The African American Leadership Forum (AALF) will host a Collective Impact Community Open House at the Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center (UROC) in Minneapolis to introduce participants to our Workstream projects (community engagement initiatives focused on African Americans). The event is intended to encourage Black thought leaders, builders, ambassadors, and influencers from across the Twin Cities to sign up for projects that align with their interests and skill set!

The open house will be held Thursday, April 16 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., 2001 Plymouth Ave North, Minneapolis, MN 55411. To RSVP and help the African American community in Minnesota thrive, complete the interest form:

We recently reached out to Program Director LaCora Bradford Kesti to talk about how AALF’s Collective Impact work is making a difference in the Black community!

AALF: What were some of the dynamics in the Task Force (discussions, approaches to solving problems and communicating, and/or insights gathered) that differ from other methods of community engagement in the Black community?

Bradford Kesti: Our Collective Impact Task Force is comprised of some of our best Black community thought leaders; this is intentional so that we get diverse perspectives from our Black community. This cohort of members also helps to center the voices of our specific community. It is intentional to have our voices be the ones discussing issues and solving our community’s challenges. For community engagement we wanted everything to feel Black. We gather at UROC in North Minneapolis, we play our music, we eat a full dinner, we have a Black facilitator, and participants identify as Black or African American. The space created is one that feels familiar and comfortable. This intentional space creation is healing and has helped the Task Force members bring their full voice to problem solving in our community.

What knowledge have you gotten from leading the Task Force?

The knowledge that I have gained from leading the Task Force has been so great. Like all things you never really understand the power of community until you are working together to create something. Everyone is a leader and has so much perspective and informed information to give. The diversity of thought isn’t lacking and every day I get to interact with these amazing thought leaders — it gives me so much energy and hope that we as the Black community can heal and solve our most difficult community problems. I am humbled every day.

Provide information about the problem statements (what they are and why the human-centered design process uses them).

Human-centered Design (HCD) gives you a process in which people go through phases of project design focused on the human part of the work. You use personal stories and data to paint a picture of what is really happening around that issue. Empathizing in the design phase was a critical piece in the way people approached their work. Task Force members had to go through the HCD process to get clear on what is the problem and why. The Problem Statements are what we call the pre-work for the larger community to get a baseline understanding of how we begin to address community challenges in our four focus areas.  We need to have a clear understanding of what is happening and then host a community harvest to help identify solutions to those problems.

Learn more about AALF’s Collective Impact initiatives! We look forward to seeing you at the community open house.