MANKATO — The Mankato Area Foundation announced Thursday that MAF and 11 of their public, private and nonprofit sector partners are “launching one of the largest community-led, mixed-method inclusivity studies in America.”

Intercultural Competence Edge, Inc., a national firm, will be conducting The Greater Mankato Inclusivity Study — which is both publicly and privately funded — to “gauge the current status of inclusivity for students, individuals who work in and residents of the Greater Mankato area” including Blue Earth and Nicollet counties, according to a news release.

The efforts were prompted pre-pandemic after a number of stakeholders and groups in the community met and discussed the need to have a baseline of where the community is at.

When COVID-19 hit, the efforts were back burnered. When conversation about it started up again, it was decided that they needed a group to lead it to the finish line. That’s when MAF came in.

“We enthusiastically agreed because it really aligns with the work we do in the community as well,” Nancy Zallek, president and CEO of the Mankato Area Foundation, said. “We’re always looking for ways to better understand what our challenges and opportunities are, so we saw this is something that just amplified what we’re already doing.”

The study is believed to be an important tool for MAF and for the community as “equitable access to opportunities and resources in the region” is addressed.

Partners of the study include MAF, Mayo Clinic Health System, Greater Mankato Growth, city of Mankato, Blue Earth County, Minnesota State University, Nicollet County, city of North Mankato, YWCA Mankato, Greater Mankato Diversity Council, South Central College and Mankato Area Public Schools-ISD 77.

“Having such a broad group of partners gives us the ability to reach thousands of our community members,” Laura Bowman, director of community relations and strategic partnerships at Mayo Clinic Health System said in a press release.

“This will provide us with many helpful perspectives regarding inclusivity for everyone.”

The collection of resident perspectives is underway, with personal interviews and focus groups with local community members already being conducted. The survey will be released next.

According to MAF, “the partners involved in the study plan to use this survey to hear community members’ perceptions and experiences regarding living and working in Greater Mankato.” Topics of conversation include housing, health care, education and economic well-being.

The findings of the study will not make suggestions, but will help the community identify areas of improvement for all demographics.

“Information gathered from this study will be utilized as a resource for better understanding ways in which Greater Mankato can continue to build a welcoming region for businesses, members of the workforce, community members and visitors,” Jessie Beyer, president and CEO of Greater Mankato Growth, said in a press release.

The survey will be provided in multiple languages and disbursed through a variety of businesses and community organizations.

The survey will be open through Nov. 20. A summary of the report will be released in the first quarter of 2023.

The survey is open to anyone who lives, works, or commutes to the Greater Mankato area. To learn more or to take the survey, visit: http://greatermankatoinclusivity.com/.

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