In 2023, the Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association (MHNA) was awarded $20,000 thru a Collaboration and Shared Resources grant by the City of Minneapolis. This program will allow us to better explore options for the future of neighborhood association within the University Community. Collaborating members include the Southeast Como Improvement Association, the Prospect Park Association, and the Nicollet Island-East Bank Neighborhood Association.
The University Neighborhoods Partnership is exploring ways in which neighborhood organizations might work together to better represent residents within the University Community. Through our collaborative efforts, we strive to offer more equitable and sustainable engagement to include diversity and inclusion within our collective programming. An important goal of the partnership is to identify what this might look like; ranging from increased collaboration between the existing organizations to merging into a larger organization that represents the diverse population of the University Community more effectively.
Please read the preliminary report from our hired consultant, Willow Consulting, HERE.
Please click HERE for a PDF copy of our one-pager about this project, or read the information below:
WHAT’S ALL THIS ABOUT A MERGER?
WHO? The neighborhoods that are talking merger are Southeast Como (SECIA), Marcy-Holmes (MHNA), Nicollet Island / East Bank (NIEBNA), and Prospect Park (PPA). The combined entity would also serve the University neighborhood, which does not have a City recognized neighborhood association. See map on next page.
WHY? City funding of neighborhoods is declining. The Neighborhood Revitalization Plan (NRP) is all but over and won’t be renewed. Standalone neighborhoods will have limited or no staff and very little for programs. The current model is not sustainable. Combining would result in one larger organization with more funding for staff and programs that could focus on equitable engagement and other common issues like the river, transit, and development.
WHEN? Preliminary discussions with representatives from each board have been ongoing for the last 3 months. Each neighborhood is now rolling out the idea for more discussion at the board and community levels. By February, each neighborhood board will give a preliminary thumbs up or down. Participating neighborhoods will then negotiate the details with a goal of finalizing a merger in the 3rd quarter of 2024.
HOW will this work? The official boundaries and identities of the existing neighborhoods would continue as is, but Community Participation Program (CPP), NRP and other resources of the neighborhoods could be combined in the merged entity (as yet, unnamed). This entity would employ staff to support all of the combined neighborhood. The City is supportive of neighborhoods consolidating resources and is flexible about the details. Projects underway would continue and committed funds would remain committed. Details about allocating remaining NRP funds need to be worked out. The merged entity would be governed by its own board, with representatives from each participating neighborhood and some “at large” seats. The existing neighborhood boards would go away. The structure could also include committees to work on neighborhood level issues and events.
WHAT are the pros? A combination would mean more resources in one place, economies of scale, a meaningful staff, and more money and volunteers for equitable engagement, community building, and other programs. It would also mean a unified voice in dealing with the City and the University.
WHAT are the cons? Each neighborhood would be less independent and more tied to the group and there would be more centralized and less diffuse governance.
WHAT happens if we do nothing? Existing neighborhoods have different levels of resources and some could survive as is for longer than others. But eventually, for everyone, resources will dry up. Smaller neighborhoods won’t be able to afford staffing or programs. Influence and impact will inevitably decline.
WHAT do I do now? Watch for information from your neighborhood association. Listen, learn, and join in the discussion.