Collaboration and Community Engagement

Collaborations and Activities of the Department of Human Rights

The Department of Human Rights is committed to facilitating better dialog among administrative agencies and advocacy organizations, state ethnic councils, the State Council on Disability and community organizations.

Below are some of the collaborative issues and activities the Department is involved with including criminal background checks, financial literacy, prevention of school bullying, Minnesota's Olmstead Subcabinet Committee, homelessness, pay equity, and guidance for employers on the same-sex marriage law.

Minnesota's Ethnic Councils

Department of Human Rights hosts Community Conversations throughout Minnesota

The Minnesota Department of Human Rights recently hosed a series of Community Conversations on Minnesota’s Ethnic Councils to discuss how to best maximize the positive impacts of Minnesota’s Ethnic Councils. More information on the Community Conversations.


Collaborating to end the cycle of homelessness in Minnesota

On any given night, it is estimated that there are 10,000 Minnesotans who are homeless, including nearly 3,500 children with their parents. The Department of Human Rights is one of eleven state agencies that are part of the Minnesota Interagency Council on Homelessness. The Council has developed a two-year, statewide plan to prevent and end homelessness for all Minnesotans.

Equal Pay

Department to enforce equal pay provision of Women’s Economic Security Act

On May 11, 2014, Governor Mark Dayton signed the Women’s Economic Security Act (WESA) into law. The law creates an obligation for certain state contractors to obtain an Equal Pay Certificate from the Minnesota Department of Human Rights prior to executing a contract. The new law concerning Equal Pay Certificates can be found in the Minnesota Human Rights Act at Minn. Stat. §363A.44. Find the answers to your most frequently asked questions about the new law on our website.

Criminal Background Checks

New law offers a second chance to many

Governor Mark Dayton signed a bill expanding the "Ban the Box" law to private employers that will go into effect beginning Jan. 1, 2014. "Ban the Box" has applied to public employers in Minnesota since 2009. The law requires public, and now private, employers to wait until a job applicant has been selected for an interview or a conditional offer of employment has been extended before asking a job applicant about criminal records or conducting a criminal record check. This law offers the vast majority of individuals with a non-violent criminal record a second chance at an opportunity for employment to better their lives. The following link has more information about "Ban the Box".

Diversity and Inclusion Council

Diversity efforts in state government

When Governor Mark Dayton signed Executive Order 15-02, he established the Diversity and Inclusion Council to ensure inclusion for all Minnesotans.

The Council’s aim is to improve the recruiting and retention of state employees from diverse backgrounds, improve the contracting process for businesses owned by Minnesotans from diverse backgrounds, and promote civic engagement from all communities in the State of Minnesota.

Education Diversity Task Force

Educational opportunities for all

The Education Diversity Task Force was convened as an organized effort to help align the most pressing public policy issues affecting constituents of the state ethnic councils and the State Council on Disability with the governor's seven priorities for education. The task force was established in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Education.

The Education Diversity Task Force is comprised of member representatives from the Council on Black Minnesotans, the Chicano Latino Affairs Council, the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council, the Council on Asian-Pacific Minnesotans, the State Council on Disability as well as other community and government stakeholders.

The task force has developed a list of common priorities and concerns affecting their member constituents, including:

  • closing the achievement gap;
  • increasing cultural competency and sensitivity courses for teachers;
  • developing a skilled workforce;
  • increasing Early Childhood Education funding;
  • disaggregating student achievement data;
  • increasing integration to ensure inclusion among general education and special education teachers and
  • increased funding for public schools.

In 2013, MDHR will continue to convene the task force and other key stakeholders including the Minnesota Department of Education and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, in an effort to strategically select and narrow priorities for possible action during this or next Minnesota legislative session.

50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act

Department video features insightful interviews with Minnesota civl rights leaders

On July 2, 2014 President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, making it illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. The Minnesota Department of Human Rights commemorated this event with “Living the Legacy,” an original video production that aired throughout the summer and is available on YouTube. The video features Minnesota civil rights activists sharing their experiences and opinions on the events that led to the passage of the Act, and its continuing impact on society today.

Financial Literacy

Celebrating financial literacy month

April 2013 was declared Financial Literacy Month in Minnesota by Governor Mark Dayton. The Department of Commerce took the lead in creating a coalition of state agencies, including the Department of Human Rights, non-profits, schools, local government entities and other interested individuals to provide outreach and education events across Minnesota for Financial Literacy Month. The month concluded with the third annual Financial Literacy Round Table where participants gathered to share concerns, successes, and brainstorm about future action to improve financial literacy across the state.

