Our Policy work spans all three of our focus areas.
In November 2014, Youthprise began a partnership with the Humphrey School of Public Affairs to build capacity around our public policy efforts, with the goal of making racial equity a focal point of all our policy work. To help realize this vision, Karen Kingsley, Director of Public Policy and Communications, hired a research assistant from the Humphrey School for an academic year. In partnership with YWCA Minneapolis, which served as an advisor on the project, the team worked to complete the project.
Disparities based on race exist for young people in Minnesota; they include unequal access to opportunities like employment and healthcare, differing treatment in the classroom and on the sidewalk, and lopsided rates of juvenile detention and incarceration. In all walks of life, young people of color face obstacles based on race that their white counterparts do not. Additionally, intersecting identities like gender, citizenship, sexual orientation, class, and ability shape the experiences of youth of color in overlapping ways. Forces behind structural racism and implicit bias allow these racial disparities to endure and adapt over time.
In public policy advocacy, we mobilize the voice of Youthprise partners, grantees and youth to advocate for public policies that:
A key collaborator in Youthprise’s public policy work is Ignite Afterschool, Minnesota’s statewide afterschool network. Youthprise serves on Ignite’s Strategic Leadership Team and complements its policy efforts through our own policy advocacy. Youthprise shares Ignite’s top policy priority of increasing public funding for afterschool and summer learning programs.
The Minnesota Youth Council (MYC) is another important policy partner. The MYC is a strategic partnership between Youthprise and theMinnesota Alliance With Youth. A representative statewide body of 36 youth and their adult mentors, the MYC advises the Minnesota Legislature and Minnesota Department of Education on policy issues affecting youth. They host MYC Committee meetings at the Capitol each year where legislators come to present their bills for consideration.
Ignite Afterschool and MYC play a leadership role in organizing the annual Youth Day at the Capitol, which brings more than 1,000 youth and adults to the Minnesota Capitol to highlight youth policy issues and hold meetings with legislators.
The K-12 Education Tax Credit covers 75% of the cost of out-of-school time activities for low-income students, but it is woefully underutilized. The process for claiming it is cumbersome, and the income limit hasn’t increased in over two decades. Youthprise has proposed changes that would reduce the number of steps to claim the credit by at least half making it easier for families to use this valuable tool. We also have introduced legislation to increase the income limit and benchmark it to Free and Reduced Lunch eligibility bringing it in line with other state programs of its kind.
Youthprise has introduced legislation to create a sales tax exemption for sales of prepared food to nonprofit organizations that sponsor or manage meals through the federal meals program. The money these nonprofits currently pay in sales tax could instead be used to expand their programs and serve more meals to more youth. Only prepared food purchased from a caterer or other business under contract with the nonprofit and used directly in the federal meals program would qualify for the exemption.
This legislation led by Ignite Afterschool will establish a competitive grant program in Minnesota for afterschool and summer programs serving low-income youth with enrichment activities similar to 21st Century Community Learning Centers.
This legislation led by the Fueled for Learning Coalition, of which Youthprise is a part, will increase access to nutritious breakfast for Minnesota’s learners by maximizing convenience and overcoming barriers to participation.
United for Action, a group supported by Youthprise, and the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless are working together to pursue legislation to reduce youth and family homelessness. Youthprise is proud to endorse this work to ensure every young person has a place to call home.
A report completed by research assistant Britt Heinz-Amborn documents that process and is her contribution to the racial equity work that Youthprise will continue to develop. The report offers definitions, explains the policy problem, and includes a brief review of racial equity initiatives across the U.S. It explains implications for the work at Youthprise, the field of expanded learning/out-of-school time, and for the work of racial equity across Minnesota.
As we worked to develop a racial equity policy lens, a few organizations influenced our thinking: Greenlining Institute and Race Forward. They explain that advancing racial equity must be intentional. Both had developed a set of questions to examine the policy process through a racial equity lens. Youthprise has adapted a racial equity assessment tool as a product of this project. This tool can guide a decision-making process, analyze an existing policy, and elicit meaningful understanding of how race, culture, and class have been considered (or not). We encourage our partners to utilize this tool as we all work to advance racial equity so we can realize a world where all Minnesota youth thrive.