Achievements in 2018

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Phillipe Cunningham

Policy Specialist, Youth Advocate and Entrepreneur


Work in Mayor Hodges’ Office as Senior Policy Aide for Education, Youth Success, Racial Equity, and LGBTQ Rights

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  • Served on the steering committee for the "Vote YES for Kids" Minneapolis Public Schools referendum campaign, which successfully passed in the 2016 election. The referendum has accounted for approximately 13% of MPS' budget, which translated to $74M in the 2016-2017 school year.

  • Transformed a $25,000 youth violence prevention pilot program into a $362,000 youth work career pathway program called BUILD Leaders for the most disenfranchised youth 18-24 years old in Minneapolis with a site at EMERGE; collaborated with Mayor Hodges, the Health Department, the Community Planning and Economic Development Department, and community organizations to bring to life

  • During the 4th precinct occupation, Phillipe coordinated with the Parks, Park Police, Hennepin County, Minneapolis Public Schools, and the City to ensure youth resources were aligned and in place to support young people processing grief and anger while also engaging in their 1st amendment rights.

    • 2 County children's crisis mental health workers on the ground

    • 10 Youth Coordinating Board youth outreach workers on the ground

    • Sent a memo to every rank and file Minneapolis police officer outlining resources available

  • Primary coordinator for the City of Minneapolis’ My Brother’s Keeper efforts; a framework for aligning systems to better serve the unique boys and young men of color in Minneapolis.

  • Coordinated youth worker and youth discussion round tables with President Obama White House officials, the Former Assistant Attorney General Karol Mason, Former Secretary of Education John B. King, Jr., and Dept of Ed staff.

  • Secured $20,000 in grant funding the launch the 1st Annual My Brother’s Keeper - Minneapolis Youth United Day of Action event, which will be a youth leadership development summit focused on healing trauma and concrete strategies to be leaders in their everyday lives.

  • Chair of the City of Minneapolis’ Trans Issues Work Group

  • Collaborated with National League of Cities’ Youth, Education, and Families Institute to coordinate bi-annual Mayor’s Education Task Force meetings for over 25 mayors from across the country to come together and learn how to step up for young people and their families.

  • Led the passage of capital investment in the 2017 City Budget into renovating and/or building single-stall accessible, gender inclusive restrooms in every City facility to ensure all residents and employees have access to restrooms and changing areas that are accessible and most comfortable for them.

  • Advised the development of Minneapolis Police Department’s first policy clearly defining how officers are expected to most appropriately interact with the transgender community.

  • Collaborated with City leaders to develop the “Trans Equity Resolution,” which was an action of solidarity to the trans community from the City of Minneapolis and also made the Transgender Issues Work Group’s work a permanent fixture in City operations. This resolution passed unanimously.

  • Facilitated workshops on trans-affirming practices for City of Minneapolis employees

  • Led the creation of the Transgender Equity Council, a 15-person body that will lead the City’s transgender equity work and advise the City on how it can best serve the transgender community.


As a youth work professional

  • Consultant to youth-serving programs, agencies, and institutions to train youth workers and leaders how to better identify how racism shows up and how to combat it within themselves and within their institutions; special track for youth workers of color, which also incorporates emotional wellness and self-advocacy components

  • Developed and implemented an original out of school time program curriculum to build skill sets in professionalism and other soft skills needed in today’s world like boundaries and consent, bicultural efficacy, life skills to better prepare for transition to independence, positive cultural identity and pride, and cross-cultural leadership.

  • Organized youth to engage in public policy advocacy at the State Capitol including supporting them to testify before the Minnesota State House Education Innovation Policy Committee on legislation that mattered to them.

  • Developed a youth-oriented public policy advocacy framework to empower youth voice in our democracy.

  • Taught kids 2-11 years olds dance, martial arts, gymnastics, and yoga and high school students Chinese; programs were original curricula that blended physical fitness with emotional wellness and communication skills.

  • Still engages in youth work (on a volunteer basis) with LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness as an Out! Group co-facilitator at Youthlink

As a special education teacher

  • Fundraised over $3,000 for additional classroom supplies to more effectively meet the needs of his students.

  • Wrote Individualized Education Plans, legal documents which hold the school district accountable for providing the necessary supports to meet the needs of students with moderate to severe cognitive disabilities

  • Pro-bono parent advocate for students outside of his school who were being targeted and pushed out of their schools by punitive discipline systems.  

  • Multiple, severe disabilities specialist: Lead elementary and high school classroom teacher for diagnosed as moderate to severe on the Autism Spectrum along with other low-incidence disabilities.

  • Proud, active member of Chicago Teachers Union, Local 1; served as his school’s union alternate delegate

  • Led professional development seminars on Universal Design lesson planning at schools with staffs of 50-150 people.

Additional Professional Accomplishments

  • Collaborated with the National President of Delta Phi Lambda Sorority Inc. to update their nondiscrimination policy to be inclusive of transgender people.

  • Author soon to be published in two different books; one on addressing racism in the classroom and the other for progressive governing

  • Published on The Advocate website and other news sources (see PRESS menu link)