Promise Zone: Grants and Updates

City of Minneapolis and Promise Zone

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March 9, 2017

Minneapolis Promise Zone Wordmark

In this edition of Minneapolis Promise Zone Updates: 

  • Spotlight Grants: Economic Development and Employment
  • Feature Story: Transit-Oriented Development Offers Affordable Housing and Amenities in North Minneapolis 
  • Data, News, and Events 
  • Recent Federal Grant and Partnership Opportunities 
  • About the Minneapolis Promise Zone

Spotlight Grants: Economic Development and Employment 

HHS Community Economic Development Projects Grants

Note: This is a grant forecast; the application is expected to open on or about March 17.

Description: Projects that align with Promise Zones are encouraged. The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Office of Community Services (OCS) will award approximately $27.2 million in Community Economic Development (CED) discretionary grant funds for well-planned, financially viable, and innovative projects to enhance job creation and business development for individuals with low-income.

Eligibility: Applicant must meet three conditions. The CDC designation does not need to be specified on any official documents as long as the three requirements stated below are met:

1. Applicant must be a private, non-profit CDC with 501(c)(3) status;

2. Applicant must have articles of incorporation or bylaws demonstrating that the CDC has as a principal purpose the planning, developing, or managing of low-income housing or community economic development activities; and

3. The Board of Directors must have representation from each of the following: community residents, business leaders, and civic leaders.

Faith-based and community organizations that meet the eligibility requirements are eligible to receive awards under this funding opportunity announcement. Faith-based organizations are encouraged to review the ACF Policy on Grants to Faith-Based Organizations at:


The grants below are likely to be eligible for additional PZ discretionary scoring points and/or are encouraging PZs to apply. For more information on applying for Minneapolis Promise Zone (MPZ) preference for specific grants such as these, please visit:  

Refugee Microenterprise Development

HHS: Department of Health and Human Services

Additional grant opportunities are available at the bottom of this update

Commons at Penn includes 13 one-bedroom unites, 21 two-bedroom units, and 13 three-bedroom units

Transit-Oriented Development Offers Affordable Housing and Amenities in North Minneapolis 

Article provided by HUD User, PD&R Edge Home

In January 2016, developer Building Blocks held the grand opening for the Commons at Penn Avenue, a mixed-use development served by several current and planned public transportation lines in the Willard-Hay neighborhood of north Minneapolis. All 47 units at Commons at Penn are affordable to households earning up to 50 percent of the area median income, and the development offers after-school and summer programs for resident youth. The development is also bringing fresh food to an under-served neighborhood with a grocery store, Wirth Co-op, in the building's first floor.

Affordable Housing for North Minneapolis

Commons at Penn fulfills the affordable housing and community development vision of Devean George, founder and executive director of Building Blocks and a former basketball player with the Los Angeles Lakers who grew up in North Minneapolis. In 2014, George purchased two city-owned parcels at the southwestern corner of the intersection of Penn and Golden Valley Road. The developer combined those with three adjacent parcels already owned by Building Blocks to create a site large enough to accommodate its first development, a 34,000-square-foot, 4-story, mixed-use building. According to Scott Anderson, principal at Green Tree Consulting and a consultant for Commons at Penn, Building Blocks conducted door-to-door neighborhood outreach and coordinated with the Northside Residents Redevelopment Council, a nonprofit neighborhood organization, to ensure that the development met community needs.

Read more

Promise Zone Data

MN Compass Minneapolis Promise Zone Specific Data

The link above leads to the Minneapolis Promise Zone(MPZ) data set from MN Compass. MN Compass partnered with our Data Collection and Evaluation VISTA, Sharin Tellez, to draw MPZ specific data. The MPZ specific boundary allows us to have accurate and uniform data for the longevity of the initiative, which did not previously exist. Analyzing this data, it is easy to see the disparities that exist on the Northside, specifically within the MPZ boundary. This tool is essential to compare the MPZ data to other areas of Minneapolis as well as the city as a whole that existed previously on MN Compass. 

