Somali Action Alliance

Address: 2525 East Franklin Avenue Suite 301
Minneapolis, MN 55406
Contact Person:
Phone: 612-455-2185
Mission: The Somali Community in the United States and in Minnesota Before the civil war, an estimated 7.7. million people lived in Somalia, while today, about one million Somali are scattered around the world (Cultural Orientation Project, 2004). While a great number of refugees live in neighboring countries in East Africa and in the Middle East, there are Somali communities throughout Europe (Germany, Switzerland, Finland, England) and North America. Somalis in the United States have lived predominantly in New York, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, Boston, Atlanta, Detroit and recently, San Diego and Seattle. Particularly, recent first and second waves of Somali immigrants have settled in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, where an estimated 40-70% of Somali immigrants now reside, making it the largest American home to Somali refugees (Greeson, Veach, & LeRoy, 2001; Minnesota Foundation, 2004). While the number is not exact, community leaders estimate 60,000-75,000 Somali live in Minnesota with the majority in Minneapolis-St. Paul. Somalis are one of the largest immigrant communities in Canada, with the majority living in Toronto. "The complex war among clan-based militias has displaced almost 50% of the population, and hundreds of thousands have died" (Kemp & Rasbridge, 2001, p. 59). Somali have lived in the United States anywhere from 5-10 years, are primarily apartment dwellers and work more than one job. Our families are large, often 6-10 members, approximately 1/3 are children. Many families are headed by mothers as men were killed in the war. Limited English skills and work low paying jobs predominate. As refugees from a civil war we have little knowledge or trust in a democratic system and minimal experience in raising our voices in either unity or disagreement. We are a Muslim community which impacts our ability to participate in the Western economic system. A political people, we’re eager to discuss what is happening back home. As an oral people we depend on each other, the radio, and internet for our news and information. Using the Federal definition of poverty for a family of 4, the amount is $18,850. Related research helps provide a picture of the state of Minnesota’s Somali families. According to the Community Partnership for Adult Learning (2004 report) 70% of the Somali families living in the Cedar Riverside are live below the Federal poverty level. A study done by the Wilder Research Center (April 2003) indicates that 32% of Somali families receive MFIP are working, another 31% are on MFIP and not working and 37% are off MFIP.