Neighborhood and Community Relations (NCR) staff connect the community to the City and the City to the community. NCR fosters public participation and meaningful engagement of all residents by removing barriers and creating equitable access to City programs, services and the decision making process.
The Neighborhood and Community Relations department is driven by the philosophy, “When residents are informed, connected to their community and feel represented in City government, they are empowered to influence decisions that impact their lives.” NCR joins together the complex web of neighborhoods, communities and cultures that comprise Minneapolis with strategies and programs in three categories:
- Community Engagement and Access: The department builds connections with communities where cultural norms or practices, language or disabilities limit knowledge and access to government.
- Enterprise Support: The department supports connections between neighborhoods, community and cultural groups and City departments to inform programming, service delivery and budgeting.
- Neighborhood Support: The department focuses on nurturing neighborhood engagement through neighborhood-based priority setting, planning and implementation; and the integration of this work with the City
About Community Engagement
The City of Minneapolis defines the primary purpose of community engagement as the empowerment of people to influence City government decisions that shape their city and their lives. Of course, community building, outreach and education activities are also important to the City.
In 2002, the Mayor and City Council adopted a set of citywide goals and expectations (update in 2014) that articulate the City’s commitment to community engagement (see Reports related to Community Engagement 2002 – 2006).
In 2006, following a thorough study of best practices, Minneapolis begun to formalize its community engagement activities. A three-track work plan that addresses the multiple facets of the City’s community engagement system was approved by the City Council in May 2007.
The City of Minneapolis is well on its way to bring the City’s community engagement system into its next generation, including finding clear ways to support what is currently working and explore new ideas to enhance what’s being done.
Why is it important to engage the community?
Community engagement refers to the many ways in which the City connects with its residents and communities in the development and implementation of policies, programs, and services. It is the process of working collaboratively with the community to address issues affecting their lives.
Furthermore, Engagement acknowledges the right of residents to have a say and to get involved in the business of government. The City recognizes that the community is a valuable source of expertise to influence government decisions that improve the quality and delivery of public services.
What are the benefits of Community Engagement?
The City of Minneapolis is committed to engaging our community. We recognize that an engaged community offers:
- Greater diversity of views expressed
- Strong, sustainable outcomes
- Mutual learning among participants
- Previously unknown special needs may be addressed
- Improved relationship with community
- Mutual respect among stakeholders
Core Principles of Community Engagement
- Right to be involved – Public participation is based on the belief that those who are affected by a decision have a right to be involved in the decision-making process.
- Contribution will be thoughtfully considered - Public participation includes the promise that the public's contribution will be thoughtfully considered.
- Recognize the needs of all - Public participation promotes sustainable decisions by recognizing and communicating the needs and interests of all participants, including decision-makers.
- Seek out involvement - Public participation seeks out and facilitates the involvement of those potentially affected by or interested in a decision.
- Participants design participation - Public participation seeks input from participants in designing how they participate.
- Adequate information - Public participation provides participants with the information they need to participate in a meaningful way.
- Known effect of participation - Public participation communicates to participants how their input affected the decision.
Copyright IAP2. All rights reserved. Adopted by Minneapolis City Council, December 2007
How can I stay informed about community engagement?
Sign up to receive e-mail updates from the Neighborhood and Community Relations Department.
NCR's Results: The Blueprint for Equitable Engagement
The Blueprint for Equitable Engagement is a five-year plan spanning from 2015 to 2020 that ensures that the City of Minneapolis engagement system is equitable. Equitable community engagement promotes participation of all Minneapolis residents in the City's decision-making process and keeps all communities well-informed. NCR uses the Blueprint for Equitable Engagement as a guide to achieve the department’s mission of “engaging communities for a better Minneapolis.” Inclusive and equitable participation is critical to achieve the One Minneapolis goal.
Progress is tracked by comparing the eight diversity factors of age, gender, disability, sexual orientation, renter/owner, race/ethnicity, income and education of people participating to citywide demographics. Success will be defined as the collective results being within 80% of the citywide demographic benchmark. Presently, the City of Minneapolis completes a voluntary Boards and Commissions Diversity Survey and a Neighborhood Board Survey to gather this data. These surveys will be refined and bolstered. Additional measures that include a wider range of engagement activities will also be developed.
- See how NCR's work has improved commission diversity, language access and community connections on our dashboard.
How NCR Supports Community Engagement
Community Connections Learning Labs - Offers trainings to expand understanding of equitable community engagement. Helps participants discover best practices and avoid common pitfalls. Teaches techniques that follow the City of Minneapolis’ Core Principles of Community Engagement based on the International Association of Public Participation (IAP2). Expands understanding of the many different cultural communities in Minneapolis and teaches historical beginnings, cultural norms and community contacts to enhance engagement to underrepresented groups.
