In early 2013, when several Somali-American friends in Minneapolis discussed ways to give back to their community, they figured the most essential thing would be to contribute to the educational welfare of the Somali immigrant community’s youngsters. They brainstormed whether they should start tutoring programs for the struggling immigrant Somali students in the Twin Cities public schools, create mentoring opportunities or find ways to link the students with resources funded by local non-profit organizations and city programs — and how they would do so. The group of friends wanted to do something unique.
After much discussion, they finally voted on one action: the establishment of Shanta Link, the first and the only known Somali-run scholarship program, which gives money to high school seniors who plan on attending colleges and universities in Minnesota. They also recognized the importance of following through with scholarship recipients, providing mentorship and support as students navigate the complexities of higher education.
In a short period of time Shanta Link has broadened its scholarship and mentoring and focus to partner with educational institutions and programs that help break down barriers for young Somali immigrants to plan for career and college opportunities while maintaining and celebrating their own heritage and culture.
In its early stages, Shanta Link was fortunate to have Pangea serve as its fiscal agent. In fall 2014, Shanta Link received its 501(c)3 designation, allowing it to be independent.