ACER African Career, Education & Resource Wed, 10 Jun 2020 16:00:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 To Our Community Wed, 27 May 2020 15:59:32 +0000 Dear Community,
How are you doing in this moment? Today at ACER, we chose to spend our workday checking on each other. The work we were called to today, was to mourn and to share our feelings of grief and sorrow together. The soul of a Black man was stolen in broad day light by people who are entrusted to serve and protect. The death of George Floyd has left me sorrowful.
Yesterday, I missed two meetings that I was supposed to Chair. I had spent the whole day preparing myself to be brave to chair these meetings because the committees do important work. This was in between fielding phone calls from community members and allies about the police killing. What are you planning to do about it? Is a constant question I have been asked. As an organization, we were made aware by our partners of a protest they were planning. We chose to support the protest. I also received calls from a few youths in the community who wanted to attend the protest and wanted me to take them. I debated this for 2 seconds because of my impending obligations. Then I remembered how on April 4th, 1999 as a young immigrant college student, still very new in this country when Amadou Diallo, a young Guinean immigrant was brutally murdered by the New York police for standing in front of his apartment building. I recalled how I felt so scared and confused. I lived in a lily-white neighborhood, went to a predominantly white school, and had no one to process these feelings with me. I was told New York is crazy. It could never happen in Minnesota. Minnesota is a ‘nice’ place. I was told it was a one-off incident. A mistake.
Fast forward to today, post Trayvon Martin, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Jamar Clark, Philando Castile, we are mourning George Floyd.  I chose to support our youths to help them process their feelings of insecurity, confusion, righteous anger, outrage, fear and outpouring of love for this gentleman that they did not know, but also know in so many other ways. George Floyd is all of us Black in Minnesota. I also chose to listen to them as a first-generation Black immigrants who are born and raised here, whose struggles I can empathize with, but know I can never fully comprehend.
Here is what I am choosing to do as a Black African mother. I am choosing to listen to our youth and support them as they take on leadership roles in addressing issues that impact their community. Here are 2 examples of how you can join me today.
1. Join Collins Oppong’s podcast today at 4:30 p.m. as he discusses this issue.
2.  President Jael Kerandi – a young Kenyan lady and the President of the University of     Minnesota’s Student’s Council has taken a stand and is calling on the University of     Minnesota to action! Please take the time to read her statement and sign her petition.
3. Share these opportunities and more ideas with others. Let us keep this conversation and     action going in our community.
 In Love and Solidarity,
Nelima Sitati Munene
Executive Director, ACER, Inc.
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Nelima Sitati Munene is shifting the housing narrative Mon, 11 May 2020 19:50:05 +0000

This was originally posted on Family Housing Fund on May 11, 2020

Nelima Sitati Munene is shifting the housing narrative

Nelima Sitati Munene was a college student living in Brooklyn Park when she received a knock on her apartment door from a community organizer who wanted to know how she felt about a proposal to demolish an apartment complex in her neighborhood. It was the first time Nelima had heard of the proposal – and when she learned of a narrative that she says blamed renters for instability in their community.

“A decision was made about my neighbors and where I lived without talking to me,” she says. That’s when she realized local decision-making needed to be centered around people and informed by the community.

Now, as the Executive Director of African Career, Education, and Resource (ACER) in the northwest suburbs, Nelima works in community and civic engagement to advance equity in areas of entrepreneurship, transportation, health, education, and housing. As the COVID-19 pandemic deepens housing insecurity issues in the Twin Cities and throughout the state, she is leading ACER’s advocacy for much-needed rental assistance.

Nelima says housing is her passion because “at the heart of housing is intersectionality. Housing is the starting point for all else. Where you live determines where you work, where your children go to school, everything.”

Through ACER, Nelima is fostering relationships between community members and local government. “We need to bring forward the voice of the most impacted to define the issue first,” she says. “Then we need to ensure community members participate in co-creating solutions to the issues by helping the community build agency and by ensuring they have the right tools to participate.”

ACER has worked with City Councils in Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Crystal, New Hope, and Robbinsdale to advocate for tenant protections and other policies that advance equity. And, as the government body on the ground, closest to the community, she believes City Councils have a unique role to play in housing solutions. For instance, after hearing from ACER, the City of Brooklyn Park City Council set aside $5 million for the preservation of naturally occurring affordable housing (NOAH).

Nelima is particularly proud of the role ACER recently played in the preservation of Brooklyn Park’s Huntington Place, an apartment complex of 834 units of NOAH. A property with significant habitability issues – and just a half mile down the road from the apartment complex whose demolition originally sparked Nelima’s interest in housing years ago – Huntington Place was put up for sale after its owner was pushed to make quality improvements.

Through deep community engagement, ACER learned that the residents of Huntington Place wanted to stay in their apartments but wanted housing conditions and safety to improve. After organizing and advocacy from a coalition of preservation-minded advocates, Aeon bought the apartments with the help of a $5 million loan from the City of Brooklyn Park – the same funds ACER convinced the City to put aside for NOAH preservation years ago. Now, Aeon, a nonprofit housing manager, is committed to slowly renovating the building without displacing tenants.

