In West Saint Paul, the Residents of Color Collective (ROCC) is dedicated to providing resources for BIPOC residents and to improving their city and their state. Through essential drives, food deliveries, and resource fairs, ROCC provides residents of color with the tools they need to succeed in a community where they are often overlooked. As part of this, founder Kimetha “Kae Jae” Johnson and her granddaughter Nyalah are running a youth leadership program that teaches children of color not only how to love where they live, but how to learn valuable life and leadership skills in the process.
The ROCC Climbers program gives young members access to the land that they might not find elsewhere, from skiing to hiking to fishing. The ROCC Climbers plan and host their own events, as well as managing their community garden at Dodge Nature Center. Nine-year-old Nyalah is both the president and founder of the ROCC Climbers Program, and everything that the Climbers do is led by their members, who range from age seven to sixteen.
Kae Jae considers the ROCC Climbers Program one of her proudest accomplishments. She’s seen first hand how the Climbers Program has helped its members, including her granddaughter, develop confidence, leadership skills, and a love for their community and land. The ROCC Climbers, as well as the rest of ROCC, are looking forward to the future by seeking funding that will help expand their programs, increase the opportunities they can provide youth, and create a brick-and-mortar location to run their programs out of.
To support ROCC and the Climbers Program, check out their website at roccmn.org.
Congratulations ROCC on being one of the 3 winners from across the state for your ongoing dedication to caring for Minnesota’s natural places.