goal of creating 1,000 sustainable jobs. A business park would help the NJCT recruit new businesses to the area.

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Parents in Community Action Program and Evaluation Committee

The goal of the Parents in Community Action Program and Evaluation Committee is to ensure the programs reach or exceed state and federal guideline for children who a a part of households earning below the poverty level.

Penn Plymouth Partnership

The Penn Plymouth Partnership seeks to Ccatalyze new investments in the people, places, and institutions around the Penn/Plymouth intersection.

Safe Harbor for All Strategic Planning Process

Many in Minnesota - including some legislators - want to extend Safe Harbor for Youth, which decriminalizes people who sell or provide commercial sex, to adults. This would be a major change in state level policy related to prostitution. Prior to making this change the legislature funded a statewide strategic planning process to examine intended and unintended outcomes, other issues to consider (i.e. services, prevention activities, housing, childprotection, etc.). This project provides a short window to gather information and produce a concise report.

Sex Trading, Trafficking and Community Well-being Initiative

UROC's ongoing Sex Trading, Trafficking and Community Well-Being Initiative examines sex trading, prostitution, and sex trafficking with a focus on the problem at large and how North Minneapolis and other urban communities can take steps to reduce exploitation and harm.

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Towerside Innovation District

The community-born vision for this district called for capitalizing on its incredibly rich concentration of assets – the University of Minnesota, its medical and research complex, three Green Line LRT stations, two thriving neighborhoods – by creating a high-intensity, high density mix of places and spaces where working, living and innovation come together in an equitable, diverse and sustainable community.


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UROC Project Documentation

UROC Project Documentation (UPD) is the system in which UROC watches, seeks to understand and allows for cross departmental work at the Center.  This enables UROC staff, students, and community partners to see potential opportunity in current work and to understand where future opportunities might lead.

Witness Creative Writing Project

The Witness Writing Project is creating a community of writers in North Minneapolis. Its monthly workshops offer participants a chance to use writing to explore various “truths” about justice through poems, short stories, essays, memoirs, and any other form of creative storytelling.

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Words Between the Notes

The goal of Words Between the Notes is to teach local residents and participants in Witness Writing's workshops how to write poetry specifically for performance with jazz musicians then give the participants the chance to perform the work at UROC in front of a live audience.  

Young Women's Initiative of Minnesota - Action Research Engagement

UROC was hired by the Women's Foundation of Minnesota to develop and conduct an action research engagement process to ground the Young Women's Initiative of MN in the voices, experiences, hopes, dreams and wisdom of young women and their communities who experience the largest gaps in opportunities in the state.


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YoUthROC is a community-connected youth research team working to develop a public, accessible space committed to youth, kinship, and action in the Robert J. Jones Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center (UROC) of the University of Minnesota.

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Affiliated Projects and Programs

These are long term fully staffed projects and programs at UROC that have been initiated and are led by Extension or other University departments. Some of these projects receive staff support from the UROC team.

African American Leadership Forum

Researching disparities in education, economic development, health and wellness, and family, culture, and spirituality between the African American community and other sectors of the Twin Cities is the focus of the African American Leadership Forum (AALF). The forum will use research to reduce these overwhelming disparities.

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After-School Maker Space for Minority and Underrepresented K-12 Students in Minnesota

Through interdisciplinary collaborations and community partnerships, this project seeks to use maker-centered approaches and their intersection with science, engineering, and math to enhance STEM learning and close Minnesota's educational achievement gaps.

An exploration of the relationship among police violence, race, and reproductive health outcomes

This study explores how living in a community that has experienced police violence contributes to stress for Black pregnant women living in North Minneapolis.

Asian Media Access 4-H Collaboration

The Hmong Mothers and Daughters Club was developed to learn about leadership, cultural food, and dance. Some of what members learn is on display during an annual event where the club invites elderly community residents to enjoy food provided by the club’s young members.

