Equity Solutions & Quiz

In a related story we look at some of the statewide issues and policy suggestions stemming from the Minnesota Equity Blueprint, publicly launched February 27, 2020, by Growth & Justice, OneMN.org, and the members of the Thriving by Design Network.

Following is a quiz based on Minnesota data about how we are doing as a state — and a compilation of solutions that women around the state are part of in order to strengthen communities. (This online story includes information not found in our print version.)


QUIZ: Minnesota by the Numbers

  1. In the U.S., Minnesota’s overall poverty rate is tied with Hawaii at 9.5 percent, which is 3rd lowest. However, for Black and Native populations in Minnesota, the poverty rate is among the highest in the country. True or False?
  2. Many counties in Minnesota have a median annual income below $60,000. According to the MIT living wage calculator, an average family of four in Minnesota with some childcare requires a minimum pre-tax annual income of: A) $32,948, B) $54,948, C) $68,948
  3. The average Social Security draw is $17,640 annually, which tends to be 90 percent of an elder’s income, according to the AARP Public Policy Institute. According to the Elder Index, a single Minnesota retiree in decent health aged 65 or older, with a one-bedroom rental, needs how much to live per year: A) $17,992, B) $22,992, C) $25,992
  4. The median income for Minnesotans is $39,234. For Minnesotans with a disability, the median annual income is: A) $20,957, B) $25,957, C) $31,957
  5. The three most affluent counties in Minnesota — as measured by the lowest percentage of households living at federal poverty levels — are: A) Hennepin, Ramsey, and St.Louis, B) Scott, Washington, and Carver; C) Winona, Dakota, and Beltrami

Source: Numbers are derived from data in the Minnesota Equity Blueprint. See answers below.


CHILDCARE: One Funded Approach

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) Job Vacancy Survey in 2018 reported 1,189 child care worker vacancies — a vacancy rate of 10.3 percent — and a median annual income of $12.45.

A 2018 study by Wilder Research and the Center for Rural Policy and Development found that many Duluth parents would be working if they could find affordable child care. This could result in $8.1 million of potential new earnings within the area.

In response, Betty George, chair of an investment fund, announced the 1200 Fund would allocate $500,000 to help child-care providers start or grow their businesses.

According to Elaine Wyatt, CEO of WomenVenture: “For many women, particularly those who do not own a home, access to a child-care business is very challenging due to the high cost of space and the possibility of incurring additional cost to modify space to meet licensing requirements. WomenVenture is working on an affordable space solution, where women can use their family license and access affordable space that is license-ready. The goal of this initiative is to provide much needed slots to the market while supporting women in leading childcare business that produce a net profit of $45,000-$50,000 a year.”

WomenVenture also is developing a program to help child-care providers increase income to $20 per hour.


BUSINESS FINANCING: Cooperative Capital

One local group offers financing nationwide to cooperative businesses and housing. According to board member Julie Ristau, Shared Capital Cooperative focuses on providing financing to create wealth in low-income and economically disadvantaged communities.

The group was founded in 1978 by Twin Cities leaders who were frustrated by the challenges local co-ops faced in getting bank financing. To ensure access to capital, they pooled money to start a loan fund. In 2018, 83 percent of its lending went to co-ops by and for women, people of color, and low-income communities.

“With funding sourced from cooperatives and their allies, we offer capital that aligns with cooperative values and supports democratic ownership,” says Ristau.


GROWTH: Welcoming Strategy in Central Minnesota

submitted by Cheryal Lee Hills

The competition to attract talent to Greater Minnesota is paramount to survival. The young and culturally diverse workforce tends to flock to urban areas.

I am the executive director of the Region Five Development Commission (R5DC), which is positioned in the central part   of the state — Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, Todd, and Wadena counties. Because this is one of the state’s most homogenous and least culturally and racially diverse regions, we have created a Welcoming Communities program to directly address this liability.

We are working to increase cultural agility and to welcome a more diverse workforce.

We received funding to support the continued learning and action of eight communities who had engaged diverse representation of private, public, non-profit, student, and historically underrepresented residents. These Welcoming Community Advocacy Groups received $10,000 each to create a physical project that offers systems change and exhibits its welcoming culture.

There has been pushback, such as picketing, from some residents who are fearful of the focus on diverse populations. Yet our regional partners are fully invested in building equitable economic ecosystems to reduce barriers to low-income and minority citizens.

In Central Minnesota, our language is changing, our curiosity is piqued, and our hope is that this work influences other organizations to impact systems and improve our state’s economic prosperity for all.

Details: regionfive.org/welcoming-communities


Answers to quiz: 1) True, at 11th and 9th highest respectively; 2) C; 3) B; 4) A; 5) B