For questions or more information, please contact Sharin Tellez

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Promise Zone News

Minneapolis Council to consider Section 8 anti-discrimination law (02/23 - MinnPost)
Three Minneapolis City Council members are moving ahead with an ordinance to protect people who use housing vouchers from discrimination by landlords. Wednesday, Council Member Elizabeth Glidden and other City officials brief the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority about the proposed ordinance.

North Mpls. students go big with robotics (02/23 - Kare 11)
Since September, a group of five young men from Bethune Elementary School in North Minneapolis has been programming and building robots. It's par of the First Lego League Tournament.

Hennepin County launches pilot program, using small businesses to renovate tax-forfeited homes (02/25 - Star Tribune)

The program, estimated to cost $1.2 million, aims to give small businesses the rare chance to work with the state's largest county, gain experience on larger projects and put women- and minority-owned companies to work.

NAACP demands release of north Minneapolis print shop owner jailed since December raid (03/02 - Star Tribune)
After serving a term for murder, Kagalee Babu Brown left prison in 2011 and worked to turn his life around. Brown opened a printing show with his fiancee, Katie Dupay, and had become recognized as a leader in the north Minneapolis business community.

Northern Metals settles with MPCA, plans to move to shredder out of Minneapolis (03/03 - Star Tribune)
The Northern Metals Recycling facility in north Minneapolis, long a source of residents' air quality concerns, will relocate to Beck, Minn., by August 2019. Under an agreement reached with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), North Metals will also pay $2.5 million in costs and penalties.

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West Broadway Building Collage


Northside Housing Fair
March 18, 2017 10:00am-3:00pm
3333 Penn Ave N, Minneapolis
More information

NEON Pop-up Boutique: Future of Black History
11:00am start time
1007 W. Broadway Ave, Suite 100, Minneapolis
More information

Permanent Farmers Market Visioning Session
March 27, 2017 - 5:30-7:30pm
Breaking Bread Cafe - 1200 W. Broadway Ave N, Minneapolis
More information

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Recent Federal Grant and Partnership Opportunities

The following content is for informational purposes only. For additional details on the opportunities below, and to find additional opportunities, please visit

Promise Zone Preference Points

If a discretionary funding opportunity indicates Promise Zone (PZ) preference points are available, please visit for additional information on forms and contacts to request preference point certification from the City of Minneapolis Promise Zone. Please submit your preference point request at least two weeks prior to the application deadline for Promise Zone certification approval consideration. 

If a funding opportunity does not indicate PZ preference points, you are still encouraged to contact the Promise Zone Manager, Julianne Leerssen (612-225-7721), about potential partnership opportunities to strengthen your application.

Incarcerated and Homeless Veterans

DOL: Veterans Employment and Training Service

Environmental Justice

EPA: Environmental Protection Agency

Land Grant University Extension Services

USDA: Department of Agriculture


ED: Department of Education

Small Business

DOC: Department of Commerce


HHS: Department of Health and Human Services


NEH: National Endowment for the Humanities

Urban and Community Forestry

USDA: Department of Agriculture

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About the Minneapolis Promise Zone

Promise Zones are federally designated, high poverty communities where the federal government partners with local leaders to increase economic activity, improve educational opportunities, and leverage private investment. The Minneapolis Promise Zone (MPZ) plan is a comprehensive, community-driven revitalization strategy that builds on and aligns numerous initiatives to address the persistent unemployment, crime, housing blight, and poor educational outcomes that affect that area.

For more information, please visit

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For reasonable accommodations or alternative formats please contact Christina Manancero Villagran at or by phone: 612-673-2958. People who are deaf or hard of hearing can use a relay service to call 311 at 612-673-3000. 

TTY users can call 612-673-2157 or 612-673-2626.

Para asistencia 612-673-2700, Yog xav tau kev pab, hu 612-673-2800, Hadii aad Caawimaad u baahantahay 612-673-3500.

Welcome to North Minneapolis" mural by youth artists from Juxtaposition Arts and TATS CRU