Neighborhood & Community Relations

Crown Roller Mill, Room 425
105 5th Avenue South 
Minneapolis, MN 55401
(612) 673-3737

Blueprint for Equitable Engagement

The Blueprint for Equitable Engagement is a multi-year strategic action plan to ensure an equitable community engagement system for the City of Minneapolis.

Vision: Innovative, just and fair engagement that connects residents and government to achieve the One Minneapolis goal: Disparities are eliminated so all Minneapolis residents can participate and prosper.

Background: Equity will only result from community engagement that actively seeks participation based on just and fair inclusion of those impacted by decision-making. For the purposes of the Blueprint, we are using the following City definition of equity:

Equity: Fair and just opportunities and outcomes for all people.

Racial Equity: the development of policies, practices and strategic investments to reverse racial disparity trends, eliminate institutional racism, and ensure that outcomes and opportunities for all people are no longer predictable by race.

The city of Minneapolis is growing and becoming more diverse, requiring expanding and creative practices of inclusive participation and community engagement. To eliminate inequities, the City and community must work together to create a city that provides abundant opportunities for everyone.Inclusive and equitable participation meets people where they are to ensure that all community voices are sought and valued and that decisions reflect the communities which they impact. The Blueprint for Equitable Engagement will promote aMHNA_NNOPhotond support inclusive participation in the City’s community engagement work:

1. Neighborhood organizations: The Neighborhood and Community Relations Department (NCR) will promote and support neighborhood organizations’ outreach efforts for inclusion and to ensure that neighborhood board decision-making processes are fair and that use of resources is equitable and inclusive. The City will include the 70 neighborhood organizations as partners in addressing racial disparities in our community.

2. City’s board and commissions: NCR and the Neighborhood & Community Engagement Commission (NCEC) will promote and support the work of City to meet its goal of having the advisory and planning boards and commissions reflect the diversity of the community.

3. City enterprise outreach and engagement. NCR and NCEC will promote and support the community engagement efforts of City departments and connect this work with the efforts stated above.

Draft Objectives

Objective 1: Neighborhoods 2020: Clarify Role and Expectations of Neighborhood Organizations with Measurable Performance Standards
The role of neighborhood organizations has not substantially changed for over 20 years. As the city has become more diverse and the issues and opportunities have changed, it is time to review the role of neighborhood organizations. In addition, in order to be effective, neighborhood organizations must have strong and positive relationships, recruit and develop new leadership, and preserve their integrity with the community, other agencies and elected officials. The City will review its expectations, roles and supportive services for neighborhood organizations.

2. Update/develop supportive policy framework

3. Encourage and incentivize equitable and creative community engagement and cultural outreach through financial and program funding.

Objective 2: Expand Cultural Engagement Strategies with Defined Outcomes
Promote and support engagement strategies to reach and include impacted under-represented groups. Understand and value the roles of various community organizations or engagement systems and to identify gaps or opportunities for growth and innovation.


  1. Expand successful cultural engagement strategies comprehensively across all racial and under-represented communities. Current engagement efforts with NCR (Latino, African American, American Indian, SE Asian, East African, Seniors and People with Disabilities) need to have consistent levels of success.
  2. Integrate existing NCR programs and staff to better align and support engagement work of neighborhood organizations, cultural communities and the City enterprise.
  3. Support a learning culture of community engagement that allows risk taking, challenging of assumptions, measurement and assessment.
  4. Recognize the value of cultural engagement at the same level as neighborhood organizations.

Objective 3: Increase Capacity of Community Engagement with Community Partnerships
Community partnerships are vital. Strengthening and supporting partnerships with other organizations with a similar vision and values will provide new capacity, insight and creative opportunities to align resources for greater collective impact. 


  1. Expand partnership with CURA to align resources and programming.
  2. Expand partnerships with funders to align resources and programming such as McKnight, Minneapolis Foundation, etc.
  3. Support and expand leadership development programs for communities of color with community partners:
    a. Expand One Minneapolis Fund.
    b. Support partnerships with leadership development programs for communities of color such as the Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute.
  4. Seek out and support grant opportunities for new or existing initiatives.

Objective 4: Ensure a Value- and Principle-Based Community Engagement Approach for the City Enterprise
The City’s community engagement work needs to support the goals and values adopted by the City Council and the Principles of Community Engagement.


  1. Provide training and support for the spectrum of engagement
    1. IAP2 Training/Core Principles of Community Engagement
    2. Cultural context training
    3. Interdepartmental community engagement liaison network (LEP, ADA and engagement support).
  2. Examine board and commission operating practices from a cultural context and make recommendations that support sustaining greater diversity.
  3. Increase accessibility of City meetings (time and location)
  4. Support City Clerk’s office with policy and ordinance changes that recruit, train and appoint people of color, including people with disabilities to city advisory boards to ensure accurate representation of the city’s diverse communities
  5. Evaluate current engagement practices of City departments and make recommendations on improvements

Objective 5: Evaluate and Celebrate Progress
There is a clear need to expand the community engagement evaluation techniques and ensure that information and data collected is used to both to communicate the impact of the work and to further support improvements.


