Rosa Parks Center could provide ‘conflict resolution, leadership’ at Minneapolis location

From left: A.J. Flowers with Young People's Task Force, Clarence Hightower with Community Action Partnership and Rep. Esther Agbaje (DFL-Minneapolis) speak before the House Capital Investment Committee on behalf of the proposed Rosa Parks Center for

An area of Minneapolis often plagued by crime could receive an investment to design, develop and construct a center for African American youth.

A bill before the Minnesota Legislature would grant $6 million to Community Action Partnership (CAP), to acquire property located at 2200 16th Avenue North in Minneapolis in an effort to create a youth center to be known as the "Rosa Parks Center for the Development of African-American Youth."

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in Hennepin County, CAP would be responsible for the "pre-design, design, construct, furnish, and equip" of the youth center, but could contract with other 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, as well as the Young People's Task Force to provide programming.

"This will be specifically designed for youth, by youth – this will be what they want in their community," said Community Action Partnership Executive Director Clarence Hightower before the Capital Investment Committee Wednesday. "All of us know that when conflict exists, we need to double down on what we can do to prevent it."

According to Hightower, the project has brought together several stakeholders throughout the planning process already, one of which being Minneapolis Public Schools.

The facility location proposed for the youth center is currently designated a surplus facility by MPS, Hightower said.

According to A.J. Flowers, a project coordinator with the Young People's Task Force, seven service components will be the focus of the youth center: self-actualization, mediation and reconciliation, economic development, education, recreation/creative expression, holistic health wellness, and leadership. 

"We want to ensure of African American youth are empowered to thrive as community leaders to advance change within the community," Flowers said Wednesday. 

The appropriation in the bill, also known as H.F. 2942 sponsored by Rep. Esther Agbaje (DFL-Minneapolis), would be a one-time grant, and "available until the project is completed or abandoned."

"The state’s investment in our young people should start at the beginning, where they can go to school, be around young adults, and have safe places to learn," Rep. Agbaje said before the House Capital Investment Committee. "We should not wait to intervene until something has gone wrong."