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Community Based Intervention Effects on Older Adults' Physical Activity and Falls [Ready Steady]

The goal of Ready Steady is to assess the short and long term effects of two sets of  promotion [behavior change] strategies on older adults' physical activity, falls and quality of life. We will recruit community-dwelling older adults living across the Twin Cities, including North Minneapolis. 

Community Health Initiative (CHI)

The Community Health Initiative focuses directly on communities that face public health disparities and other socio-economic issues. This initiative is a direct result of a partnership between Medica and the University of Minnesota's Office for Business & Community Economic Development. This is achieved through a variety of successful, sustainable, and mutually beneficial partnerships and collaborations.

Congressional Arts Competition for Minnesota's 4th Congressional District

The Congressional Arts Competition showcases the artwork of student artists who live or attend school in Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District. The competition builds community by showcasing talented youth, giving them national recognition for their work, and bringing together professional artists as judges, the student artists, and Congressman Keith Ellison.

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The goals of this project are to develop community partnerships, generate feedback about exception from informed consent research studies, inform the public about research in our department.  

Enhancing Smoking Cessation in the Homeless Population (Power to Quit II)

To promote health among the homeless, the Power to Quit II program involves researchers working with Twin Cities homeless shelters to help individuals quit smoking and reduce alcohol abuse. The program involves assessing the effectiveness of intensive motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioral therapy intervention to promote smoking and alcohol cessation.

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Examining the Causes and Affects of Evictions in North Minneapolis

The CURA Evictions project seeks to understand the dynamic process of evictions from the perspectives of tenants and landlords who have experienced the eviction filing process. This project allows participants to share their own voice and stories of evictions. Ultimately, the project aims to understand the experience of tenants who have faced an eviction filing to help better inform the development of targeted interventions, needs, and policy prescriptions, as well as gather data to help better inform the ways that the city and state can work with landlords as partners in community building and help the city produce targeted incentives for landlords illustrating positive behaviors. 

Grandparents Shaping Our Community

This support group is for Northside grandparents who are raising grandchildren. The group supports the mental health of the grandparents and shares information and resources.

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Humphrey Fellowship Program – Human Rights Center

The Humphrey Fellowship Program hosts mid-career professionals from around the world, giving them an opportunity to develop professional leadership skills and enhance their quality of life. The program’s goal is to build international relationships between professional colleagues.

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Junior Entrepreneurs of Minnesota (jEM)

The Junior Entrepreneurs of Minnesota (jEM) Summer Program was created in 2009 by OBCED to inspire youth from the Twin Cities to pursue entrepreneurship and develop a relationship with the University of Minnesota. The goal is to expose youth to leadership development initiatives and exciting learning opportunities.


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Mindful Movement for Physical Activity and Wellbeing in Older Adults: A Community Based Randomized Hybrid Effectiveness-Implementation Study

The broad long-term objective of this research is to optimize physical activity levels in middle to older age adults (>50 years) through Mindful Movement, an integrated mindfulness and behavioral approach, which can be scaled for dissemination nationwide. 

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Minnesota Technical Assistance Program

The Minnesota Technical Assistance Program is designed to help organizations that serve urban communities build capacity and enhance their performance and effectiveness. The program will consist of three primary service components: the Convening component, the Technical Assistance component and the Executive Leadership Development component.  

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North Minneapolis Futures Workshop

This workshop seeks to present data and have an open dialogue regarding the economic future of North Minneapolis examining the direct, indirect, and induced effects of changes in the economy to assess the future of North Minneapolis community and economic development, and to help communities choose their own future.

North Minneapolis Ripple Effects Mapping

This project seeks to evaluate the progress of the Northside Job Creation Team over the past 5 years since inception by hosting a Ripple Effects Mapping workshop with members of the NJCT.

Northside Achievement Zone College Success Action Team - Solution Plan

The Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ) College Success Action Team’s Solution Plan focuses on supporting NAZ students through a successful post-secondary education experience. The plan’s goals are to ensure that NAZ students graduate from high school, enter college, and then graduate from college. The team is working with colleges and universities to create a pipeline for NAZ students, from admission to graduation.