Americans with Disabilities Act - Provides information to neighborhoods, community organizations and City departments on how to provide equal access to programs, services and activities for people with disabilities.
Language Access Plan - Consults City of Minneapolis Departments on interpretation, translation and engagement strategies to effectively relay information to non-to-limited English speaking residents. This may include the use of video, radio, TV, as well as print. NCR can help determine where an agency’s money is best spent. NCR also provides oversight of language contracts and assists with accuracy of translated materials and equipment for face to face interpretation. To request translation of documents or in person interpreters City departments can use the language access portal on City Talk.
Cultural Engagement – Builds connections with communities where cultural norms or practices, language or disabilities limit knowledge and access to government. NCR staff directly engages the African American, Southeast Asian, Latino, American Indian and East African communities as well as LGBT, senior and disabled individuals.
Public Service Announcements
City Department Engagement Planning - NCR advises City of Minneapolis departments on community engagement plans for various issues, projects, policies and programs. Examples are: Safe and Sick Time Ordinance, Minimum Wage Ordinance, Police Body Cameras, Green Zones, CLIC, Comprehensive Plan Update (Minneapolis 2040) and much more. Each community is different and NCR staff can help tailor strategies to have the most effective reach.
City Boards and Commissions – NCR provides outreach and awareness to neighborhood and cultural communities for the spring and fall cycles of the boards and commissions streamlined process. NCR also works closely with the Clerk’s office on general boards and commissions related information. NCR provides staff support to 4 City boards and Commissions.
Monthly Newsletters – The Minneapolis Connects is produced monthly and provides updates about the work of the NCR department as well as other important City information to a contact list of over 2,000 people.
Community Connections Conference – Annual conference that brings together the community, neighborhoods, cultural organizations and City departments to network, learn and tackle important issues facing Minneapolis.
City Academy – This is a yearly program that runs for 5 weeks and is intended to give residents interested in getting involved in City government a quick overview of how the City functions.
Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) - NCR staff assists neighborhood organizations with remaining NRP funds in managing those funds and expending them according to their neighborhood plans. This includes setting up contracts with City departments and various other government and non-profit agencies.
One Minneapolis Fund, Community Innovation Fund (CIF) and Community Participation Program (CPP) - NCR manages program eligibility, guidelines, award decisions and reimbursement requests. The NCR staff works with grantees to make sure that program guidelines and funding requirements are followed.
Surveys and Reports
City Board and Commission Diversity Survey - The City benefits from the volunteer efforts of about five hundred residents who serve on more than fifty appointed advisory boards and commissions. These boards and commissions represent a key component of community engagement activities in regard to City actions and decision making. In order to be effective in their work, and truly represent the many interest of the city’s residents, membership on the City’s boards and commissions should reflect the people in our city. The Neighborhood and Community Relations department works with the City Clerk and the City Council to ensure that the boards and commissions represent the diversity Minneapolis residents.
Neighborhood Board Diversity Survey - The City benefits from the volunteer efforts of about seven hundred residents who serve on seventy neighborhood boards. These boards and sub-committees represent a key component of community engagement activities in regard to City actions and decision making. In order to be effective in their work, and truly represent the many interest of the city’s residents, membership on neighborhood boards should reflect the people in our city. The Neighborhood and Community Relations department completes the neighborhood board diversity survey every two years.
Neighborhood Programs Annual Report - The Minneapolis Neighborhood Programs Annual Report is a consolidated report of all the individual Neighborhood CPP annual reports. Organizations report on their activities to reach underrepresented communities, communicate with residents, host meetings and events, and work on the neighborhood priorities. This consolidated report summarizes the work and accomplishments of the funded neighborhood organizations.
Resident Survey - The Minneapolis Resident Survey is a key way the City engages people in City government. The City conducts surveys of its residents on a regular basis to get their perspectives about the quality of service the City provides. Information collected from surveys is used to compare with the previous survey results and helps track City departments’ performance.
The Minneapolis City Council created the Neighborhood and Community Relations department (NCR) in 2010 to serve as a resource department supporting the City’s community engagement efforts and a broad vision of community engagement. One of NCR's initial charges was to assume responsibility for administration of the Neighborhood Revitalization Program, a program established in 1991 with the goal of reversing the decay and increasing blight of the City’s neighborhoods and loss of population. (PDF)
Last updated Mar 4, 2019