Three Twin Cities-based neighborhood organizations received $5,000 grants from the Israeli government as part of their bid to connect with communities and help them through challenging times. It’s the first time the Consulate General of Israel to the Midwest organized such an opportunity.
“We created the social impact grant with Minnesota in mind because of our admiration of the way you [Minnesotans] came together to pick up the pieces after very challenging times,” said Consulate General Yinam Cohen. The three organizations funded include A Mother’s Love, founded by former Minneapolis police officer Lisa Clemons to mentor those affected by gun violence; Mr. Basketball Academy, which mentors youth in basketball, life skills, and financial literacy; and Minnesota STEM partnership, which introduces people to the STEM fields.
“We thought it was a great opportunity for us to partner, and so I’m really excited about this partnership,” said Mr. Basketball Academy founder and commissioner Tyron Terry, who says the money will help their organization recruit and mentor girls.
Michael Wulf, who runs the Minnesota STEM Partnership, appreciates the flexibility the grant would allow his organization to support its purpose. “This money allows us to exclusively focus on that purpose [of bringing STEM to BIPOC communities]. When you get grants, sometimes you don’t always get a chance to have meaningful money.
“This is a difference between buying a computer or buying a printer or buying, you know, toner or robotics equipment,” said Wulf. “This is actually being able to give directly to the students that your organizations are serving.”
Clemons also appreciated receiving the money, which she views as an affirmation of the work she is doing in the community. “This is on a whole different level,” Clemons said, referencing that the work she is doing is being recognized on a global scale.
“This will help us sort of move forward this project of teaching women to deal with lethal trauma, to be tenants, to be good tenants in a housing area, just to create a new value system and a moral compass that is lacking in a lot of homes,” Clemons said. “For now, we are grateful.”
The consulate said they had over 100 applicants, to their surprise. “The three that we chose represent three different amazing faces of the community-based work here in Minneapolis that is based on values that we believe in…for others to see what you can do to change the world to create an impact,” said Cohen.
The consulate general later visited A Mother’s Love, which utilizes community office space at the Cub Foods on West Broadway in North Minneapolis. There, Clemons showed the consulate general the work they did at the office, which includes tutoring and mentoring.
Clemons also showed the consulate general a list of names dating back to 2013 of lives lost to gun violence, among them Winston Boogie Smith who was shot and killed by Hennepin and Ramsey County deputies in Uptown.
“We come from a neighborhood that also sometimes could be tough, the Middle East,” said Cohen. “And trauma issues were a serious issue in Israel. So I think that, you know, throughout the years, we have developed great models, civil society organizations, about dealing with trauma and post-trauma syndromes.”
The Consulate General of Israel to the Midwest is charged with connecting to the following midwest states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
Henry Pan is a contributing writer at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.