Jerry Sedgewick, a St. Anthony Park resident, wanted to do something to empower Minnesota’s homeless population. With a diverse background that includes newspapers and media, Sedgewick began researching “street” newspapers, a concept he learned about after a visit to Nashville, Tenn. There, Sedgewick saw that people standing on the sides of freeway ramps weren’t holding signs asking for help. They were selling newspapers.
Sedgewick learned that many major cities have “street” papers for the homeless and underemployed to sell, but the Twin Cities did not. Sedgewick jumped into action.
He spent time volunteering at Listening House, a homeless shelter in downtown St. Paul, to get to know the community on a personal level and then began a crowd-funding campaign to help launch his newspaper, Prevail News.
Prevail News will be published twice a month and feature articles addressing homelessness and poverty issues, among other topics of general interest. The Creativity section of the paper will be dedicated to work by homeless contributors, such as Cliff Hendricks, a 27-year-old homeless artist who Sedgewick met at Listening House.
“Cliff motivated me to get the paper up and running,” Sedgwick said. Hendricks’ artwork will be featured in the inaugural Creativity section. “We anticipate many more contributions to this section after the first issue is produced and distributed.”
Newspaper sellers, or vendors, will receive training on a code of conduct and local regulations, as well as a badge identifying them as Prevail News contractors and 10 free papers. Vendors who want to continue can then buy additional newspapers for 50 cent per paper and sell them for a suggested price of $2. Vendors keep the difference.
If vendors reach sales benchmarks they can earn additional perks such as free papers or clothing. Vendors are also encouraged to attend regular sessions on sales and other skills.
Prevail is an independently run, nonprofit corporation. Sedgewick hopes to raise funds through pop-up events, contests and donations.
Sedgewick wants to do his part to reduce or eliminate the need for panhandling in the metro area. Prevail’s mission statement says it all: “To provide job opportunities for those left out of the mainstream, such as the homeless and those who have been incarcerated.”
You can learn more at www.prevailnews.org.