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A Message From the Founder

I recently took a few moments to look back on some the early emails between City Stay’s founding board members from February of 2012. Peppered with exclamation points, our excitement was palpable. We were creating a vision for a program that we believed would transform our community.

One of the emails included an attachment to a non-profit business proposal we had created. The plan outlined what this unnamed organization would do, who it would serve, and how it would make an impact in the community. These first formal words ever written about City Stay began as follows:

“Despite increasing diversity, our Twin Cities remain deeply divided along cultural and ethnic lines. We live in separate neighborhoods and lack avenues for exploring relationships and conversations with those in other communities. Sometimes we lack the foreign language skills to develop those relationships. Other times, simply the physical distance keeps us apart. Regardless of the reasons, our deficiency of cross-community relationships feeds into a lack of knowledge and understanding of our neighbors. This exacerbates community mistrust, income inequality, and social stratification.”

Now, more than five years later, City Stay is a reality, building bridges between Minnesotans of all backgrounds. We’ve had the honor of facilitating a multitude of meaningful and informative relationships between people of different cultures, races, and generations. Our model is making a difference.

As social and political polarization intensifies across our country, City Stay gives me immense hope. When we invite students and hosts to participate in homestays, we are giving them the tools to dismantle their concept of “the other.” Their City Stay experience equips them with personal relationships and stories to fight back against hate and discrimination in Minnesota.

Whether you’re a donor, a student, a host, or simply a caring neighbor, I am hopeful that your advocacy will help us grow to reach even more students and families in the Twin Cities and beyond. On behalf of City Stay’s founding board, thank you for your support of this timely and groundbreaking work.

-Julie, City Stay Founder