Northside Houses of Worship Preservation Project

Landmark buildings provide communities with stability, a sense of enduring history, and a sense of civic custodianship. Our project aims to preserve these early 20th century buildings as a contribution to the enduring civic character of the North side community.

Opportunity to collaborate with the Families and Long Term Care Projects, University of Minnesota

We are seeking community leaders and organizations to join us to create a true partnership. We want to work together to determine how UMN and the Families and Long Term Care Projects can better serve our neighbors. 

Paid Leave and Minneapolis African-American Families

This project is examining the impact the Minneapolis paid sick leave ordinance has on African American family resilience. The project seeks to provide an avenue for these families to contribute their own narrative around paid leave and other policies at the city and state level.

Racial Justice Afterschool

Understanding how afterschool programming can support young people’s lives is the focus of this program. It addresses everyday trauma young people experience by inviting community awareness and encouraging youth to address their community concerns as they relate to racial justice, health, and trauma.

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Safer Products That Work: Cleaners and Degreasers for Industrual Maintenance and Auto Repair

The goal of this project is to reduce worker exposure to degreasing solvents and improve air quality at industrial and automotive businesses in North Minneapolis. The plan calls for working with businesses to adopt safer cleaning and degreasing products.

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SCC: Leveraging Autonomous Shared Vehicles for Greater Community Health, Equity, Livability, and Prosperity (HELP)

Developing the 'Smart Cloud Commuting System”—a system of giant pools of shared autonomous vehicles—to re-think and re-design future transportation services and enable smart and connected communities where everyone benefits for greater community health, equity, livability, and prosperity.

Sexual Violence Prevention Collaboratory

The Sexual Violence Prevention Collaboratory brings together researchers and students committed to the prevention of sexual violence among college students. The interdisciplinary team studies underexamined but crucial aspects of sexual violence prevention -- such as potential perpetrators on college campuses and normalization of rape culture -- to inform future education and outreach.

Sexual Violence Prevention Collaboratory

The Collaboratory brings together researchers and students committed to the prevention of sexual violence among college students. The interdisciplinary team will study underexamined but crucial aspects of sexual violence prevention, such as potential perpetrators on college campuses and normalization of rape culture, to inform future education and outreach.

Signifyin' and Testifyin' Annual Storytelling Festival

The art of storytelling is the focus of this program. Storytelling is a source of positive instruction for students of all ages. Local, national, and international storytellers share their craft with children in the Metropolitan Area, captivating them with this age-old cultural art form.

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Smart Cloud Commuting System

The University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering has received a National Science Foundation Grant entitled "SCC: Leveraging Autonomous Shared Vehicles for Greater Community Health, Equity, Livability, and Prosperity." The grant will contribute to the development of the Smart Cloud Commuting System—a system of giant pools of shared autonomous vehicles—to re-think and re-design future transportation services and enable smart and connected communities where everyone benefits for greater community health, equity, livability, and prosperity.

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Supplier Diversity Program

The Supplier Diversity program is a continuous program focused on increasing the diversity of the The University of Minnesota Supply Chain. The program supports small, woman, minority, or disabled business enterprise owners (SWMDBE) seeking registeration for MBID, SWMDBE Certification, registering for the OBCED Targeted business database, and participating in events such as the Supplier Diversity Expo.

T/A and UROC Partnership

The University of Minnesota has career opportunities that can impact the community for the better through. This partnership between University Human Resources and UROC works on increasing access for community members to potential careers at the University.

Technology Empowerment Center

The Technology Empowerment Center is a resource that is open to community members for Workforce Development Training Classes, the Computer Refurbishing Program or access to TEC resource center.



Wages Study

The University of Minnesota Medical School Department of Family Medicine and Community Health Wages Study evaluates the Minneapolis Minimum Wage Ordinance and its affect on the health and lives of workers.

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University-Community Partnerships

These partnerships meet at UROC. They have been initiated by community members or University personnel seeking collaborative approaches to pressing urban issues.

