Advocating for systemic equity and opportunities so all Minnesotans thrive
Wilder's public policy work advances systemic equity and social and economic opportunities so that everyone throughout Minnesota can thrive. Our efforts have a special emphasis on supporting and strengthening the self-advocacy of people, families and communities who would be directly impacted by certain budget and policy proposals. We work closely with many nonprofit partners in coalition on a range of issues related to Wilder's mission.
Wilder’s policy priorities and yearly agendas respond to the context of the moment, but remain focused on the social and economic opportunities of our community. Our primary issue areas include health care, housing, mental health, aging, and other areas of critical importance in advancing Wilder’s mission.
Wilder's 2022 Public Policy Agenda & Updates
We understand that society has created advantages for certain groups and not others; we find ways to see and change how we are making decisions that impact marginalized or disadvantaged groups in unintended ways. Wilder welcomes the complexity that results because of the many differences that exist among groups in one place: race, class, sexual orientation, ability, gender, etc. We believe diversity adds value and makes us stronger.
Informed by these values and principles, this legislative agenda reflects Wilder’s commitment to Lead, Support and Endorse efforts which promote the social welfare of persons resident or located in the greater Saint Paul metropolitan area and beyond. We acknowledging the disparate impacts, economic and otherwise, of longstanding public policy and the current public health crisis.
Addressing the Benefits Cliff: Understanding the need for holistic and intersectional policy change that will support the whole family, Wilder will work to address the "cliff effect" throughout the state.
- Streamline Service Application Processes - Applying for services that one is eligible for shouldn’t be a full-time job, streamlining services will allow families to focus on solutions and long-term stability.
- Align & Simplify Eligibility Requirements for Services - Navigating uncoordinated requirements for assistance is time intensive and complicated. Whenever possible the state should look to align service requirements for public service programs so that families can focus on achieving long term stability.
- Increase Use of Continuous Eligibility Models - Every year, families who qualify for benefits are dropped from vital services because they failed to confirm that they remained qualified. The pandemic further highlighted how problematic this approach to benefit eligibility verification is, Minnesota should shift to continuous eligibility models wherever possible.
- Reevaluate Asset Limits - Asset limits disincentivize professional advancement, transitions to employment, ownership of vehicles & the practice of maintaining a savings account. Failure to desist from the actions listed above put families at risk of ineligibility for critical benefits.
- Flexible Income for Families - Wilder will work to support Project Rai$e by monitoring opportunities for expansion and working to secure waivers that will protect Rai$e recipients from being bumped off the public assistance they currently rely on.
- Agency Modernization State - Agencies like DHS, MDH, MDE, are in desperate need of modernization to streamline service administration. Technological modernization will allow for more coordinated government services and the simplification of enrollment and user experience.
Stable and Accessible Public Health Care Programs: Wilder will work to improve access to healthcare in Minnesota.
- Enhance Medicaid - Wilder will work through the This is Medicated (TIM) Coalition and other partners on proactive efforts to solidify and improve Minnesota's Medicaid Program.
- Healthcare Workforce - Wilder will work with its statewide partners to address the critical workforce crisis by seeking to implement practical solutions to ensure that our healthcare workforce, particularly home and community-based services and behavioral health, have the needed resources to provide quality care for all.
- Language Access in Healthcare - Wilder will work to ensure that spoken language does not dictate weather one is eligible for quality healthcare. Wilder will elevate the positive impacts of its Cultural Brokers program and will advocate to establish grants that help support interpreters, trainings and Cultural Brokers programs.
Affordable Housing and Homelessness Prevention: Wilder will work to increase access to safe and affordable and to prevent homelessness for all Minnesotans.
- Homes for All Agenda - Wilder will work through the Homes for All Coalition, as a key leader, to improve housing stability and increase supports for people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota.
Affordable Childcare Access: Wilder will support efforts to improve access to childcare through:
- Establishment of and investments into scholarships that help families afford out of pocket expenses for critical services.
- Investments into Programming that support families in paying for childcare while they seek/attend work or training/school required for work.
- Municipal initiatives that seek to expand access to affordable childcare access.
Wilder Program Supports: Wilder will look to sustain and grow the positive impact already being made by Wilder programming in the areas of:
- Birth Equity - Wilder supports securing long term funding for our work in the African American Babies Coalition and Projects.
- Full Service Community Schools - Wilder supports investments to sustain and expand access to Full Service Community Schools (FSCS).
- Education Partnership Coalition (EPC) - Wilder supports initiatives to increase state support for the Saint Paul Promise Neighborhood and other EPC sites around the state.
- School Linked Mental Health - Wilder will work to support School-Based Mental Health Services and increase investments into the Mental Health Innovation Grant Program.
