Minnesota challenge winners seek to bring community together across cultures and faiths

communities / Article

Three projects intended to bring people together across cultures and faiths have been named winners of a Minnesota state-wide contest designed to engage residents in making their community stronger.

The third annual Minnesota Idea Open Challenge was open to the public and close to 2,000 people voted for the winning ideas. The three winners listed below will each receive $15,000 to implement their projects.

The Minnesota Idea Open Challenge, which works to spread a deeper understanding of key community issues and challenges by engaging citizens in problem solving efforts, is a project of the Minnesota Community Foundation and was supported by Knight Foundation’s Knight Community Information Challenge.

About the challenge and its winners, Knight’s Program Director in St. Paul, Polly Talen says:

“I am thrilled to see the Minnesota Community Foundation continue to use this online tool to address statewide issues. Bringing people together across cultures and faiths is essential to informing and engaging communities.”

The three winners are: 

Hidden Pearls 7-Step Summer Challenge

A group of Muslim women in the state, led by Fatuma Mohamed, hope to dismantle stereotypes and empower others to lead across their cultures and faiths. Mohamed is encouraging Minnesota residents to participate in a series of fun summer events including a church/synagogue/mosque-hopping event, a healthy community-wide walk, a “pink hijab week” and more.


Tents of Witness Eilen Kennedy and Margo O’Dell’s idea of a “Tents of Witness” exhibit will give more Minnesotans the chance to learn more about its diverse refugee community. The exhibit will feature several 8' x 12' tents each representing an individual refugee's story. The goal of the project is to “bridge cultures, faiths, and experiences within Minnesota and globally through dialogue and awareness around issues of discrimination and violence wherever it occurs.”


Multicultural Barn Raisings Jim Rettew’s idea of multicultural barn raisings seeks to give Minnesotans the chance to combine their work ethic and passion for giving back to others in the community. Residents who register their skills, talents and trades through an online portal will be matched up with local organizations who submit projects they need volunteers to build, like making a home handicap accessible for a war veteran or constructing a chapel. By working alongside people from other cultures, residents will be able to “get to know each other in a way that promotes respect and understanding.”


Two projects - Questions from the Future of Minnesota by Paul and Akiko Maeker, and United By History by Margaret Michaletz - were named as runner-ups and will each receive $5,000.

To hear more about how people in Minnesota are changing the way they addresses community issues, Minnesota Philanthropy Partners’ Chief of Staff and Vice President of Strategy, Jennifer Ford Reedy, shared insights at Knight’s 2012 Media Learning Seminar.

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