For Nelima, this is a huge win for housing solutions that prioritize community voices. “We fail when we talk about housing from only an infrastructure perspective. It needs to be people-centered,” she says. “We need to change the narrative of housing from a commodity to a human right.”

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#CancelRent May Day Action Thu, 30 Apr 2020 16:14:42 +0000 For many of us, the COVID-19 crisis has turned our homes into sanctuaries for our health and safety and our community’s safety. As we enter into the second month of health/financial crisis, it is more important than ever that we take action to protect our homes and communities. Thousands across the state were unable to make rent or mortgages on April 1st, and now even more are unable to pay rent or mortgages on May 1st. We are inviting you to take action as part of the ACER community to join us because we see that this pandemic is bigger than any of us can face alone.

We are joining our partners with Inquilinxs Unidxs Por Justicia/United Renters For Justice and are calling on Governor Tim Walz, the Minnesota legislature and US Bank to cancel all rent, mortgage and utility payments and guarantee homes for all. During this moment of crisis, we know we must take action to make sure that thousands of Minnesotans do not face stifling debt.

Join us and in calling for #CancelRent #CancelMortgages and guaranteeing #HomesForAll!
On May Day we will be holding a high-energy, socially distanced, car rally and caravan! In honor of international worker’s rights day, and for the first of the month, we will be calling on US Bank, Gov Tim Walz and the Minnesota legislature to #CancelRent #CancelMortgages and guarantee #HomesForAll. The car caravan will start at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis at 12pm on May 1st and go to the Governor’s mansion in St Paul. Facebook event:

**Taking Action While Remaining Socially Distanced: For the safety of our community and everyone participating in this action, we ask that you only participate while still observing social distancing and the current stay at home order that is in place in Minnesota. There will be many ways to participate online! If you are sick, we encourage you to please stay home and take action online. Please join by car or bike (maintaining a 6 feet distance from everyone at all times) and please only join a car with people you are already quarantined with. During the action marshals will help remind everyone to stay in their cars and to stay 6 feet apart from others. If you have a face mask, we recommend you wear it as an extra precaution and safety measure for everyone**

With your help, we can ensure that thousands of Minnesotans get the relief we need during this moment of crisis and prevent thousands from going into stifling debt. We look forward to seeing you, from a distance, on May Day!

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Learn how to deal with your landlord Sat, 04 Apr 2020 04:59:27 +0000 Learn how to deal with your landlord

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ACER and the StarLite Shopping Center demonstration project Wed, 08 Aug 2018 21:26:18 +0000

Community powered planning

Bringing people together to shape the Bottineau corridor

Read the story
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Making Transit Meaningful: A Profile of ACER’s Community Engagement along the Bottineau Corridor Fri, 22 Jun 2018 11:30:39 +0000
03 April, 2012

The Alliance for Metropolitan Stability profiled ACER’s work to mobilize African immigrants, African Americans, and other communities of color to become active voices on transit issues that impact their everyday lives.

Read the story
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Equity in Place: How ACER and Partners are Shaping Investment in the Twin Cities Region Fri, 22 Jun 2018 11:27:38 +0000
01 June, 2016

ACER is a member of the Equity in Place coalition, a diverse group of strategic partners from place-based, housing, and advocacy organizations. We believe that everyone in the Twin Cities region deserves to live where they want to live and have access to opportunity. Our region benefits from many assets, but we continue to be unable to translate these benefits to everyone, specifically to communities of color. Equity in Place engages community-based organizations in influencing planning and investments that is shaping the future of the Twin Cities region.

Read about our work
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Equity in Place: Why Communities of Color Challenged a Fair Housing Complaint and What We Learned Fri, 22 Jun 2018 11:23:38 +0000
01 April, 2017

ACER is a member of the Equity in Place coalition, which challenged a Fair Housing complaint that alleged that the Twin Cities region was using federal housing funding to concentrate affordable housing in high-poverty communities. Over the past year, we asserted pressure to ensure the voices of communities of color will influence how federal housing funds are invested in the Twin Cities region. What we learned can benefit other organizers, advocates, and funders who are thinking about how to build power to create more equitable investments and outcomes for communities of color.

Read About what we learned
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Planning for Food Justice in Brooklyn Park Fri, 22 Jun 2018 11:17:51 +0000
21 May, 2017

This article from the University of Minnesota features ACER’s work to assess barriers to leading healthy lifestyles through a listening project in Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center. Focus groups with residents of various ethnic backgrounds revealed that accessing healthy, affordable, and culturally relevant food is a significant challenge for many Brooklyn Park residents.

Read the article
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ACER and Parents Push for Osseo School Board Changes Fri, 22 Jun 2018 11:08:32 +0000
04 October, 2017

ACER is a member of the Northwest Labor and Community Collaborative. The Collaborative initiated the Communities United for Strong Schools and Local Representation. Together, we are working with parents and community members to advocate for changes to the Osseo Area School Board elections process. The Board currently has six at large seats.  ACER and our partners on the campaign want to see board seats allocated by geographic districts, which would help ensure that a more diverse pool of residents could win competitive school board campaigns.

Read the article
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