The Minneapolis Foundation Awards More Than $4.9 Million in Community Grants

The Minneapolis Foundation has launched its second century of community building by awarding $4,937,900 in competitive grants for 2016. Wrapping up its Centennial year, the Foundation today announced grants to 81 innovative organizations that strengthen and enhance the economic vitality, education and civic engagement of the Twin Cities.

“Our future prosperity depends on our ability to work together now to ensure that everyone who lives here has real, meaningful opportunities to succeed—in school, in the job market, and in life.”
– Sandy Vargas

The grants will support students at schools that show strong academic achievement despite high poverty rates, low-income renters who are organizing to demand more equitable treatment, disenfranchised ex-offenders who are struggling for the right to vote as they re-enter the community, immigrants who are starting businesses, single mothers who are working toward college degrees, and thousands of other Minnesotans. Grant recipients include grassroots coalitions, schools, immigrant-led efforts, and other organizations that are working to increase equity—the driving value behind the Foundation’s unrestricted grantmaking.

“The need to build a more equitable community has never been more urgent, in Minneapolis and nationwide,” said Sandra Vargas, President and CEO of the Minneapolis Foundation. “Minnesota struggles with stark racial and economic disparities. Our future prosperity depends on our ability to work together now to ensure that everyone who lives here has real, meaningful opportunities to succeed—in school, in the job market, and in life.”

“These grants build on a 100-year tradition of community partnership that we’re looking forward to continuing in our second century,” Vargas continued. The Minneapolis Foundation has invested an estimated $850 million to improve lives in Minneapolis and beyond since it was established in 1915.

One school, Friendship Academy of the Arts, will use a grant from the Foundation to provide additional support in classrooms that recently saw an influx of new students. Friendship, a high-performing charter school in South Minneapolis, topped the Star Tribune’s 2015 “Beating the Odds” list, which recognizes high-poverty metro area schools with the highest percentages of students scoring at grade level or better in reading and math.

Most students at Friendship come from low-income families, and some live in homeless shelters or have unstable housing. “We give children a fighting chance,” said Datrica Chukwu, the school’s academic director. “We recognize that we can’t change their circumstances at home, but we can definitely affect what they get at school. Believing that they can achieve is what is going to get them there.”

The competitive grants announced today, which are awarded annually, represent a combination of endowment funds at the Foundation and co-investments from like-minded partners. They fall into one of three categories:

