Center for Social Justice

Center for Social Justice Research, Policy and Advocacy

ULTC advances the African American experience and perspective on issues of equality, justice, and power to favorably impact policy, programs, plans and resources that impact black people. ​

Center for Social Justice Research, Policy and Advocacy

Issues of equity and justice are not new to ULTC, they are at the core of our mission. They also are not new to the Twin Cities, which has for decades struggled to reconcile its progressive external image with the internal reality of disturbingly deep disparities between whites and blacks in education, employment, health, homeownership, and wealth.

In 2020, Urban League Twin Cities launched the Center for Social Justice (the “Center” or “CSJ”). The mission of the Center will be to promote access to justice and rule of law, advance equity and build capacity within the African American community through civic engagement, community organizing and public policy research and advocacy.

Our primary goal is to ascertain, assert and advance African American experience and perspective on issues of equity, justice, and power to favorably impact policy, programs, plans and resources that impact black people. A secondary goal is to engage the broader community in the work of justice and equity to affect beneficial outcomes for African Americans.

Current Projects

What do we do better than others? We work to truly center community voice. We connect community expertise with data and processes that are typically gatekept. We want community to have access and be empowered in issues that impact them. Our research is intersectional, based in an understanding of race as socially constructed, and designed to move actionable change forward rather than being kept to ourselves.

School Resource Officers (SROs)

Research on the perceptions MN youth of Color have of their SRO(s) and how these perceptions interact with the students’ emotional wellbeing using 2019 Minnesota Student Survey Data (MSS). Presented at the 2023 SPSSI Conference.

Transgender and Nonbinary Individuals Healthcare Study

CSJ is partnered with Dartmouth College and Johns Hopkins University exploring issues of healthcare equity and access for trans and gender nonconforming adults in the U.S. This study included a national survey that resulted in over 100 responses. From this data, we are currently working on a paper examining the challenges to accessing healthcare that our survey participants have experienced.

Past Projects

United Nations Visit

The CSJ team collaborated with community partners to host a visit from the United Nations Anti-Racism Coalition’s Expert Mechanism to Advance Racial Justice and Equality in Law Enforcement (UNARC EMLER). During this visit, testimonies were given by young adults with experience of the carceral system and the family members of those lost to police violence.

Contributing to the Black Legislative Agenda for 2023

In collaboration with the State, Minneapolis, and St. Paul NAACP and the Stairstep Foundation/His Works United, the Center for Social Justice contributed to the United Black Legislative Agenda presented to the state legislature. The CSJ specifically provided brief policy statements covering issues from the criminal legal system to cannabis legalization, to homeownership.

Consent Decree Primer (2022)

The CSJ has collaboratively been engaging the Black community to inform and shape the conversation around police reform in Minneapolis, both at the state and federal level. Part of this included a review and analysis of past federal consent decrees from around the country. This was presented to community leaders to promote better understanding and strategic alignment.

Equitable Cannabis Legalization

CSJ is a member of The Great Rise, a coalition pushing for the most equitable cannabis legalization possible in MN, going further to address the racial harms caused by the War on Drugs. The Great Rise Coalition successfully advocated for policy language included in the law and held an expungement clinic in Spring ’23. The Coalition plans to continue working to ensure equitable implementation as well as holding more expungement clinics in the future.

As part of the coalition so far, CSJ staff contributed a social equity policy brief, chaired a task force on restorative justice aspects of the proposed bills, and supported advocacy efforts, including testifying for the House Judiciary committee on 1/19/23.

State of Black MN (2021)

Commissioned topic experts present analysis, commentary and proposals in seven key metrics of Black life: Black health and wellness, criminal justice, generational wealth, education disparities, Black business, arts and culture, and Black faith.

Taken together, the report reveals significant and encouraging change in 2021, but also the confounding continuation of historical inequities.

Theoretical Underpinnings


(Picture Courtesy of the Association for Women in Science):

Critical Race Theory

(Picture Courtesy of Fair Fight Initiative)

Social Determinants of Health:

(Picture Courtesy of the CDC)

Minority Stress:

(Picture Courtesy of PhD Balance)


Urban League Twin Cities advocate for an education experience that best prepares students, and the families that support them to become ready for success.

Wealth Development​

Our Wealth Development program provides housing and financial counseling services. Asset building through homeownership, along with financial stabilization and wealth creation is the main goal of this program.

Center for Social Justice

ULTC advances the African American experience and perspective on issues of equality, justice, and power to favorably impact policy, programs, plans and resources that impact black people.

Workforce Solutions​

Urban League Twin Cities Employment and Training programs offer job training, placement and advanced opportunities. We want to help clients pursue careers that provide livable wages.

Community & Civic Engagement​

The Urban League Twin Cities is working to build a stronger, more engaged, connected and empowered community. We believe that building power and expanding leadership through community engagement is one of the most effective ways to create lasting change.​

Center for the advancement of the Black Family

Every American deserves to live in safe, decent, affordable and energy efficient housing on fair terms. Urban League Twin Cities advocates on behalf of marginalized Minnesota's to reduce housing instability.

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