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Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota

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Color image of the interior of the Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota (CSCM), 2017. Photograph by Ibrahim Hirsi.

Interior of the Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota (CSCM), 2017. Photograph by Ibrahim Hirsi.

Founded in 1994, the Minneapolis-based Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota (CSCM) is one of the oldest Somali-operated nonprofit organizations in the state. For more than two decades, it has provided job and education services as well as health care and legal assistance to members of the community who face language and cultural barriers.

At the end of 1991, the first wave of Somali refugees escaping the bloody civil war in their East African country began to start a new life in Minnesota. Back then, many newcomers spoke little or no English. Because of the language barrier, most of them struggled to find jobs and access social services.

Around the same time, other Somalis who had immigrated to other parts of the United States before the civil war began moving to the state to join the new refugees. They came from as far away as California, Texas, and New York.

By 1993, the number of Somali residents in Minnesota reached into the hundreds. Many of them were in dire need of basic social services. They needed assistance filling out housing and job applications, making doctors’ appointments, enrolling children in schools, and using public transportation.

In 1994, a group of Somali refugees banded together to respond to the growing needs of community members. Many of them had worked as educators and public servants before the civil war in Somalia. The result was the CSCM, a nonprofit organization that provides Somali residents with job training and then connects them to job prospects. The group also offers members of the community housing and education services.

CSCM has served as a cultural and language bridge that connects Somali refugees and immigrants to employers, school officials, and housing authorities throughout the state. These services have made CSCM a one-stop social service hub that draws between 200 and 250 clients each month. A majority are new Somali residents of the Twin Cities metro area with limited education or English skills.

CSCM provides diverse services. Two of its signature programs are the Newcomer Academy and Shaqodoon Employment Solutions (introduced in 2016). Through the Newcomer Academy program, the organization works with Somali students entering local public schools to offer after-school support services to help them graduate on time.

Through its Shaqodoon Employment Solutions, CSCM assists Somali youth and unskilled immigrant job-seekers in the Twin Cities metro area. CSCM staff teach them how to write resumes, apply for jobs, and prepare for job interviews. The program also connects residents to employers with low-skill job vacancies.

Aside from its education and employment programs, CSCM, which is led by executive director Mohamud Noor, helps people with housing needs and language barriers as well as those facing immigration issues and deportation. Its mission is “[t]o strengthen the capacity of Somalis in Minnesota to become contributing members of society, while keeping their culture.”

Since it was founded, CSCM has been based in Minneapolis’ Cedar Riverside neighborhood. The area has special significance in the community as the home of the largest concentration of Somali people in the US. It has produced both the nation’s first Somali American legislator, Ilhan Omar, and its first Somali American city council member, Abdi Warsame.

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Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota.
http://csc-mn.org/

Noor, Mohamud (executive director of the Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota), interview with the author, June 17, 2017.

Williams, Chris. “New Census Data: Somali Population Grows.” Associated Press (via Minneapolis Star Tribune), October 21, 2011.

Related Images

Color image of the interior of the Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota (CSCM), 2017. Photograph by Ibrahim Hirsi.
Color image of the interior of the Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota (CSCM), 2017. Photograph by Ibrahim Hirsi.
Color image of participants in a leadership development program gather around Malala Yousafzai (at center, in green) at the Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota in August 2016.
Color image of participants in a leadership development program gather around Malala Yousafzai (at center, in green) at the Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota in August 2016.
Color image of Mohamud Noor, executive director of the Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota (CSCM). Photograph by Ibrahim Hirsi, April 24, 2017.
Color image of Mohamud Noor, executive director of the Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota (CSCM). Photograph by Ibrahim Hirsi, April 24, 2017.
Exterior of the Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota (CSCM), 2017. Photograph by Ibrahim Hirsi.
Exterior of the Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota (CSCM), 2017. Photograph by Ibrahim Hirsi.
Color image of the he skyline of the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis viewed from the north. At center are the Riverside Plaza complex of apartment buildings and Mixed Blood Theatre. Photograph by Ibrahim Hirsi, May 3, 2017.
Color image of the he skyline of the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis viewed from the north. At center are the Riverside Plaza complex of apartment buildings and Mixed Blood Theatre. Photograph by Ibrahim Hirsi, May 3, 2017.

Turning Point

In 1994, as a growing number of Somali refugees arrive in Minnesota, a group of Somali men organizes the Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota (CSCM) in the Cedar Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis.

Chronology

1991

Somali refugees begin to arrive in Minnesota.

1994

The Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota (CSCM) is founded by a group of Somali refugees.

2000

According to an official figure, the Somali population in Minnesota is 11,164. Community estimates place the number much higher, at more than 50,000.

2010

Officially, about 36,000 Somalis are living in Minnesota. Community members assert that the figure is closer to 70,000.

2016

CSCM launches its Shaqodoon Empoyement Solutions program.

2017

An estimated 100,000 Somali people live in Minnesota. A majority live in Hennepin County.