The episodes in this section are the stories of Minnesotans on the negative end of socioeconomic disparities. The introduction highlights the Itasca Project and the Brookings Institution's Mind the Gap report. The Itasca project is a group of business leaders and policy-makers who are concerned about the future business vitality and competitiveness of the region. According to the report, class is one of the three major sets of disparities in the Twin Cities, the other two being race and place. |
Class and race disparities often overlap because income disparities disproportionately affect minorities, but the overall gap between "haves" and "have-nots" is growing, endangering the prosperity and economic competitiveness of the region in the future. As the baby boomers are preparing to retire, the region will need as many or more educated and skilled workers to replace them. Yet, current trends suggest that economic disparities will stand in the way of obtaining a quality workforce. Addressing these disparities will require joint efforts on behalf of the government, civic organizations, businesses and community leaders. The Itasca project hopes to engage communities around the region in understanding and eliminating these disparities.
The stories in this section focus on different aspects of class disparities such as welfare support, access to healthcare, housing, etc. Through a look at immigrant labor union members, a welfare mother's efforts to get out of poverty, and a student mother's struggles with balancing work, school, and home commitments while facing homelessness, we see the pervasive challenges of class. The stories also show that these class challenges are not inescapable, and highlight efforts, ideas, organizations and individuals working for a brighter future of Minnesota.