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Sign-up begins for Minneapolis park programs in a year of historic spending to counter youth violence

1 March 2022

Registration opens Wednesday for hundreds of summer programs in Minneapolis parks. Thanks to historic budget increases in youth programming starting this summer, more than a dozen parks located in areas of concentrated poverty have eliminated fees for youth sports and activities.

“One of my key strategic goals was the empowerment of Minneapolis youth, particularly in our city’s most vulnerable neighborhoods,” said Parks Superintendent Al Bangoura. “I strongly believe that we have an obligation to invest in and serve young people in ways that impact them today, and give them access to opportunities so that they will pay it forward to future generations.”

Minneapolis’ 2022 budget includes a $2.6 million increase over last year to hire 22 full-time youth workers, build out three new art and technology studios at Harrison, Luxton and Whittier parks, expand the Teen Teamworks and green jobs youth employment programs, and fund “intergenerational clubs” for youth and seniors to garden, sew, cook and play pickleball together.

An Imagine Your Future program will serve youth ages 17-22 with records of low-level offenses. It includes an eight-week personal development workshop series on financial literacy, expungement, job preparation and a seasonal job placement.

“This funding program will address the increase in youth violence,” said Park Board President Meg Forney. “Park spaces and park staff are uniquely positioned to provide positive, engaging and meaningful, life-changing experiences.”

The park 2022 budget, approved in December, totals $139.6 million. It utilizes the maximum 5.85% tax levy approved by the Board of Estimate and Taxation. The levy of $74,439,000 comes out to an estimated $20 annual property tax increase for the owner of a median-value, $286,000 house.

The additional youth funding is provided through the property tax levy and one-time American Rescue Plan Act funds. As the federal COVID relief dollars dwindle, the tax levy will gradually increase to ensure that the $2.6 million in youth programming remains in perpetuity.

“Youth programming has been underfunded,” said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey. “This can’t just be one-time funding for a couple of years and then we pull the rug out from under our kids. It has to be ongoing … so youth programs, mentorships that get set up, are not just going to be taken away.”

Park locations that will offer free youth activities are Bottineau, Central Gym, East Phillips, Elliott, Farview, Folwell, Harrison, Luxton, North Commons, North Mississippi Nature Center, Painter, Peavey, Phillips, Powderhorn, Stewart, Van Cleve, and Whittier. Three more sites — Harrison, Webber and Matthews — have become donation-based.

Families can sign up for summer programs online, in person at any park recreation center or over the phone by calling 612-230-6400.

This post was originally published on this site

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