- Healthy Aging - Wilder will advance legislation that makes Minnesota the best state for healthy aging, ensuring that our senior communities have access to critical health services, housing, caregiving supports, and nutritional security.
Wilder will consider endorsing proposals which are aligned with the organization’s mission and vision. These issue areas include but are not limited to:
- Racial Equity & Anti-Discrimination Initiatives
- Culturally Specific/Relevant Approaches to Social Services
- Efforts to Address Food Insecurities for Children & Adults
- Closing the Opportunity Gap
- St. Paul Revitalization
- Criminal Justice System Reforms
- Guaranteed Family & Medical Leave
- Transportation Grants that Increase Access to Wilder Services
Public Policy Update: Committee Deadlines
Public Policy Update: Launching the 2023 Minnesota Legislative Session
Working with Partners in Community
We are stronger when we work together. This is why Wilder convenes and participates in these statewide coalitions, along with many others.
Building BIPOC Power & Voice in Public Policy
Community Equity Program
Meet the BIPOC Changemakers of Community Equity Program
Policy Pro Corner
Check out tips, strategies or resources that will help you to improve your policy and advocacy skills. You can find them all here as we continue to add more with each public policy update.
Tip #1: Know who represents you.
There are new elected officials in the state legislature, on county boards and in city governments. Knowing who to reach out to, is the first step in engaging. Look up who represents you at the following links:
Tip #2: Seek out alternative points of view.
In our era of heightened divisions and easily located echo chambers this can be a difficult and unappetizing task. The point of this isn’t necessarily to change your mind on an issue.
Reading an article about how and why people view an issue differently than you can help to clarify how to refine your position or approach to convince undecided people. To be clear, this only applies to good faith disagreements that are based in reality and not craven attempts to sow division.
Tip #3: Never be afraid to say “I Don’t Know.”
There will be times during your advocacy where you get a question that you don’t know the answer or due to nerves you forget the answer. It happens to everyone. The worst thing you can do is to lie and make up an answer, it will eventually come out.
The best option is to say something to the effect of “I don’t know the answer to that, but I will follow-up with you to get you an answer.” Extra Tip: if you say you are going to follow up, then you need to follow up.
Tip #4: Create space for restoration and joy aka be kind to yourself.
Often times when we engage in policymaking work, we are focusing on issues that we care deeply about like access to basic needs or reforms to the systems that oppress us. Because of the gravity of these issues, it can be tough to convince yourself that taking a break is acceptable, but if you don’t make space to heal yourself, you will burn out. Here are a few things you can do to help remind yourself that it’s okay to take time for yourself:
- Find a co-conspirator that you can work with to look out for each other
- Create dedicated time on your calendar for something that brings you joy…and don’t cancel it
- Celebrate when you get a win, even if it’s not the end of your journey
Tip #5: Do your best to learn the process or make a friend who knows it.
Most policymaking bodies from a neighborhood association to congress have rules and practices that shape their work, and most of the time they are unclear and confusing. Most of the time there isn’t a Schoolhouse Rock video to explain the process and missing a small step can set you back weeks or months.
Always try your best to understand all of the steps needed to pass a bill or ordinance or have someone in your community who can help answer questions. I would suggest starting with your elected official with your questions. If you’re someone who understands these processes, you should share this information freely!
Tip # 6: Lean forward and be comfortable not knowing everything.
Don’t know everything? Guess what, no one does! Your experiences, knowledge, and passion are valuable and important for lawmakers to hear. The Capitol can feel like an intimidating space and it’s common for people (especially from marginalized communities) to feel unqualified to share their valuable thoughts and expertise. (You have expertise in something valuable that others don’t!)
When you feel intimidated, think of the world we live in. Lawmakers and regulars at the Capitol certainly have their areas of expertise, but if there aren't gaps of knowledge, expertise, and perspectives at the Capitol, then why aren’t things better than they are? Empower yourself and your community to engage in the policymaking process. You don’t need to know everything to make an impact!
About Wilder Public Policy
Our Approach to Public Policy
Wilder’s public policy efforts advance social and economic opportunities so that communities we serve—and communities throughout Minnesota—can thrive.
- We endorse and advocate for policies that will have these outcomes for low-income people in Saint Paul, the East Metro and across Minnesota.
- We support and strengthen advocacy capacity of low income residents, people of color and indigenous leaders to influence legislative decision making and improve people's lives.
- We leverage Wilder’s expertise and resources to support coalitions that advance our priorities.
Public Policy Associate Program Manager
Michelle Koffa Dormoh
Community Equity Program Manager
Adrián Rafael Magaña
Director of Public Policy & Community Relations
The best ideas come when more voices are included in the process.
Check out Wilder's Community Engaged Public Policy Development process (CEPPD) that seeks to improve community engagement in public policy development.