10,000 Stories: Minnesota Youth Make Media

Empowering youth through digital storytelling is the thrust of this program. Understanding the experiences of young people is an important part of addressing structural inequality, equity, and social justice in schools and communities. In the classroom, students will create, produce, and direct digital stories, taking on roles as reseachers, teachers, and community leaders.

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Community Health and Advocacy Talks (CHAT)

Community Health and Advocacy Talks (CHAT) is a forum that focuses on community health and advocacy. It brings together stakeholders and community members to address the social factors that determine a community’s health. The program meets on the second Tuesday of every month at the Robert J. Jones Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center.

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CREATE: Co-Developing Research and Engaged Approaches to Transforming Environments

 The goal of this project is to influence public policy and contribute to shared understanding among communities in Minneapolis regarding the impact of segregated urban spaces on the distribution of environmental benefits through investments in parks, clean water, and other green infrastructure.

Cultural Providers Network

The health of children and their families is the focus of the Cultural Providers Network, which brings together communities and organizations that have an interest in promoting policies, practices, standards, and research that address children’s health, with a focus on behavioral health.

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Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP)

The EFNEP provides health and nutrition information to low-income families with children under the age of 18. They learn about healthier meal planning, shopping, and food safety. The EFNEP is a federally funded program that has been educating families for more than 45 years.

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Extension Master Gardener Program: Working to Improve Community Impact

The University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener Program wants to ensure that the right volunteers are selected to be a part of the program. As a result of the University's revised Safety of Minors and background check policies, Extension is requiring all volunteers to undergo a background check every three years to protect the integrity of the University, its affiliates, individuals that participate in the Master Gardener program, and volunteers.

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FLOW Arts Crawl On Plymouth Avenue

Highlight the Arts organizations who call Plymouth Avenue Home   

Good Food, Good Fathering

This pilot project is intended to show that good food and good fathering are complementary. Fathers learn about grocery shopping, meal planning, and food preparation to develop healthy eating practices for their children. It’s one way to strengthen their ability to nurture their children and promote a healthy home.

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IGDI Age 3 Expansion

This project seeks to extend existing measures -- Individual Growth and Development Indicators -- so that teachers and child care providers of three-year-old children can quickly and easily monitor individuals' progress toward academic success, and provide/evaluate interventions for those not currently on track.

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Developing an iPad application to help preschool teachers assess literacy and language levels of their students is the focus of this project. The teachers themselves will be involved in developing the app to ensure that it’s intuitive and meets their needs in making decisions about their students’ education and allows them to evaluate and support instructional recommendations.

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Integrated Urban Infrastructure Solutions for Environmentally Sustainable, Healthy, and Livable Cities

Assessing the priorities of North Minneapolis residents when it comes to environmental sustainability, health, and livability is the focus of this project. Determining the differences between socio-economic groups in their perceptions and attitudes toward those factors will be valuable in building better cities in the future with innovative infrastructure design, technology, and policy.

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INTERFACE seeks to remove information barriers in diverse communities and engage families in ways that help empower families.

LENA Start Implementation and Initial Evaluation

Developing positive parenting and early language skills in Northside families is the goal of LENA Start, which is a “universal access” parent education program. It’s part of Mayor Hodge’s Word Gap Initiative, “Talking=Teaching.”

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Metro Food Access Network

With help from more than 160 partner organizations, the Metro Food Access Network works to make healthy foods accessible to all Twin Cities metro residents. The network’s partners learn from each other and build cross-sector relationships to meet the project goals.

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Northside Educational Alliance Programming

The Northside Educational Alliance (NEA) works with families to develop a plan for accessing the educational opportunities best suited to their childrens’ needs. The NEA’s goal is to educate North Minneapolis residents about educational options and improve the quality of life for them by contributing to a culture that celebrates and prioritizes education.

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Padres Preparados Jovenes saludables (Prepared Parents, Healthy Youth)

Padres Preparados Jovenes Saludables is a program to prevent obesity among Latino youth. Caregivers and youth participate in eight sessions and fill three surveys to determine the program's effectiveness in improving parenting skills and eating and physical activity of Latino youth. 

