Tusaalo Mentoring – Ubah Medical Academy Microgrant

Project Details by Fiscal Year
2020 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Fund Source
Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund
Tusaalo Mentoring – Ubah Medical Academy
Recipient Type
Non-Profit Business/Entity
Start Date
December 2019
End Date
May 2020
Activity Type
Counties Affected
Project Overview

Tusaalo Mentorship Program is an innovative program developed with the goal of connecting Somali youth with local Somali professionals through culturally-specific and school-based mentorship. In Somali, to be a "tusaalo" is to be an example, which is precisely the role we envision for Somali professionals. Focusing on 9th and 10th graders, our goal is to establish the foundations necessary for increased academic engagement and performance. Mentoring will allow students to explore, visualize and plan for post-secondary success and develop an appreciation for cultural traditions and community. Our programing will incorporate journaling, goal-setting, and workshops (career, creative writing, self-care, and personal development).

Competitive Grant Making Body
Advisory Group Members and Qualifications

Leyla Suleiman (Minneapolis, MN) Leyla is a first year educator, author in the Crossroads: Somali Youth Anthology, and was a panelist for the Community Partner Fund and is also serving in the immigrant cultural heritage panel. She is Somali.

Hibaq Mohamed (Minneapolis, MN) – Hibaq is an MHC Increase Engagement facilitator, author in the Crossroads: Somali Youth Anthology, and is also serving in the immigrant cultural heritage panel. She is Somali.

Nasra Farah (St. Cloud, MN) – Nasrah is a board member and featured speaker through the activist/advocacy organization #unitecloud. She is Somali.

Conflict of Interest Disclosed
Conflict of Interest Contact

Laura Benson

Minnesota Humanities Center



Legal Citation / Subdivision
Minn. State Legislature Article 4, Section 2, Subdivision 8, (d)
Appropriation Language

$850,000 the first year and $850,000 the second year are for a competitive grants program to provide grants to preserve and promote the cultural heritage of Minnesota.

(2) Of this amount, $250,000 the first year is for a grant to one or more community organizations that provide arts and cultural heritage programming celebrating Somali heritage.

2020 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Direct expenses
Administration costs
Number of full time equivalents funded
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)
  1. School-Engagement
  2. Interpersonal Relationships
  3. Self-efficacy
  4. Culture and Identity

Tusaalo will aid high school students in developing skills and strategies necessary to plan and accomplish goals while developing an appreciation for cultural traditions and community. Our programming will incorporate journaling, goal-setting, and workshops (career, creative writing, self-care, and personal development).

Measurable Outcome(s)

As a result of funding Tusaaalo was able to have material for programming, create activities, bring speakers and provide youth and mentors with resources in order to achieve their goals in the program. Additionally during the second half of the year, the funding supported the program substantially because we were able to now continue programming through the virtual transition of distance learning due to covid as well as have our end of program cycle activities. With new transitions we utilized the funding to create virtual spaces for our weekly group and mentoring session. We conducted these sessions utilizing Zoom licensed platform as well as Discord for out of session communication. We also created virtual learning packets as well as new communication schedules to make sure students were getting the support they needed during difficult times like these. Tusaalo was also able to start renting an office location to hold material and information, create a space where our program participants can drop by as well as a location to record our end of year recap video in a way that followed current health guidelines. With these new transitions we were able to continue to meet our program goals in: School Engagement, Culture and Identity and Building Self Efficacy/Intrapersonal skills. We captured our data through both quantitative and qualitative surveys and interviews with mentors and mentees. The data we captured show that 10/12 of our mentees showed positive improvements academically as well as showed positive behavior and engagement changes. 100% of our mentees felt that having a mentor that they shared a similar background with made an impact on them allowed them to enjoy Tusaalo more. Lastly some testimonies from our youth and mentors included:

“It’s a great experience that makes you feel important knowing that people just like can be successful” - Youth mentee

“My Tusaalo mentor made me believe in my dreams” - Youth Mentee

“Being a Tusaalo Mentor has given me an opportunity to give back to our youth and help build our future leaders”- Tusaalo Mentor

Being a Tusaalo mentor means alot to me. I leave every session inspired and motivated. I love being able to help my mentee navigate life - Tusaalo Mentor

Proposed Outcomes Achieved
achieved proposed outcomes
Recipient Board Members
Nadira Mohamed, Hibat Sharif, Roun Said, Ahmed Maday, Mohamed A. Mohamed, Nasro Abshir, Abdulmalik Buul, Mohamud Mohamed
Project Manager
First Name
Last Name
Organization Name
Tusaalo Mentoring
Administered By
Administered by

987 Ivy Avenue East
St. Paul, MN 55106

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