For immediate release: AIOIC & Emerge partner on federal reentry project

Katie Fitzpatrick, director of external relations
612.341.3358, x125.

American Indian OIC (AIOIC) and its partner EMERGE Community Development have been awarded a $3.2 million Pathway Home grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. The Pathway Home project, which focuses on assisting justice-involved individuals in gaining meaningful employment, will be especially crucial during the economic crisis exacerbated by COVID-19 and the Uprising following the murder of Mr. George Floyd.

AIOIC President & CEO, Dr. Joe Hobot said, “Minnesota is one of only five states that imprisons African American residents at a rate 10 times greater than that of whites. Unfortunately, this ratio is surpassed only by the rate in which Minnesota’s Indigenous population is incarcerated. American Indians are 12 times more likely to be in state prisons than white people.”

To address these disparities, AIOIC and EMERGE will provide services (such as job training, career exploration, and counseling) to men and women in Minnesota’s prison system to facilitate their successful reentry to their home community. The project will serve two primary areas: Minneapolis’ Phillips Community, home to American Indian OIC and one of the largest urban Native populations in the nation; and Minneapolis’ Near North Community, home to Emerge and the state’s largest African-American community. Both communities’ poverty rates exceed the city of Minneapolis’s rate of 21 percent, and both communities’ crime rates exceed the city’s average of 6,200 crimes per 100,000 residents.

Structural disadvantages, most notably poverty and crime rates, are at the core of racial disparity in justice systems, according to EMERGE’s president, Mike Wynne. He cited a 2017 Minnesota Department of Corrections study that found prison releasees were significantly more likely to recidivate if they were a person of color and were returning to neighborhoods of concentrated disadvantage.

“A person’s odds of re-arrest are further exacerbated when disconnected from reentry supports,” he said. “Now, with a double-digit unemployment in the state due to multiple crises, our program is even more critical.”

The project is expected to launch in January. For more information, go to,, or listen to project leadership’s interview with WCCO radio.

About American Indian OIC
American Indian OIC was founded in 1979 as a practical resource and response to the considerable education and employment disparities faced by American Indians living in and around South Minneapolis. AIOIC’s mission is to empower American Indians to pursue career opportunities through individualized education, training, and human services in a culturally rich environment.

In the years since its founding, AIOIC has built a workforce of over 25,000 people from the Twin-Cities and tribal nations across the country, gaining national recognition as a leader in the workforce development field. Although created to support people of Native descent, American Indian OIC’s resources and programs are available to all people regardless of race, creed, age, gender, or sexual orientation.

About EMERGE Community Development
EMERGE was established as a division of Pillsbury United Communities in 1995, spinning off as an independent entity in 2007. EMERGE is a workforce development agency with Service Centers in North Minneapolis and Cedar-Riverside and Social Enterprise businesses in Minneapolis and the northern suburbs. Every year EMERGE helps thousands of people access jobs, financial coaching, and career training along pathways to brighter futures. We facilitate life change in neighborhoods where jobs are scarce, poverty levels are high, and racial/economic disparities prevail. Our programs have special expertise in supporting employment for participants overcoming a criminal background, new Americans with limited English skills, single parents living in poverty and seeking to end reliance on public assistance and individuals in need of career training to obtain living wage jobs.