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Fellowship Report (2004)

Fellow: Michael Scharenbroich

Fellowship Site: Project for Pride in Living (PPL)
Minneapolis, MN

Brief History of Organization (founding and salient steps):

PPL was founded in 1972, with a belief that rehabbing houses to create a safe place to call home would help low-income families become self-sufficient. Since then they have branched into separate areas that focus on the specific needs to maintain self-sufficiency.

Departments/Programs in the Organization:
Affordable Housing
Jobs and Employment Readiness Training
Personal & Community Support Services
Youth Development

Responsibilities/Duties/Tasks undertaken by the Fellow:
I worked within the youth development program. Organized and guided youth group activities in a summer time program to help inner city youth experience the positives of their city. I assisted in the development of a third future College House neighborhood location. The College House is just one of many PPL community building projects. College House is an academically focused, community-based program, utilizing and expanding community assets through the participation of parents, teachers, social workers, colleges, and other community organizations. These partners work together to help young people currently struggling academically do better in school by providing academic tutoring, an encouraging environment, and adult role models. I interviewed former college house residents and students who participated in the program. A majority of the students and mentors found the College House to be a positive place on the corner. It brought the youth of the neighborhood over to join in a place that was safe, educational and could help develop the assets that youth need. PPL has developed support systems that provide a holistic approach to assist lower income families. One direction of assistance is in youth development. I helped with the City Explorers program which assists inner-city children and youth in building the developmental assets they need to thrive and become contributing members of their community. Exploring the city with youth gave them an appreciation for where they lived. Discover the value of serving their community
Develop positive behaviors and learning experiences through interactions with adults, community members, and other peers


I feel that this fellowship gave me the opportunity to begin to understand the multilateral relationships within a cities support organizations. The work that I accomplished helped me better understand the human right needs of affordable housing and poverty. PPL serves young people living in high-poverty neighborhoods; Phillips, Central and Near North in Minneapolis, and Selby-Dale and Summit-University in St. Paul and low-income households. Most of the youth served by PPL Youth Development programs live in affordable housing and qualify for free or reduced lunch. In the last school year, 93 percent of participants in our Youth Development programs were young people of color, including children of immigrant families from east Africa, Afghanistan, Mexico and Central America, many of whom experience educational disparities.

I have learned that the majority of the children in the families that PPL serves face multiple barriers to successful development and school achievement. Many are English Language Learners and have a history of low test scores. A significant proportion of these young people frequently miss school and/or change schools because of housing instability and other family factors. The struggle of parents to find a living wage job, domestic tension springing from the frustrations of poverty also affect the chance of success for these children.

The problems facing disadvantaged children and their families have grown in recent years. Today, low-income family stability is further threatened by governmental budget cuts, and test results demonstrate that children of color are being left behind by current education systems.

These factors affect our community as a whole. Indicators of family distress; violence in school, crime, school failure, children living in poverty, drugs, gangs and child abuse are serious problems in the Twin Cities. Concentrated in the core neighborhoods that PPL serves, poverty and crime greatly exceed the overall regional average. In Minneapolis, nearly one half of all Phillips residents live in households with incomes below the poverty line, and 71 percent of children in Phillips live in families that receive food stamps. These statistics are dramatic when compared to the relative wealth of the metropolitan area as a whole. Although low-income neighborhoods are home to individuals and families with extraordinary resilience and strength, many kids growing up in such communities will reach adulthood without the tools they need to parent, work, and contribute to society.


This was my first experience in the non-profit field because of this I was concerned about what it was that I could offer to the organization. As I developed an understanding of how the organization operated I went through a series of self reflection questions that are common to new experiences. Each question was answered as focused on the issues that involved the people I worked with. I had to begin to understand the effects of poverty on residents of a community not more than a few miles away from mine. A personal challenge was the commute to and from work. The transition between two different communities that had contradictory standards of living lead me to want to understand the roots of wealth disparities within neighborhoods.

How has your motivation for human rights work changed/altered or remained the same?

The fellowship provided me with the opportunity to realize that this is the type of work that I want to pursue both educationally and professionally. As an undergraduate college student I can honestly say that there is still so much that I need to learn in this field. Human rights work is a field that needs workers that can see the world with eyes of compassion, understanding of equality and devotion to justice. The experience with PPL has taught me how important human rights work is. This organization worked primarily with housing issues in a metro area and the impact of poverty on such. These are issues that are relevant to the human rights field because they deal in the inequalities of life in the cities. I want to learn more about how to break the “cycle of poverty” and develop programs that work.

How did your perspectives on the world change from interning at a local/national/ international human rights organization?
Working with PPL changed my perspective of how I viewed the city that I thought that I had known. When I used to look at the skyline of Minneapolis I used to think about the glamour of skyscrapers and the business of the streets. My point of view has become more focused to a house to house level. Each neighborhood is different and it became more prevalent traveling into work and around work. I realized that there are boundary lines that effect social and economic disparities. Within these areas, namely Phillips neighborhood, there was a commitment by its citizens to a block by block effort of community organizations. PPL has had a connection to a majority of these blocks so I became familiar with the self-sufficiency support net.

After completion of your fellowship, how do you anticipate bringing your fellowship experience back home to your local community?

This experience helped me to better form opinions about the work of non-profit assistance organizations. I plan on going back to my college community with the knowledge of how these organizations are operated. In every city there is the need for community support organizations. I can use my experiences to bring a different opinion and strategic outlook to developing programs that work towards self-sufficiency for those who are affected by poverty disparities.

Organizational Profile

Full Name of Organization: Project for Pride in Living

Abbreviation and initials commonly used: PPL
Organizational Address:
1035 E. Franklin Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55404

Telephone number: 612-455-5100 - Main
Email address:
Names of Executive Director and Senior Staff:
Steve Cramer, President and Executive Director
Susan Baldwin, Deputy Executive Director

Objectives of the Organization:

To assist lower income individuals and families to work toward self-sufficiency by providing housing, jobs and training.

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