Meet the Local Organizations Empowering BIPOC Community Members

June 15, 2022

Family Rise Together

ChaQuana McEntyre came up with the idea of Family Rise Together (FRT) in 2014 with the vision to develop a culturally equitable kinship and father engagement service that will provide wealth-building support, resources, advocacy, and training that can have a substantial impact on the community and can be replicated nationally. What started as an idea has now flourished into a promising organization.

ChaQuana holds a Master’s Degree in the field of Social Services from the University of Minnesota Duluth. Prior to becoming the Founder and CEO of FRT, she has over 10 years of experience with Child Protection Services and has partnered with Social Services providers and St. Louis County Children and Family Services. While ChaQuana is the biological mother of four children she continues to have an impact on the lives of many men, women, and children.

Learn more about the many valuable community programs housed within Family Rise Together below.

Growing Kinship Connection (GKC) is a culturally equitable kinship navigation service that increases the well-being of children and families, with a unique focus on engaging fathers/men to be active in their children’s lives while understanding the historical trauma of slavery and the impact of the prison pipeline.

GKC reduces risk factors and increases protective factors for children and youth by providing:


Child Welfare & Protection are complex systems consisting of many governmental agencies working to ensure the safety of children. GKC comes alongside families to educate and empower them to better navigate the complexities of the system.

GKC provides resources created through partnerships and in consultation with community members. The resources currently available focus on navigating the court system and becoming a better parent, with an emphasis on fathers/men.

Family Mentorship

We work alongside families to educate, help problem-solve, provide for child-related emergency needs, and nurture familial bonds. This service is available in North and South St. Louis County to support the well-being of children in our community.

Support Groups

Support groups are a place for peer-to-peer support. The fathers and men-specific support group has been launched providing a safe, warm space for men facilitated by community members in Southern St. Louis County.

GKC intends on launching additional support groups for grandparents and other relatives such as aunts/uncles and adult siblings in both Northern & Southern St. Louis County.

Relative Search

We offer a national relative search to avoid foster care placements. This service identifies potential kin caregivers across state lines to determine additional options that maintain familial and cultural connections.

How you can help:

GKC welcomes backpack donations (school supplies, toothbrushes, children’s clothing, etc.), as well as financial donations to support the program. If you would like to donate backpack items, please contact LaVita Johnson at

To learn more about Growing Kinship Connection, volunteer your time, or make a donation, visit

Pursue Housing is an equitable housing program within Family Rise Together. Applicants we serve are fathers with a focus on the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of the Color) population seeking long-term housing support and case management services.

Our tenants have been previously incarcerated with mental health needs, with children, or with a focus on reunification.

How you can help:

Pursue Housing is always looking for male volunteers to work with the men housed within the program, donation of men’s clothing, and any information about local houses available to rent as the program’s needs grow. Contact if you are interested in getting involved or have information on rental properties to share.

Launched in April 2022, Healthy Place is a low-cost alternative, high-impact program that generates tremendous community awareness and support through the provision of high-quality, culturally-specific services around mental health. We promote the well-being of individuals with mental illness by providing accessible, quality, culturally-specific mental health services that emphasize trust, respect, dignity, and compassion.

How you can help:

Help spread the word about the new program and make referrals to individuals in need. Applicants can visit to apply.

The Micro-Enterprise program provides technical assistance, referrals, advocacy, and business coaching services. The entrepreneurs are primarily BIPOC and Communities of Poverty members.

How you can help:

Local BIPOC entrepreneurs will be tabling at the Twin Ports Juneteenth celebration on Saturday, June 18th, at Barker’s Island. Consider attending this pivotal community event and purchasing from these talented businesses. Learn more at

To learn more about Family Rise Together, make a donation, or sign up for the newsletter, visit

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Family Freedom Center

The Family Freedom Center is an organization dedicated to empowering Black community members and giving them a space to learn about and celebrate their culture. Xavier Bell founded Family Freedom Center as a program at Community Action Duluth in 2015. In 2016, the FFC moved on from CAD to become its own organization. Xavier’s son Jacob Bell took over as Executive Director of the organization after his father, a beloved community icon and activist, passed away in 2019. Family Freedom Center seeks to empower the Black community by reconstructing socio-cultural narratives and unapologetically embracing what it means to be Black, both historically and in the present day. Family Freedom Center does this by facilitating culturally specific and inclusive spaces aimed to engage, empower, and educate community members in Duluth and the broader Twin Ports area.

Learn more about the services Family Freedom Center provides below.

Freedom Youth Start-Ups (FYSU) is focused on supporting the business development of entrepreneurs of color aged 18-26. The overall goal of FYSU is to create an entrepreneurial ecosystem that empowers Black business owners to build generational wealth around their culture and heritage.

We provide safe spaces for growing and learning, free course material, food, childcare, and technology. We also provide professional advice on how to protect your ideas while you’re learning how to turn your hustle into a business.

