Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere
As of 2015, over 700 million people, or 10 percent of the world population, still live in extreme poverty today, struggling to fulfill the most basic needs like health, education, and access to water and sanitation, to name a few. Globally, the number of people living in extreme poverty declined from 36 percent in 1990 to 10 percent in 2015. But the pace of change is decelerating and the COVID-19 crisis could push tens of millions of people into extreme poverty, leading to the first time that poverty has increased globally in thirty years.
Sustainable Development Goal #1 explores how we as a society and as individuals can help make a difference in addressing poverty. At the University of Minnesota, this involves everything from getting involved with policymaking to ensure marginalized voices are heard to promoting government action that leads to productive employment and job opportunities to providing necessary support to help low-income students receive the education they need. Significantly, research and scientific breakthroughs have also played a critical role in lowering the number of people living in poverty over the last two decades and will undoubtedly play an important role in the future.
RESEARCH AND EXPERTISE
OUTREACH AND PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT
Anti-Poverty Public Events
Bread 'N Bowls is an awareness-raising event focused on combating violence and poverty that takes place every spring in Morris, MN. UMN-Morris art student along with Morris area art students and artists donate ceramic bowls, and area organizations and businesses provide soup, bread, and desserts.
Critical Conversations at the Robert J. Jones Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center (UROC) is a series of public discussions that bring together scholars, activists, historians, artists, and community leaders who address urban issues and ideas. In 2023, they included a series on "Demystifying Our Energy System" which can be watched on youtube.
Neighborhoods Now! is an innovative community educational series developed to strengthen the work of individuals and organizations working in neighborhoods so they can organize, build power to change systems, build organizations whose leadership is reflective of the community, and build diverse and effective cross cultural collaborations. In 2023, they hosted their first in-person session since 2019!
Collaborating on Community-Led Anti-Poverty Programming
Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ) is focused on ending generational poverty and building a culture of achievement in North Minneapolis. By collaborating with partner organizations, schools (including the UMN), and parents NAZ seeks to develop a pipeline where all low-income children of color graduate from high school college- and career-ready. As of 2023, several UMN experts are members of the NAZ board.
The Minnesota Community Action Program (MinnCap) serves all 87 counties across the state and is focused on removing obstacles and solving problems that block the achievement of self-sufficiency. Their Minnesota Annual Poverty report, which is developed in collaboration with the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, highlights poverty rates for the state and local regions that take into account all government programs. And data from the report is often incorporated into other state reports like the 2023 Economic Status of Minnesotan Report.
As part of the University Minnesota Law School, the Institute of Metropolitan Opportunity (IMO), formerly the Institute on Race & Poverty, recognizes that at least 40 percent of the U.S. metropolitan population resides in suburbs with social or fiscal challenges severe enough to be considered “at risk.” Through scholarship and mapping, IMO investigates the ways that laws, policies and practices affect development patterns, then provides practical resources and recommendations for reform for policymakers, planning officials and community organizations.
Partnering with Local Governments to Address Poverty
The University’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) works with community leaders and local government partners to produce knowledge that drives change. Their mission is to connect the resources of the UMN with the interests and needs of urban communities and the region for the benefit of all.
One long-standing example of CURA's collaborative approach is the Resilient Communities Project which builds local capacity around sustainability and resilience issues. In 2022/23, their work included projects involving UMN experts and students.
Community Action Duluth includes a program for free tax assistance for anyone earning up to $58,000 annually. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program includes student volunteers from the Labovitz School of Business and Economics at UMD.
The Hennepin-University Partnership (HUP) is a nationally recognized, jointly funded collaboration between Hennepin County and the University of Minnesota. HUP catalyzes and supports mutually beneficial partnerships that create positive community change in and around Hennepin County. Read their 2022 report.
Programs to Assist Local Communities and Businesses
CURA’s Community Assistantship Program connects communities working on projects requiring specific expertise and technical needs with UMN student research assistants who then help carry out the community-defined and -guided projects. As of 2023, they have trained over 100 community leaders, engaged 40 cities and neighborhoods, provided $150k in grants, among other highlights.
As a key component of the Veden Center for Rural Development, the mission of the Northwest Minnesota Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is to improve economic growth in Minnesota by providing assistance to small businesses in order to increase the number of new business start-ups, expand existing small businesses, and reduce the number of small business failures. In total, there are 22 SBDC Centers throughout the state.
EDUCATION AND STUDENTS
UMN POLICIES AND ADMINISTRATION
UMN employment benefits include resources and programs to increase employee financial security and save for retirement. These include but are not limited to financial counseling, disability and life insurance, as well as financial wellbeing programming.
University of Minnesota Physicians’ Community Care Program provides an opportunity for patients experiencing difficulties in paying for their medically necessary care to qualify for financial assistance.
UCare Mobile Dental Clinics offer dental check-ups, cleanings and simple restorative care to UCare members who have limited access to quality dental care. All care is provided by faculty-supervised dental, dental hygiene and dental therapy students from the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry, UCare's Mobile Dental Clinic partner.
Low Income Student Support
The Promise Plus Free Tuition Program (Promise Plus) is an expansion of the U Promise Scholarship Program to support Minnesota students in being able to afford college. It provides funds in addition to the federal, state, and University grants/scholarships needed to cover the full cost of tuition for students whose families make $50,000 per year or less.
The University of Minnesota has created emergency funds to assist and support UMN students who encounter an unforeseen financial emergency or catastrophic event. The typical range of awards is $50-$1,000 depending on types of expenses, circumstances, and/or documentation provided.
Summit Scholars - TRIO Student Support Services, is a U.S. Department of Education supported program at UMN Morris, that promotes access, equal opportunity, and success for students who are first-generation in college, students who are low income, and students who have disabilities.
Programs Addressing Poverty at the Local, National and International Level
CURA’s Public Policy Design Lab offers design and visualization assistance that explains complex ideas in simple, visual ways thus making data, policies and other processes more accessible to the communities they are trying to serve. In 2023, one big project they worked on was called Renewing the Countryside.
The Veden Center for Rural Development is a think tank dedicated to creating prosperity through innovative partnerships and development of opportunities for the region—especially in Northern MN near the Crookston campus. Center work includes thought leadership with a focus on rural America post COVID-19, bridging urban and rural business opportunities, incubation and acceleration services for veterans, new Americans and economically disadvantaged populations and creating new pathways for student success following their higher education experience.
The UMN Extension's Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships (RSDP) bring together community and University knowledge and resources to drive sustainability in four focus areas: agriculture and food systems, clean energy, natural resources and resilient communities. In a given year, RSDP supports approximately 125-150 projects around the state.