  • Civic Engagement grants support projects and initiatives to create a community where everyone participates in democracy and public decision-making.
  • Economic Vitality grants support efforts to build an inclusive workforce that reflects the Twin Cities’ changing demographics, and a business climate that fosters innovation, entrepreneurship and self-sufficiency.
  • Education grants support schools and initiatives to create an education system where all children are on track to compete in a global economy, participate in civic life, and pursue their dreams.
Civic Engagement
  • Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha (CTUL), which translates as The Center of Workers United in Struggle, will train low-wage worker members of CTUL. They will monitor and record workplace violations, strategize policy-based solutions, and disseminate a 2015 report—previously funded by The Minneapolis Foundation—that is intended to inform state and workplace policies.
  • The Children’s Defense Fund – Minnesota will promote policies that improve the well-being of children and strengthen the economic security of families. Thanks in part to advocacy by CDF, Minnesota lawmakers in 2015 passed the first increase in a decade to the Basic Sliding Fee Child Care Assistance program. Even so, more than 6,300 families remain on the wait list for the program—more than half of whom live in Hennepin County.
  • The Corcoran Neighborhood Association will build the capacity of the Minneapolis Renters Coalition, cultivating durable leadership and organizing skills among renters in neighborhoods across Minneapolis.
  • The Minnesota Council on Crime and Justice will continue research and advocacy efforts to advance legislation that would restore voting rights to nearly 50,000 Minnesotans who are living in our community while completing probation or parole for a felony conviction.
  • Hope Community will continue its Organizing for Equity Project, a seven-year-old program that prepares emerging leaders—mostly people of color—for issue advocacy and leadership positions in the community. Hope Community has seen dramatic success in its efforts to reshape the west side of the Phillips neighborhood, where the median income is one third of that in the Twin Cities metro area, and 85% of residents are American Indian or people of color.
  • The Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota will continue to provide assistance to low-income refugees and immigrants, as well as their longer term policy work and immigration reform advocacy.
  • Jewish Community Action will collaborate with community members and the Minneapolis City Council to improve equitable access to lending and to strengthen community reinvestment.
  • Ka Joog will work with Somali-Minnesotan youth ages 16-25 to create and distribute nonpartisan education materials on issues especially relevant to Somali-Americans during the 2016 elections.
  • The Lake Street Council will help small business owners in the Lake Street Corridor of Minneapolis influence city policies that impact the ability of businesses to thrive.
  • Lao Assistance Center of Minnesota will offer the Southeast Asian Engagement Project, a platform for learning and dialogue between and among Minneapolis Southeast Asian community members and City of Minneapolis staff.
  • Lyndale Neighborhood Association will continue its community building and voter engagement work, start a new initiative to organize around renters’ rights, and continue the Women’s Leadership Program, a five-year-old leadership development initiative for Latina and Somali women in south Minneapolis.
  • The Minneapolis Urban League will grow its capacity for research, evaluation, and public policy work to eradicate racial disparities and connect people of color with opportunities to increase their economic prosperity.
  • Minnesota Neighborhoods Organizing for Change will create community-owned infrastructure and build capacity, collaboration, and leadership in communities of color to shape broader public debate about issues of equity.
  • Minnesota Voice will offer the We Vote MN Fellows program, a leadership development program for organizers of color at local nonprofit organizations. The Fellows will work together on an integrated voter engagement campaign throughout Minneapolis in 2016.
  • Nexus Community Partners will offer its Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute in the Twin Cities. The institute, which is currently engaged with its third cohort, works with leaders of color who are preparing to serve on city and county boards and commissions.
  • Pillsbury United Communities will expand its efforts to increase collaborative, strategic civic engagement in the Latino community.
  • The University of Minnesota’s Roy Wilkins Center for Human Relations and Social Justice will offer the Wilkins Community Fellowship, a week-long intensive program designed in partnership with Dr. Samuel Myers and The Minneapolis Foundation. Now in its third year, the program targets mid-level nonprofit leaders of color, bringing them together to learn methods of policy analysis to advance equitable public policies in the community.
  • Somali Action Alliance Education Fund will encourage and prepare Somali residents of the Twin Cities to run for elected office and to serve in leadership positions on neighborhood councils, city boards and commissions, school site councils, and nonprofit boards.
  • Through its Justice 4 All campaign, the Take Action Education Fund will continue grassroots organizing to restore voting rights to Minnesotans who are living in our community while completing parole or probation for felony convictions.
