Community council, MDH award new health equity grants for children
American Indian and communities of color in Minnesota will soon receive additional resources to help preschoolers thrive
August 18, 2020
Working toward greater health equity is a key priority for the State of Minnesota, and a novel partnership with members of American Indian communities and communities of color seeks to accelerate that work with a new grant program focused squarely on improving outcomes for children in these communities.
The Community Solutions for Healthy Child Development grant program is a new approach where members of American Indian communities and members of communities of color play a lead role in selecting grantees based on the needs of children identified in their communities. The grant program will award approximately $1.5 million each year ($750,000 from the Preschool Development Grant) from state fiscal year 2020 through fiscal year 2023. The Minnesota Legislature made the funding available during the 2019 legislative session.
The purposes of the Community Solutions grant program are to:
• Improve child development outcomes related to the well-being of children of color and American Indian children from prenatal to grade three and their families.
• Reduce racial disparities in children’s health and development from prenatal to grade three.
• Promote racial and geographic equity.
“With the Community Solutions fund, we are charting new territory,” said Betty Emarita, the Community Solutions Advisory Council co-chair. “Intentional learning between the public sector and communities of color and American Indian communities can lead to equitable, new growth in the real economy – an essential foundation for healthy, thriving children and families. Over 25% of Minnesota millennials are people of color and American Indian, as are nearly a third of Minnesota children ages 4 and under.” The Minnesota Legislature made the funding available after community organizing and advocacy efforts by groups such as Voices and Choices for Children, which works closely with organizations and people across various public and private sectors to prioritize the voices of organizations, advocates and parents of color and American Indians.
The 12-member Community Solutions Advisory Council had the central role in shaping the grants, reviewing proposals and making funding decisions related to this grant program. The council is comprised of people of various African, Black, Asian-Pacific, Latino, and American Indian heritages and parents from various rural, urban and suburban communities throughout the state. A list of council membership is available on the Community Solutions Advisory Council page on the Minnesota Department of Health website.
The council selected 23 organizations out of 46 applicants to receive the first $1.5 million round of funding. The grantees will be providing various services to the community to improve early childhood development for communities of color and American Indians. Some of the proposed projects include doula support for expecting and postpartum women and families, preschool services, culturally specific home visiting and parental support, parenting classes, connecting community to traditional practices and healing. All the initiatives are in partnership with community and made possible through secular and faith-based community organizations, volunteers and dedicated staff.
The process embedded equity into each step of the review process and funded as many organizations as possible. Available funding was not sufficient to award all the organizations that applied and were worthy of investment. The council used the following criteria to determine which organizations would receive funding:
• Organizations whose board, leadership and staff were each comprised of at least 50% people of color or American Indians.
• Proposals focused on prenatal to age 3.
• Proposals that had a clear and strong focus on promoting racial equity and improving healthy child development outcomes related to the well-being of children of color and American Indian children.
“We are excited about this partnership that puts the know-how and decision making of American Indian and communities of color front and center in our efforts to close racial inequities and give all children a healthy start,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm.
The following organizations were awarded funding:
• African Community Services
• Centro Tyrone Guzman
• Children’s Dental Services
• Comunidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio
• Division of Indian Work
• Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
• Fond du Lac Tribal College
• Hallie Q. Brown Community Center
• Hmong Early Childhood Coalition
• Indigenous Visioning
• Korean Service Center
• La Red de Educacion Temprana
• Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe
• Minnesota CarePartner
• Montessori American Indian Childcare
• Multicultural Autism Action Network
• Network for the Development of Children of African Descent
• Northwest Indian Community Development Center
• Parents in Community Action, INC
• Red Lake Comprehensive Services
• Roots Community Birth Center
• Tserha Aryam Kidist Selassie Church (TAKS)
• Wicoie Nandagikendan