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July 25 Secretary Clinton's Global Diaspora Forum: Celebrating the Minnesota Connection

Annual Event to Link Washington, D.C. with the Twin Cities' Diaspora Community

On July 25, 2012, at an event hosted by the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs and the Diaspora African Women's Network (DAWN), the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul will serve as the main satellite site for the Secretary of State's Second Annual Global Diaspora Forum. The Forum challenges diaspora communities to forge partnerships with the private sector, civil society and public institutions to make their engagements with their countries of origin or ancestry effective, scalable, and sustainable.

This year's Washington event, "Moving Forward by Giving Back," will focus on how new technology can empower and increase diaspora philanthropy, social entrepreneurship, volunteerism and social innovation. The Washington event will be linked to the University of Minnesota, where Diaspora delegates, nonprofit leaders and members of the business community will consider the role of Minnesota's diaspora communities in philanthropy, leadership and service.

Semhar Araia, founder and executive director of DAWN stated, "Given that Minnesota is home to so many communities who remain connected to their homelands of origin, either as new arrivals or over the course of multiple generations, we are proud to host DIASPORAS@ as a new platform to promote thoughtful dialogue and cross-cultural diaspora exchange for all Minnesotans."

According to Humphrey School Dean Eric Schwartz, "It's hard to imagine a more appropriate link to this Washington event than the Twin Cities, with a vibrant community of immigrants from all over the world. Somali-Americans, Hmong-Americans, Liberian-Americans, and so many immigrants now reside here, and there is a distinct commitment within our community to welcoming new arrivals. And the Humphrey School is part of that commitment - we engage the diaspora community here in our scholarship, our service and our training."

The Humphrey School of Public Affairs and the Diaspora

Faculty research and outreach focuses on immigration, the challenges faced by immigrants, and the contributions immigrants make to our communities and states. In a collaborative project with the Minnesota business community, Dr. Kathy Fennelly has researched and published on the economic impact of immigrants (The Economic Impact of Immigrants in Minnesota), illustrating how their work supports Minnesota business and industry. Dr. Ryan Allen has shown how the Somali and other new Americans are disproportionately affected by the state's foreclosure crisis, and he has worked with immigrant communities to develop economic development strategies.

Helped develop a plan to empower Somali Americans to complete the Census
Our teaching and student co-curricular activities include a special focus on the Cedar Riverside neighborhood adjacent to campus where students are involved in a number of special projects each year. (http://www.leadership.umn.edu/student_initiatives/chance/index.html) Teams of students have worked with Somali community members to encourage participation among elders in the 2010 Census, to identify workforce development needs such as literacy training, and to tackle neighborhood issues like public safety and street and traffic improvements. Our award winning program, CHANCE - the Cedar Humphrey Action for Neighborhood Collaborative Engagement - annually hosts activities which bring together University of Minnesota faculty, staff, and students with Somali and other East African residents of the neighborhood.

Dean Eric Schwartz, former Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration, remains deeply engaged in international humanitarian and refugee resettlement policies impacting immigrants.

The conference will be held on Wednesday, July 25 from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Coffman Memorial Union Theater at the University of Minnesota. Minnesota-based diaspora delegates, nonprofit leaders, and business and community leaders will discuss the theme "Moving Forward By Giving Back." Attendees will explore the role of Minnesota's diaspora communities in philanthropy, leadership, and service. This event is free and open to the public. Registration is available at diasporasmsp.eventbrite.com. For more information, visit www.diasporasmsp.com.

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