Focus Areas

Equitable Heath Care

Encouraging Leaders aims to reduce inequities in health among the BIPOC communities in Minneapolis by developing new tools and strategies to reduce the burden of infectious diseases such as HIV, AIDS, and HEPATITIS, among others. EL has championed HIV prevention to accelerate the decline in HIV infection in the poorest Neighborhoods in Minneapolis and save lives by ensuring expanded and simplified HIV treatment and improved and effective interventions to prevent new infections. Our current and past programs have focused on culturally competent approaches to spreading HIV education awareness and liaising with health providers to offer patient-centered services.

You can learn more about our recent Beyond my HIV Status Program

Beyond My HIV Project Status

This project aimed to implement early intervention services (EIS) by strengthening HIV surveillance and increasing HIV testing among the BIPOC MSM living in the poorest neighborhood in North Minneapolis and around Twin Cities. Dominant communities targeted included Black, American Indians, and Latino. The project achieved HIV testing of 1000 BIPOC LGBTQ+ GROUP annually with a positivity rate of 30%. The project expanded the reach of HIV Rapid-Rapid Testing by spearheading the HIV Self-Test (HIVST) initiative to be accessible and available among BIPOC MSM members at risk of HIV/AIDS infections.

We successfully distributed self-testing kits, increased HIV prevention awareness and targeted population education on how to use the self-testing kits. Encouraging Leaders (EL) collaborated with the Multi-Cultural Community of color Alliance Coalition in planning, evaluating, educating, and self-testing coordination activities throughout the project. Over and above, we reached about 10,000 BIPOC population in Minneapolis through social media campaigns. The recognition of our work made EL to be selected to represent the United States in the HIV advocacy program.

Visit our gallery page and witness our incredible and life-transforming initiatives!

Economic Mobility and Opportunity

Our goal is to dramatically increase economic mobility and opportunity for the BIPOC communities living in poverty across Minnesota. Our conversations in BIPOC communities inform our understanding of the scope and scale of the challenge and the nature of the barriers involved, including systemic racism, neighborhood structures, the criminal justice system, and access to affordable housing and career pathways. We work to replace stereotypes and false narratives about poverty with accurate data and the stories of people from diverse backgrounds who have navigated the experience of poverty. We have executed various economic empowerment projects, including YouthPrise, among others.

Read more about Encouraging Leaders and Entrepreneurship project here

Encouraging Leaders Project

This program aimed to increase the quality and volume of industry-led digital skill opportunities for the BIPOC youth residing in the poorest neighborhoods in North Minneapolis. We intended to meet the growing demand for digital, technology, and creative skills in the current competitive job market. The project prepared, coached, and supported young African American youth (18 – 24 years old) by equipping them with digital skills through a 12-week training program. The beneficiaries went through a 12-week vigorous classroom-based training and 4-week job readiness and placement after-care program. The beneficiaries were trained in the essential technical and soft skills required to work in the current digital space. After the training, the beneficiaries were helped to get experience through the attachment support program. The target audience is currently among under-represented groups in the industry, i.e., women and youth from the Black community. 

Our beneficiaries are majorly impacted with the following skills:

The program’s impact included:

Check our Gallery photos and testimonial page for some of the beneficiaries testimonials

K-12 Education

Our goal is to significantly increase the number of BIPOC students experiencing poverty who graduate from high school, enroll in a postsecondary institution, and are on track in their first year to obtain a credential with labor-market value. EL works with parents, teachers, and education leaders to ensure that all students have access to high-quality public education and to help more students graduate from high school with the skills they need to enroll, succeed in, and complete college. We also undertake a great initiative to instill emotional development and behavior change among the young people in the poorest neighborhoods in Minneapolis. Some of the programs we have executed include Truancy reduction among the BIPOC youth, also known as the Be@school Program funded by the City of Minnesota.

