Announcing the African American Leadership Forum’s Collective Impact Community Harvest Event


MINNEAPOLIS, January 27, 2021 — the African American Leadership Forum (AALF), an organization of over 1,500 leaders, is inviting Black leaders and changemakers from across Minnesota to participate in a community harvest event in which participants will help identify the most prevalent issues facing the Black community, by selecting community engagement projects that facilitate change around Education, Health & Wellness, Family & Culture, and Economic Development.

The goal of the harvest is to bring Black innovators together in a virtual space and to support understanding of the challenges the Black community is facing through a process of collective insight and reflection on AALF’s Black-Centered Design (BCD) problem statements. During the harvest, AALF will present innovative projects that will help improve the lives of African Americans across the state.

• The event will take place March 4, 2021 from 1:30 3:30 pm via Zoom

• Those interested in attending can register via the sign-up form: 

About the Problem Statements & BCD Process: As part of AALF’s Black-Centered Design process, the organization created and shared a survey that asked the Black community to state what they felt were the most prevalent issues facing the community. The responses were then translated into Problem Statements (listed below). At the community harvest event, AALF will present community engagement projects to help solve many of these problems and will be seeking input from participants about which of our community engagement projects will be the most impactful.

Economic Development Problem Statement: The Black community is experiencing a series of disproportionate economic events. The pandemic and underlying economic recession have forced over 55% of the state’s Black community to file for unemployment insurance since February 2020. Despite the catastrophic impacts of the pandemic, over the next 24 months, the Black community is planning to make an economic and lifestyle shift toward entrepreneurship; evidenced by 55% of survey respondents who said

they will start their own business or nonprofit. In addition, over 40% plan to invest in real estate and other business endeavors. However, despite the desire to launch new businesses, there remains a limited number of resources to support the diversity of businesses and sectors in which Black entrepreneurs work.

Education Problem Statement: Children in the Black community who attend public schools are learning less and experiencing more trauma than their parents or previous generations. Despite advances in technology, students continue to be split into two distinct groups of high-achievers (20% of respondents said their children are excelling) and low/no performance students (45% of respondents said their children are doing far worse or equally bad). Grades and scores on homework assignments were the number one metric (4:1 ratio), shared by respondents, for parents to measure their child’s well-being in school.

Family & Culture Problem Statement: Based on responses to the survey, the Black community relies on informal in-person social gatherings to pass down cultural traditions, information, and opportunities, and to support entrepreneurship. Moreover, these gatherings are also needed to engage in kinship activities and to build deeper long-lasting relationships.

In a socially-distant pandemic environment, digital communication for some families has stressed the family’s bond sustaining strength and impaired their ability to nurture each other. In addition, because many families are challenged with community violence (the number one issue chosen by respondents) being unable to collectively bond, grieve, and strengthen during the pandemic has impacted families as well. Due to the pandemic, family-development, growth, and internal support functions are waxing and waning while stress, anxiety, and hardship are on the rise.

Health & Wellness Problem Statement: In Minnesota, nearly 1 out of 2 Black workers has filed for unemployment insurance during the pandemic. According to survey respondents, the biggest impediment for the Black community to live a healthy lifestyle are factors, variables, and decisions that are under their direct control, such as: healthy eating, daily exercise, personal time management, and managing the pressure of external factors in decision making.

Despite the ability to influence some of these factors, many in our community are making discretionary decisions that are not in the best interest of family and personal health. The Black community’s decisions continue to be made under stress-ridden, traumatic, coercive, and/or predatory food, financial, medical, and employment environments, thus negatively impacting the decisions made in our community. Health and wellness is viewed as a lifestyle choice for those who are not resource-constrained and rely on discretionary income to acquire access to healthy food and lifestyle choices. There is not an apparent health and wellness curriculum, program or set of guidelines for those in poverty or suffering from chronic stress overload from external sources.

Media inquiries and general info: Marcus Owens at

The African American Leadership Forum mobilizes and activates dynamic groups of committed and passionate African Americans to influence the social, economic, and political landscape that impacts our daily lives. To learn more visit