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Have you Heard About the Possible Merger?

SECIA Merger Study Update

The SECIA board will discuss and decide if SECIA wants to further pursue joining forces with other neighborhoods of South East Minneapolis. As has been discussed previously, neighborhood organizations across the city are struggling to find a way to make ends meet; and SECIA is no exception. As SECIA’s fiscal year draws to a close the board has been examining the bleak prospects of living within our means. The reality of program and staffing cuts is setting in and finding a way for SECIA to continue its role in SE Como is essentially impossible. At this month’s board meeting, the board will entertain one potential solution, merging with other neighborhoods in SE Minneapolis. This is the culmination of over a year of planning and discussions, yet even this vote will only mark the beginning of the next phase. If SECIA elects to remain in the discussion regarding a merged organization, representatives from SE Como will work with people from each of the other neighborhoods wishing to join forces to draft new bylaws creating an equitable and representative organization that reflects the diversity of our neighborhoods. However, if the SECIA board elects to withdraw from discussions of the merged organization, then the board will have to continue our work of cutting spending and programming to balance our budget.

It’s All About the Money

One of the main motivators for merging is that it provides a sustainable model for each of the neighborhood organizations to achieve their programming goals. If we examine the current spending patterns of each of the neighborhoods combined we observe that the vast majority of funds are spent on personnel that are essential for the delivery of programming. While the budgetary details of the merged organization are not yet determined, it is likely that personnel will be its major expense as well. However, by pooling our resources it is anticipated that the merged organization will have an annual budget of $250,000, enough to hire 1.5-2.5 full-time professionals. Having these dedicated staff will allow both the administrative details to be streamlined and for them to interface with neighborhood volunteers: facilitating grant submissions, executing programming ideas, and building community. It is also expected that the merged organization will spend less of its total budget on operating expenses such as rent, insurance, and professional services. In addition to these cost savings, the merged organization will have additional resources from the city by incorporating the University Neighborhood. The merger working group’s estimated budget is based on several conservative assumptions regarding other sources of income culminating in assumptions that grants and donations will be available at approximately 65% of the current funding. However, with staff devoted to competing for grants, it seems likely that these sources will be even greater than the current levels.

The Next Phase

All Minneapolis neighborhood organizations are entering a new phase of existence, for many this will be one of austerity. Programs, even popular ones, will be canceled and relegated to the collective memories of the neighborhood residents. When contemplating the changes that may accompany merging with other neighborhoods, it is essential to also consider the changes that await us if we do not merge. Looking down the path of solitude where SECIA does not merge, program and staff cuts are evident. Merging organizations after decades of existence is not a well-traveled path; however, there is an opportunity to build an organization that is responsive to the needs of the community. In addition to the fiscal benefits, there is a tremendous opportunity to build an equitable organization from the ground up. Setting in place a solid structure that will truly represent those living in SE Minneapolis. It remains to be seen if this will make all the difference.


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Learn more about our Reimagining & Racial Equity work

SECIA Statement of Response to Amir Locke



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