On July 19th, 2022, Re-Righting History: A Celebration of Youth Unemployment Insurance Benefits was held at the Minnesota State Capital. Community members and leaders gathered on the Roy Wilkens lawn to celebrate a legislative victory dictating that youth receive unemployment benefits just like their adult counterparts for contributing and paying into the same system.
Young people are not eligible for unemployment benefits in Minnesota for decades. When the pandemic hit, Minnesota paid approximately $15 billion toward unemployment insurance to eligible Minnesotans. A petition was started by some of the most vulnerable young people, who are often kids of color and come from low-income households. The petition gained momentum as well as bipartisan support. The efforts to garner support for youth unemployment benefits eventually came to fruition when more than $35 million was paid to Minnesota’s high school students.
President of Youthprise, an organization that innovates systems, structures, and practices that enable youth to thrive by mobilizing and investing resources, and one of the strongest advocates for making this happen, Marcus Pope said of young Minnesotans, “We know that unemployment insurance law is evidence of racial inequity… young people represent the heartbeat of social change.”
Representative Mohammad Noor ended his remarks with a comment to all the young folks present, “We were told this would never happen, and you did it!”