Youth leaders hosting mayoral forum June 6 to discuss education, racial disparities

Youth workers in Minneapolis are trying a new strategy to set the political agenda: they’re hosting a debate for mayoral candidates on June 6, and packing the audience with young people.

The debate will focus on issues like education and racial inequity.

“There are almost 2,000 homeless youth in the city of Minneapolis,” said Henry Jiménez, who works as a youth program supervisor at Project for Pride in Living. “I love bigger bins for recycling, but is that really what we should be focusing on? … We want real issues to be addressed in these forums.”

The youth workers who are organizing the debate work at local schools and agencies like YouthLink andAvenues for Homeless Youth. The group is called “One Minneapolis,” a name designed to break down regional and demographic disparities in the city.

“It started with a group of youth workers that were frustrated with the policies that affect the people we work with,” Jiménez said. “How about we start trying to change the policy ourselves? … When you don’t have a home, how do you get your homework done?”

Jiménez said nonprofits from across the city will help drive attendance, even sending school buses to transport parents.

All of the mayoral candidates are slated to attend. The forum will take place at 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 6 at the Sabathani Community Center, 310 E. 38th St.