Financial Literacy and Predatory Lending

"On the Margins: People and Communities Locked Out of the American Dream" was produced by the Department of Human Rights in partnership with CTV North Suburbs as part of Financial Literacy Month in Minnesota and includes two separate half-hour episodes. The first half hour looks at predatory home lending, payday loans, credit discrimination and other practices that unfairly take advantage of people who are financially struggling. What is being done to curb these practices? What more should done? These questions are explored by a panel of experts.

The second half hour looks at the challenges facing individuals who are struggling with these and other practical financial issues associated with home ownership, financing an education, planning for retirement and dealing with debt. A panel of experts offers practical information and about what to do, and what not to do, when facing these issues.

Minnesota's Olmstead Subcabinet & Olmstead Plan

Supporting inclusive communities

Minnesota’s Olmstead Plan is requesting opinions on the proposed revised Olmstead Plan before it’s officially submitted to the Court on August 10. The Plan will be before the Court because, on May 6, 2015, the Court in Jensen, et. al. v. Department of Human Services, et. al. Olmstead was ordered to submit a revised Plan. Originally, the Court ordered the Plan to be submitted by July 10, 2015 but extended the deadline to August 10because Members of the Olmstead Subcabinet, state agency staff members and parties involved in the Jensen settlement, have met several times to discuss the plan resulting in valuable discussions on Plan goals, and the data used to achieve those goals.  

A Magistrate Judge is currently working with Olmstead and the parties to the Jensen Settlement Agreement by facilitating discussions about the Olmstead Plan. Your comments will help inform Olmstead and the parties as they finalize the proposed Plan revisions. 

Following is a timeline for revisions:

  • Wednesday, July 24: Revised versions of the Olmstead Plan’s measurable goals available for review on the Olmstead website.
  • Friday, July 31: A full version of the draft Plan will be posted on the website.
  • Monday, August 3: proposed revised Plan will go to the Subcabinet for approval on.
  • Monday, August 10: The proposed revised Plan will be submitted to the Court on.

How to Submit Your Comments:
-          Online: Follow instructions for the online form on the Olmstead Participate page.
-          Email:
-          Mail: Olmstead Implementation Office, 400 Sibley Street, Suite 255 St. Paul, MN  55101
-          Phone: 651-296-8081 (it’s ok to leave your comments the voicemail)
-          In person: Attend the Olmstead Subcabinet meeting on Monday, August 3 from 3-6 p.m.

Sign up to speak in advance by contacting Tristy Auger at or 651-296-8081. Sign-up will also be available at the meeting. More information about this meeting is available on the Olmstead website.
More information on Minnesota’s Olmstead Plan is available on the Olmstead website.


On January 28, 2013, after considering recommendations from the state Olmstead Planning Committee, Governor Mark Dayton issued Executive Order establishing an Olmstead Subcabinet to develop and implement a comprehensive Minnesota Olmstead Plan. The Minnesota Department of Human Rights is a member of the Subcabinet.


Minnesota's Olmstead Plan, drafted by the Subcabinet, became official on November 1, 2013.

Prevention of School Bullying

Safe schools for all students

The Governor's Task Force on the Prevention of School Bullying was established by by executive order in February 2012. The Minnesota Department of Human Rights was one of the organizations appointed to the task force. The task force was charged with examining current trends in bullying, intimidation and harassment in Minnesota schools and to review existing related laws and regulations. From this review and input from experts on the topic, the task force defined bullying, harassment and intimidation and has provided policy recommendations to the Governor and Legislature in a final report, sent to the Governor on August 1, 2012. For more information about the task force and its work, visit Bullying Prevention Task Force.

Same-Sex Marriage Toolkit

Same-sex marriage FAQ and more

On May 14, 2013 Governor Mark Dayton signed into law a bill legalizing same-sex marriages in Minnesota. An overview of the law, frequently asked questions and a video message from Commissioner Kevin Lindsey are included in a toolkit developed by the MDHR to help Minnesotans understand this new law.

Workforce Goals

Meaningful workforce opportunity

In 2012 the commissioner of Human Rights issued revised goals for the hiring of minorities and women on state funded construction projects, effective April 4, 2012. The revised goals more accurately reflect Minnesota's changing demographics and increasing diversity. The goals ensure that the state will have a capable workforce to build and maintain a 21st century infrastructure.

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