  • The Advocates for Human Rights will continue its Immigrant & Refugee Worker Protection Research Project. This research identifies how existing laws and enforcement are failing to protect foreign-born workers from discrimination, exploitation, and the denial of opportunity.
  • The Partnership Fund, a funding collaborative, will work with local organizations to win and sustain policy and community change through a vision and framework of developing activism that is rooted in, and accountable to, diverse communities in Minnesota.
  • Voices for Racial Justice will advance equity through collaboration, grassroots organizing, and public policy advocacy. Among its initiatives are an organizing training for high school students and the Education Equity Project, which brings together parents and students of color to work alongside teachers, administrators, and state officials to advance racial equity in Minneapolis schools.
  • Vote Run Lead will offer in-person and online training to inform and equip the growing, diverse network of Twin Cities women who are interested in serving through civic leadership. Vote Run Lead is a national nonpartisan organization that works to increase the number of diverse women moving into positions of community leadership.
  • WE WIN Institute will continue to offer Parents Make the Academic Difference, a program that helps Twin Cities parents of color develop the skills to influence school policies that will advance equity.
Economic Vitality
  • AccessAbility Inc. will provide workforce development, job placement and job retention services to chronically unemployed ex-offenders from Minneapolis communities of color.
  • The African Development Center (ADC) will provide technical assistance and training to new and existing African refugee and immigrant businesses in Minneapolis.
  • African Economic Development Solutions will provide technical assistance and training to new and existing African immigrant-owned businesses in Minneapolis.
  • The Alliance for Metropolitan Stability will work with the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, the Employee Assistance Firm, and the City of Minneapolis to ensure that workforce and training goals are met on the new Vikings Stadium and other publicly funded construction projects in Minneapolis.
  • American Indian OIC will provide vocational education with career laddering and sector-specific job placement for American Indians in Minneapolis.
  • Bii Gii Wiin Community Development Loan Fund will promote asset-building services for low-income American Indian families in Minneapolis, including credit counseling, financial literacy support, credit-building loans, homebuyer education, and entrepreneurship classes.
  • The Centre for Asian Pacific Islanders (CAPI) USA will provide career pathways for unemployed immigrants in Minneapolis.
  • Comunidades Latinas Unidas en Servicio (CLUES) will provide workforce training and job placement for Latinos in Minneapolis.
  • The Creating IT Futures Foundation (CITFF) will provide information technology training in high-demand career-track jobs to low-income women of color in Minneapolis.
  • EMERGE Community Development will provide comprehensive workforce and career path training and placement for chronically un- and underemployed workers from communities of color in Minneapolis.
  • GiveMN will provide easy online tools to connect donors with nonprofit organizations throughout the state of Minnesota.
  • Goodwill Industries / Easter Seals Minnesota will provide comprehensive workforce and career path training and placement for chronically un- and underemployed workers from communities of color in Minneapolis.
  • The Heading Home Minnesota Funders Collaborative will support policy changes and implementation strategies to improve training and employment needs for those experiencing homelessness.
  • Hope United CDC will support a dependency reduction pilot that will transition Minnesota Family Investment Program clients and the hard-to-employ into sector-based training and careers.
  • The Jeremiah Program will support low-income mothers and their children through a comprehensive program that leads to career readiness through a college degree.
  • The Latino Economic Development Center will provide technical assistance and training to new and existing Latino businesses in Minneapolis.
  • The Twin Cities Local Initiatives Support Organization will provide financial support and capacity building to its Financial Opportunity Centers, which offer place-based career and financial services to low- and moderate-income families in Minneapolis.
  • The Metropolitan Economic Development Association (Meda) will help high-impact minority-owned businesses increase their capacity to create quality jobs and sustain growth for minority communities in Minneapolis.
  • MicroGrants will provide grants of up to $1,000 to help low-income people and people of color achieve self-sufficiency through micro-enterprise development.
  • Minnesota Compass will provide information and analysis on trends impacting regions, counties, towns, and cities across Minnesota.
  • Momentum Enterprises will provide workforce development, job placement, and job retention services to chronically unemployed ex-offenders from communities of color through its social enterprise businesses in Minneapolis.
  • The Neighborhood Development Center will provide technical assistance and training to new and existing minority-owned businesses in low-income neighborhoods in Minneapolis.
  • The Northside Economic Opportunity Network (NEON) will provide technical assistance and training to new and existing African American businesses in North Minneapolis.
  • The Northside Funders Group will launch its North@Work initiative to recruit, train, and place 2,000 African American men from North Minneapolis in living-wage jobs.
