Unite Cloud Microgrant

Project Details by Fiscal Year
2020 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Fund Source
Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund
Unite Cloud
Recipient Type
Non-Profit Business/Entity
Start Date
December 2019
End Date
June 2020
Activity Type
Counties Affected
Project Overview

For this project, we are partnering with a local Somali-owned business, Nori Cafe and Creamery. Nori Cafe and Creamery provides a space that bridges the gap between different cultures through events and an array of coffee, tea, smoothies and cold drinks. Starting this past June, they have hosted bi-monthly “Somali Language Nights” where a local member of the Central MN Somali community teaches Somali phrases to non-Somali community members. #unitecloud has promoted this event on our social media and the response has been fantastic! We have many community members asking when the next one is so they can put it on their calendar. Through this grant, we hope to be able to provide free food and drink during these nights to drive more neighbors to each event. We also want to increase the capacity for Nori to have these more frequency by paying a stipend to the organizers to be able to carve out time to do this important, bridge-building work.

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)

Goal of this project: Host four “Somali Language and Culture” gatherings at Nori Cafe and Creamery in St. Cloud, MN.

Success for this project looks like: Bringing neighbors together by offering free Somali food and drinks as well as a safe community space to get to know their neighbors, learn Somali phrases and experience Somali culture.

Measurable Outcome(s)

We had a great first session at the end of February. As participants came in, we handed them a short survey to understand what their hopes were for the classes, and we plan to incorporate their suggestions and questions into the remaining sessions. During the first class, we learned how to say a few common greetings like "Hello" and "My name is". We also learned a bit about the history of Somalia as a country and found out that Somali has only been a written language since the 1970s! Participants asked questions about everything from refugee camps to life as a Muslim woman in Minnesota. Everyone loved trying a variety of sambusas, Somali tea, malawah (Somali pancake), and madhasi (Somali fried bread). Many people stayed after class to hang out in the cafe and talk more with Farhiya, our session leader, and her sisters.

With COVID-19 came the negative result of us not being able to host our sessions at Nori Cafe, or anywhere else in person, for that matter. In talks with Farhiya and Nori Cafe, they said they would be willing to teach these sessions via Zoom. This took more time for our facilitator and organizer to organize and plan around, so we proposed using the food budget as extra stipend for Farhiya and Unite Cloud, since the food wouldn't be possible for the remaining sessions. We had postponed our March class, unsure at that time if things would be "back to normal" by April or not. When the Governor announced extended social distancing for April we decided to move that class to an online model and combined the March and April session into one online session in April held at the same time as we originally planned it to happen to hopefully fit in well with people's schedules.

For our final session, many of our participants, as well as our facilitator, were having trouble with their internet connection (this was the weekend of George Floyd's murder and there were a lot of internet issues across the state). Because of this, Farhiya recorded the final session and we sent it out to participants.

While we did meet our goals of this class, due to circumstances beyond our control, we had to do so in unconventional ways. We were so glad that we were able to have one class together in person so that our participants had a chance to try Somali food and Somali tea. While we never meant to have these classes through Zoom, we were pleased to see from our post-sessions survey results that participants did still feel that connection with our facilitator and thoroughly enjoyed learning from her.


In looking at the results our post-sessions survey and comparing it to our pre-sessions survey, we were amazed by the growth in our participants:

*On a scale from 1-10, how much do you know about the Somali LANGUAGE after attending this series? (1=not knowing anything, 10= knowing all)

Pre-Survey: Range of 1-3

Post- Survey: Range of 2-7

*On a scale from 1-10, how much do you know about Somali CULTURE after attending this series? (1=not knowing anything, 10= knowing all)

Pre-Survey: Range of 1-4

Post- Survey: Range of 6-9

Proposed Outcomes Achieved
achieved proposed outcomes
Recipient Board Members
Zurya Anjum, Younsook Yeo, Maria Greaves, Mike Morrow, Ekram Elmoge, Esther Aspling
Project Manager
First Name
Last Name
Organization Name
Unite Cloud
St. Cloud
Administered By
Administered by

987 Ivy Avenue East
St. Paul, MN 55106

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