FYSU phases include:

  • Entrepreneurial Workshops
  • Paid Internship Trainings
  • Credit Building & Financial Literacy
  • Micro-Loans for Start-Ups
  • Placement & Real Estate
  • Capacity Building Loans

Overall, this program is not an alternative to general education but rather removes the roadblocks that some young entrepreneurs may have when they enter the professional arena.

How you can help:

FYSU is always looking for technical assistance support, specifically professionals or educators willing to volunteer their time to assist the program’s entrepreneurs (graphic artists, accountants, etc.). If you are interested in lending your time and talents to this program, please email

To learn more, visit

Racial Awareness Workshops (RAW) is a fee-for-service program by Family Freedom Center. To gain a competitive edge and succeed in a multi-racial world, it is important to understand and respect the difference of those we do business with. RAW gives you the opportunity to gain this competitive edge through content designed by experts and tailored to your team. Our tools range from self-assessment, education, and team building to ensure your employees are prepared to engage with diverse coworkers and clients. In addition, by choosing RAW, your commitment to diversity & inclusion is established upfront; all profits from RAW workshops are donated directly to Family Freedom Center.

For more information about Racial Awareness Workshops, please call (218) 522-4445.

Freedom Farms is a series of Black urban farms designed to be both gathering spaces and spaces for increased food access. Freedom Farms is a joint endeavor between Family Freedom Center and Lincoln Park Resource Center. We currently have two locations in the Central Hillside and Lincoln Park Neighborhood, with plans for a third (coming soon) and many more to follow. Freedom Farms was created by the Black Community for the whole community and was founded on the principles of social equity and food sovereignty.  At all Freedom Farms locations, we offer free produce pick up, gardening & food preparation classes, community events, skills-building workshops, and environmentally conscious workshops for community members of all ages.

How you can help:

We can use volunteers for all sorts of different types of projects at Freedom Farms locations depending on the day and the season. Please register here if you would like to be on our list of interested volunteers and our staff will reach out as opportunities arise.

Family Freedom Center provides multiple programs designed to reduce isolation and create culturally inclusive spaces for elders. Conversations & Coffee is a cross-generational event designed with Elders in mind, to give us an opportunity to connect with one another. Join FFC and community members at our weekly gatherings. Connecting and getting in tune with what’s going on in our neighborhoods.

Family Freedom Center knows that young Kings, Queens, and Royalty need unapologetically Black spaces too. We work to create those spaces for our youth. This includes the FFC Royalty outdoors programming, Kickstart, and other programs created to uplift Black Excellence in the Twin Ports.

The Adulting Basics Courses are a series of life readiness workshops for young Kings, Queens, and Royals who are transitioning from adolescence to adulthood. In the ABCs, youth age 16 to 24 set a vision and clear goals for their future and begin working on action steps toward meeting those goals.  Through FFC’s culturally-responsive and empowerment-focused workshop series, students are equipped with the tools that they need to succeed in the adult world. This program is not an alternative to a general education, but rather covers many topics that are not often covered in the traditional classroom.


  • Career Pathways: Knowing your goals and how to get there
  • Work Readiness: Applying for jobs & Resume Writing
  • Entrepreneurial Development: Owning your own full/part-time business
  • Wealth Building: Banking, Investing, and Credit Building
  • Leadership Skills: Interpersonal Communication & Community Involvement
  • Empowerment: Personal Development & Health and Wellness

This program, in partnership with YES Duluth, also offers industry-specific paid internships and job placement, as well as wraparound educational, mental health, housing, and financial assistance programs through Life House Duluth. Youth will also work one-on-one with professionally trained mentors who will assess strengths, skills, and interests, as well as identify, and address barriers to achieving goals.

The FFC Royalty program starts with a Saturday morning workshop and check-ins for youth. Then, during the week, FFC staff will lead outdoor activities for Black families.

The purpose of this program is to ensure that our youth have the opportunity to explore all the adventures that make the Northland enjoyable, yet have been systematically designed to exclude people of color. We will do this by creating unapologetically Black space within existing recreational programs. Furthermore, FFC will ensure students will have the gear and lessons they need, as well as representative chaperones.

STARBASE is a 4-day program for 4th to 7th graders that takes place at YMCA Camp Miller every summer. The STARBASE program through FFC is organized by our youth coordinator with content created by “STARBASE explorers summer STEM camp” and facilitated by Charity Rupp. FFC covers the cost of transportation & meals. There is space for 10-12 students each summer.

How you can help:

FFC Youth Programs can always benefit from donations. To learn more about Family Freedom Center, donate, or sign up to volunteer, visit

To learn more about Family Freedom Center,  donate, or sign up to volunteer, visit

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Commitment to Change is a collaborative effort between Lake Superior College and the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce to build a more inclusive and diverse community through education, resources, opportunities, and partnerships. This robust Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion resource guide has been curated from experts across the Twin Ports to share with your organizations in honor of Juneteenth.

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