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, and guidance for employers on the same-sex marriage law.

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

On April 4, 2011 Governor Mark Dayton signed executive order 91-14 which reestablished the Affirmative Action Council that was convened under the Carlson Administration. The Council was later renamed the Diversity and Inclusion Council.

The Diversity and Inclusion Council is charged with increasing diversity among the state's workforce and vendors, as well as developing a long-range plan and recommendations to help implement the state's Affirmative Action Program. In working to comply with these tasks, the Diversity and Inclusion Council is expected to collaborate with the various state ethnic councils, the Council on Disability.

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.

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

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.

State Councils

Collaboration with Minnesota's Councils

The Department of Human Rights has been meeting regularly with the State Ethnic Councils and the State of Council on Disability to serve to facilitate and act as conduit between the Councils and the administrative agencies.

A notable example of this role is when MDHR hosted a listening session in spring of 2012 between all of the State Councils with Commissioner of Health Ed Ehlinger, Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) Commissioner Phillips, and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MNSCU) Chancellor Steve Rosenstone.

For the 2013 legislative session, the Department collaborated with the State Council on Disability and many other disability advocacy groups to help pass new legislation to provide more protections for people who use service animals.

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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