Read more about the success of our truancy reduction program here

Be@school Project

In this project, we applied proven and tested approach to achieve prevention and truancy reduction in North Minneapolis. Our project targeted youths between the ages of 12-17 learning in the public high schools located in the poorest neighborhoods in North Minneapolis. The project rehabilitated a total of 30 students for each cohort. Each cohort took around 12 weeks (3 months). During the 12 weeks, the student’s performance and case management for the identified students for referrals to different services were initiated. The critical target population included youth that has been previously incarcerated, youth identified to be at risk of truancy behavior and youth identified to be at risk of engagement in substance abuse. Generally, the North Minneapolis community is highly affected by high poverty levels. This has led to drug and substance abuse directly correlating to truancy behavior and criminal engagement. This program intended to offer a holistic approach to the issue of truancy, targeting parents, teachers and the community.

Violence Prevention

Encouraging Leaders spearheads domestic and sexual violence services. EL provides safe and secure housing, crisis hotlines, counseling, court assistance, and other community and safety programs to more than 500 women, children and families across Minnesota. Some of the critical services that we provide include:

Read more about our Recent Teen Tek Safer Internet Violence program here!

TeK Teen Project

Creative Arts

Our Creative art initiative involves a broad spectrum of activities that provide the Youth the opportunity to express themselves artistically. We harness the youth talents and provide them with avenues to express their grievances through artistic work.

Read more on our creative arts programs here:

Our Hip – Hop-dance art performance has trained 50 teenage youth ranging in ages of 13 to17 years. This project involves training in Hip – Hop dance with various messaging on mental health and wellness using cultural heritage to encourage national integrity, communal harmony, and diversified socio-cultural identity among the BIPOC youth. The participants attend 3-hour weekly dance training sessions, after which the best performing participants are refereed for paid dance group admission with an established traditional dance company. Additionally, participants are awarded a certificate of completion. Besides, EL will also run a social media campaign encouraging the BIPOC community cultural and Arts heritage, performance, and appreciation. We have successfully reached 5000 BIPOC youth.

Mental Health

Encouraging Leaders has led the observance of Mental Health Month by reaching thousands of people through the media, local events, and screening. We have spearheaded awareness campaigns with a mission to inspire conversations about mental health. Our main goal includes:

Read more about our mental health initiative here:

Our Mental Health project entails a mental health prevention strategy targeting young adults from BIPOC communities in Minneapolis who are at risk of violence, drug abuse, homelessness, and criminal offences. The target age includes youth between the ages of 13-30 years. We are uniquely and intentionally targeting young adults. We have noted a strong link between high chemical addiction among the BIPOC youth. Most of these young adults have faced traumatic experiences and have little support from their families or caregivers. Hence, they end up at risk of homeless, engaging in antisocial behavior such as gang activities, drug and substance abuse, and violence. They are one of the leading referrals to our programs. The BIPOC youth experience challenges that lead to a lack of positive attitude. EL applies a strength-based model that focuses on guidance and counseling practice to the BIPOC youth in collaboration with peers, families, and community support to overcome some challenges.

Check our gallery and testimonial page to gain in-depth track of how EL champion Mental Health.

Civic Education

Encouraging Leaders creates awareness on civic morals and values, rights and responsibilities among the BIPOC youth in Minneapolis.  Encouraging Leaders spearheads formulation, coordination and implementation of educational, training and capacity building initiatives aimed at promoting good relations, harmony and peaceful co-existence between persons of the different ethnic and racial communities in Minneapolis. We encourage BIPOC youth representation in leadership through voting. 

Read more about our Voter Education Outreach Project here

Voter Education Outreach Project

EL executes Social Media Blitz outreach effort and achieved a reach of 10,000 BIPOC youth between the ages of 18 and 35 and 500 in person. Our key channels for voter mobilization have included:

Social Media Strategy: Our social media voter education and engagement strategy include building a robust social media presence through creating a social media blitzing communication strategy plan. The communication strategy plan includes awareness of the significance of BIPOC youth participating in voting and civil rights.

Engagement and Outreach Services: EL conducts community outreach in religious venues during the worshiping. The input is equivalent to 15 hours of public hearing and education on the civic voting education and registration while collecting their input through different events within the community.  We liaise with community leaders and event organizers in Minneapolis to be part of the events and use the events as an avenue for voter education and registration. Some of our key roles in civic engagement have included:

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