Model Cities’ roots date back to the 1960s era of community empowerment. It was created in 1967 by members of St. James AME Church to remedy health access issues among low income residents of St. Paul’s Summit-University community. With a $25,000 grant from Ramsey Action Programs and the City of St Paul, a Public Health Nurse was hired to coordinate volunteer services of physicians, dentists and nurses. A van was purchased to provide free health services throughout the neighborhood and other parts of the City. In 1969, when Federal Model Cities Demonstration Act funding was awarded to St Paul, the Summit-University neighborhood was designated as the Model Neighborhood and the project took on the name Model Cities Health Project.
In 1972, with the phasing out of the Federal Model Cities program, Model Cities Health Project became a part of the St Paul Division of Public Health and functioned as its satellite clinic. In 1985, when Model Cities was still a part of the City, the St. Paul Foundation awarded a $3,000 grant from its newly created Management Assistance Program. This grant funded a strategic planning process to guide Model Cities’ becoming a private nonprofit organization. The plan was achieved, and on December 1, 1985, Model Cities Health Project became Model Cities Health Center, Inc., a private nonprofit 501(c) (3) agency. Meanwhile, the agency’s federal assistance moved from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to Department of Health Education and Welfare (now Health and Human Services).
Due to Federal regulations and limitations on Model Cities’ scope of services, in 1991 the agency was restructured from one agency into three affiliate organizations: Model Cities Health Center (primary health care operations), Model Cities Family Development Center (social services and early childhood development), and Model Cities of St. Paul (the parent company and development arm of the affiliation). Federal regulations regarding affiliations placed new restraints on Model Cities’ affiliation in 1997, and given federal devolution, government cut-backs, and a need to increase organizational efficiencies and reduce costs, in 1998, the family development center merged under Model Cities of St. Paul, Inc. The health center continues to operate as a separate organization. In 1998, Model Cities established its community development corporation for the purpose of fully integrating human services with economic development.
Mission: To provide social and economic prosperity by providing access to opportunities that stabilize and develop families and communities.