Let Everyone Advance with Dignity (LEAD)

Let Everyone Advance with Dignity (LEAD), a project of the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program now operating in over 70 cities, is a public health approach to community safety that diverts individuals cycling in and out of the legal system into a long-term case management model of care. Utilizing a harm reduction platform to improve outcomes, LEAD’s unique, collaborative implementation structure brings a cross section of community leaders and neighborhood residents and business owners together in partnership with case managers. Their common goal is to decrease recidivism and improve stability for residents facing challenges with non-violent behaviors often criminalized.

An independent evaluation of LEAD Seattle confirms the positive impact for participants and their communities. The study found participants were:

  • 58% less likely to be arrested
  • 39% less likely to be charged with a felony
  • 2x as likely to be sheltered
  • 46% more likely to be on employment continuum
  • 33% more likely to have income / benefits

Locally, LEAD is housed by Pillsbury United Communities and is focused on the Lake Street corridor in Minneapolis, an area built and sustained by Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and immigrant communities. This area, once a longstanding hub of culture, entrepreneurship, and activity, has seen an increase in criminal activity driven by the effects of systemic racism and a lack of investment. These issues have been exacerbated by COVID-19 as well as protests and the uprisings after the murder of George Floyd, driving GreenLight Twin Cities to prioritize this need and select LEAD.

LEAD is unique as it provides intensive, holistic care outside of the legal system at the point of contact between individuals and police as well as through community referrals and cross-sector relationship-building. In Minneapolis, the model:

  • Is led by business leaders, community members, legal staff, and city officials
  • Increases capacity in the Lake St./3rd police precinct area
  • Improves outcomes for marginalized community members who already have high contact with the legal system by providing: a case manager trained on harm-reduction and focused on relationship-building, goal-setting support and breaking down barriers to achieve them and access to opportunities such as employment, housing, and mental health care

Consistent with the national LEAD model, rather than being “owned” by any one stakeholder or agency, LEAD Minneapolis is implemented as a collective governance model in partnership with the Minneapolis City Attorney’s Office, Pillsbury United Communities, and the Policy Coordinating Group (PCG). The multi-agency PCG, made up of community and civil rights leaders, law enforcement, business owners, and city officials, provides collective management and joint decision-making while ensuring LEAD Minneapolis has adequate resources to be impactful in our community in connection with our coalition of community partners and funders. A special thank you to the City of Minneapolis, the Lake Street Greenway Partnership, Thomson Reuters, U.S. Bank, Allina Health and Mortenson Construction who have helped make LEAD Minneapolis possible.

Local Program Goals

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