  1. Establish and support an independent, peer-supported recognition system that celebrates best practices among neighborhood organizations.
  2. Expand the reporting mechanisms for neighborhood work that effectively report on their community activities, engagement and outreach work.
  3. Identify new measures for tracking community engagement activity.
  4. Conduct periodic evaluations of the community engagement work utilizing external and independent program evaluators.
  5. Incorporate recommendations from the neighborhood program evaluation (2015).

New Engagement Tools: Creative CityMaking:

The Blueprint for Equitable Engagement is part of the Creative CityMaking (CCM) program funded by a grant from Kresge Foundation. CCM is an arts-based innovation initiative that pairs staff in City of Minneapolis departments with experienced community artists to advance the City’s One Minneapolis goal. These collaborations between City staff and artists are in support of the following goals:

The collaborative work produced by the teams will be showcased throughout the year at community meetings, citywide community events, and will culminate in a public exhibition. In addition, artists and City personnel will meet throughout the year in a series of participant convenings, where they will exchange ideas, share progress, and learn about effective cross-sector partnership.

For the Blueprint for Equitable Engagement, we have identified the following deliverables:

  1. Development of and training for creative cultural engagement techniques that engage city residents where cultural norms, practices, beliefs or language has limited connection with traditional city community engagement. These techniques should be delivered to and implemented by neighborhood organizations;
  2. Materials and/or techniques that help message the Blueprint work, values and strategies in a way that is straightforward, inviting and disarming for residents of varied background and cultures (see below: a higher-level, visually friendly, less wordy format that lets people know the scope, value and what success looks like).

Work completed to date:

  1. Streamlined Appointment Process for City Boards and Commissions: A restructuring of the City’s appointment process timing to have all open appointments to be made twice per year.
  2. Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute (BCLI) Partnership: A partnership with Nexus Community Partners directly supporting leadership development within communities of color for appointment on City boards and commissions.
  3. Boards and Commissions Diversity Surveys (2009, 2012, 2014): A voluntary survey measuring numerous diversity indicators for our City’s boards and commissions.
  4. Neighborhood Board Survey (2014): The first voluntary survey of the diversity of neighborhood boards. CCC2014Conference
  5. Annual Community Connections Conferences: An annual conference of neighborhood and community organizations supporting broader education, engagement and connections with the City enterprise.
  6. City Academy: A five-week course where residents can learn about City operations and programs. Participants are encouraged to consider joining City boards or neighborhood organizations.
  7. One Minneapolis Fund: A small grant program supporting leadership development and cultural engagement through non-profit partnerships.
  8. Minnesota Dream Act: Working in partnership with the Latino community, the City co-created an engagement strategy that led to the passage of the Minnesota Dream Act, allowing access to higher education to thousands of Minneapolis residents.
  9. ADA Program and Service Evaluation (2015): Underway now, this evaluation will examine the City’s ADA status and lead to a transition plan that increases accessibility of City services and programs.

Focus group discussions:

The Blueprint For Equitable Engagement is being developed in accordance to the City’s adopted Core Principles of Engagement. The Blueprint is being developed with an engagement strategy that utilizes both internal and community expertise. Continued development of the Blueprint will include community dialogue to inform strategy and tactics, while expanding partnerships in this area of work. The following is a list of upcoming focus groups discussions. Additional focus groups may be added after completing the following:

Themes: Hundreds of comments and notes were taken at the aforementioned Focus Group Discussions. Listed below are the general themes that emerged from all of the conversations:


The Blueprint for Equitable Engagement is intended to be a multi-year strategy. It is important to recognize the urgency of the situation balanced with a sustainable approach. Timeline is currently being developed.

Next Steps:

Baseline Data

Boards and Commission Diversity Survey: Boards and commissions represent a key component of community engagement activities in regard to City actions and decision making. Every two years, the NCR department survey's members of our boards and commissions to measure progress.

2015 Neighborhood Board Diversity Survey Report: The 2015 Neighborhood Organization Board Diversity Survey is the first survey conducted by NCR to examine the demographic makeup of neighborhood organization boards. The survey design and analysis is intended to (1) create a baseline and characterize as accurately as possible the current makeup of neighborhood organization boards, (2) provide a basis for recommendations, (3) identify possible questions for further study.

Blueprint for Equitable Engagement Steering Committee members:


Last updated Aug 19, 2015