Police and Black Men Project

The Police and Black Men Project seeks to develop relationships of honesty and trust in semi-weekly meetings between a small group of police officers and African American men. The project will document best practices for two-way relationships of respect and collaboration between police officers and Black men.


Prepare2Nspire provides underrepresented high school students with weekly mathematics tutoring and mentoring. The program is intended to support students in advanced algebra through calculus, building confidence and preparing students for a post-secondary education.

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Progress Monitoring Spanish IGDIs

Through this project, Spanish-speaking preschool teachers have the tools to assess the literacy strengths and challenges of Spanish-speaking preschool students as they head into classroom with English instruction. The Hispanic community is involved in developing the assessment measures.

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Project TRUST

Project TRUST works with schools and teachers to increase the way Somali, Latino, and Hmong students connect to their schools and teachers. Developing a strong relationship between educators and students is a strong predictor of academic achievement and a healthy development.

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ReCast Minneapolis

ReCAST Minneapolis is intended to assist high-risk youth and families to promote resilience and equity in communities that have recently faced civil unrest through implementation of evidence-based violence prevention and community youth engagement programs, as well as linkages to trauma-informed behavioral health services. 

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Reparations, Repatriation, and Redress Symposium

The goal is to explore whether and to what extent the rubric of “reparations” addresses the continuing inequalities experienced by indigenous communities and multiple communities of color. We plan to explore this topic through panel discussions and the production of an online space to house information, articles and other resources. 


This project provides a participatory theater experience for people of all ages. The theater performance leads to a discussion of issues involving school discipline, race, and educational justice.

Second Chance Saturdays

Having a criminal record can have a significant impact on employment opportunities and other areas of you life. Law students are working with lawyers from the Council on Crime and Justice to conduct workshops for community members who have questions about how to overcome a criminal record. The workshops are at the University’s Robert J. Jones Urban Research Outreach-Engagement Center.

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Slow Roll: Northside on a Roll

Slow Roll empowers people to rediscover, reconnect, and reimagine their communities by bike.  Slow Roll helps to build healthy, economically vibrant, and connected cities.

The Ladder

The Ladder is a club for Northside kids who are interested in health careers. It’s designed to expose kids to health careers through mentoring. The club is inter-generational, with members from fourth grade up through practicing physicians.

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UMN Extension SNAP-Ed

The goal of this project is to improve the public’s understanding of, and access to, healthy living opportunities, such as eating more fruits and vegetables, and increasing physical activity. Through education on health, nutrition, and cooking, low-income community members can improve their health. Changing the landscape so that healthy choices is the easy or default choice in the areas of health and nutrition is another goal.

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University of Minnesota Extension-Hennepin Co. Agriculture and Natural Resources

Hennepin County is a heavily populated urban area but the University of Minnesota Extension is there, working on the environmental and social sustainability aspects of farming and food production.

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University Relations and MPR North Minneapolis Bureau

Minnesota Public Radio and University Relations are in a new partnership to highlight the positive assets of North Minneapolis.

Urban 4-H - North High Science of Agriculture Team

Urban agriculture is a thriving movement in north Minneapolis and provides innovative solutions to social inequities, such as access to fresh and healthy food. This movement is engaging young people as changemakers while providing new career possibilities. Minnesota 4-H is developing community-based partnerships with North Minneapolis to share youth development expertise, agricultural industry connections, and opportunities for youth to showcase their innovative strategies.

Urban Garden Program - Growing Good Minnesota

Growing Good Minnesota is a program that helps teach Northside youth about growing healthy foods and promoting healthy growth. It also teaches life, leadership, and work skills. The program is coordinated by the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum at UROC.

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Urban Youth Development

Urban 4-H provides clubs and programs that help youth discover new interests, develop leadership skills, learn a sense of global citizenship, and consider future possibilities. It’s an approach that helps them carve positive pathways to their future.

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