Six organizations that work with young Somalis in Minnesota have been awarded $300,000 in grants as part of a federal pilot project designed to combat terrorism recruitment, the nonprofit group that is administering the funds announced Thursday.
The grant recipients include a youth athletics group, a program that empowers Somali parents, an organization that plans to enhance youth employment opportunities and a group that addresses mental health issues for refugees. An additional $100,000 has been set aside to help with professional development and other efforts designed to build up the programs so they can sustain themselves in the future.
Marcus Pope, director of partnerships and external relations for Youthprise, the nonprofit administering the money, said investing in youth development is crucial. He said Minnesota is home to many young Somalis who are creative and bright, but a lot of them face "formidable challenges, including a sense of alienation, a search for identity as new immigrants, unemployment and poverty that can open them to recruitment by extremist groups."