Program Created in Minnesota to Help At-Risk Somali Youth

The non-profit organization "Youthprise" is in charge of distributing $400,000 from the U.S. Department of Justice and private groups. The goal is to stop young Somalis from going overseas to fight for terror groups.

This money is going to groups with experience working with youth in the Somali community. Minnesota is home to more Somali immigrants than any other state. The largest concentration is in Hennepin County.


On Wednesday evening, 30 organizations met behind closed doors to find out how to apply for the grant money.

The timeline is aggressive. Proposals are due Jan. 29, 2016. Winners will be notified Feb. 26, 2016. And those selected are being asked to show results in one year.

Youthprise President Wokie Weah told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the Somali community wants to be engaged and needs to be engaged in helping Somali youth feel connected.

"I absolutely think this is a great strategy because I know a lot of Somali young people are feeling a sense of isolation right now," she said. "And there are other issues they're facing beside terrorism that they are facing that are very structural."

Weah said local Somali youth face racism, anti-immigrant sentiment and Islamophobia, and that opens them up to terror recruitment.

She said the groups selected to receive grants will help young Somalis feel they have a stake and are part of something here in Minnesota.

Minneapolis is one of three cities that are part of the federal pilot program to prevent violent extremism in the United States. The program allocates $1 million to be spent locally. The other $600,000 is already designated for programs like Big Brothers Big Sisters to mentor Somali youth. The city of Minneapolis and the state are getting money for job training.

Youthprise is giving $400,000 in grants out to local groups with great ideas for tackling this problem.


Kevin Doran

Copyright 2018 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company


More Minnesota school districts discuss school start options

Walz, state leaders highlight emergency assistance resources for Minnesotans

New website tracks broadband access and internet speed across Minnesota

New murder charge filed against man after infant dies

MDH: 7 new COVID-19 deaths, 867 new cases