  • The Power of People Leadership Institute will provide workforce training and placement to support the successful transition and integration of male ex-offenders into the community.
  • Prepare + Prosper will provide high-quality, free tax preparation and financial services to low- and moderate-income families in Minneapolis.
  • Project for Pride in Living (PPL) will provide training, career development, and placement in high-demand industries for chronically un- and underemployed workers from communities of color.
  • The University of Minnesota Urban Outreach and Engagement Center (UROC) will support the Northside Job Creation Team’s efforts to attract businesses and high-potential jobs to North Minneapolis.
  • RESOURCE, Inc. will provide comprehensive workforce training and placement for chronically un- and underemployed workers from communities of color in Minneapolis.
  • Summit Academy OIC will provide comprehensive job training and placement for low-income adults from communities of color in high-demand industries, including construction and health care.
  • The Network for Better Futures will provide comprehensive job training and job placement to support the successful transition and integration of male ex-offenders into the community.
  • The Minneapolis/St. Paul Workforce Innovation Network (MSPWIN) will support workforce development and policy changes to improve economic disparities in communities of color.
  • Twin Cities R!SE (TCR) will provide comprehensive job training and placement for chronically un-and underemployed workers from communities of color in Minneapolis.
  • The African American Leadership Forum—Twin Cities will partner with local nonprofits and churches to engage African American families in education and launch “Creating a Public Mind,” a yearlong media and church awareness campaign.
  • Baby’s Space: A Place to Grow will continue providing its four-star Parent Aware-rated early childhood education program and build on its work to engage parents in their children’s academic success. Baby’s Space is located near the Little Earth of United Tribes housing complex in the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis and works with many American Indian families.
  • Banyan Community, which provides youth development and after-school programming, will continue its family and parent empowerment work in the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis.
  • Educators 4 Excellence will develop teachers as leaders in education policy and advance positive outcomes for students. E4E’s membership includes more than 1,000 teachers from 230 schools in the Twin Cities.
  • Friendship Academy of the Arts will expand its delivery of rigorous K-6 academic coursework and arts programs. Friendship, a charter school near Powderhorn Park in South Minneapolis, topped the Star Tribune’s 2015 Beating the Odds list, which honors schools where students test well in reading and math despite high poverty rates.
  • The Harvest Network of Schools will continue providing high-intensity interventions to boost student achievement as it grows to serve 3,500 students in North Minneapolis by 2025.
  • Hiawatha Academies will continue expanding its high-performing charter school network in South Minneapolis. Hiawatha currently operates four schools that serve about 1,000 students, three-quarters of whom are English language learners and nearly all of whom are children from low-income families.
  • Joyce Preschool will continue providing its Spanish-English dual-immersion preschool program in South Minneapolis. For the fourth year in a row, 100% of students in this four-star Parent Aware-rated program were assessed as ready for kindergarten when they finished preschool.
  • KIPP North Star Academy, a middle school that serves about 300 students in North Minneapolis, will continue to offer rigorous academic coursework to prepare students for success in high school and beyond.
  • MIGIZI, an American Indian media and education asset-building organization, will monitor Minneapolis Public Schools’ implementation of its equity and diversity policy and work with the district and other community members to identify strategies for eliminating racial disparities.
  • The Minnesota Campaign for Achievement (MinnCAN) will continue leading statewide advocacy efforts to advance educational equity.
  • Minneapolis College Preparatory School, a charter high school in North Minneapolis, will continue providing rigorous coursework that prepares all its students for college.
  • Minnesota Comeback (formerly the Education Transformation Initiative) will develop a portfolio of strategic initiatives and school investments to ensure that all Minneapolis students attend high-quality schools by 2025.
  • Minnesota Education Equity Partnership (MnEEP) will work to address racial discipline disparities in Minneapolis Public Schools, disseminate suspension data to inform the community, and launch an online discipline dashboard tool to shape equitable policies.
  • Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ) is a collaboration of schools, housing, health, career, and other organizations that focus on a 13 by 18 block area of North Minneapolis. NAZ leverages education as a tool to end multigenerational poverty and ensure that children graduate from high school ready for college. The Minneapolis Foundation supports NAZ’s efforts to engage parents as leaders in closing the opportunity gap in North Minneapolis.
  • Parent Aware for School Readiness will promote and evaluate the Parent Aware quality ratings system so that all families have access to high-quality early learning programs, and parents can make informed decisions about which programs best serve their children.
  • People Serving People, the largest family shelter in Minnesota, will continue providing its four-star Parent Aware-rated early childhood development center and parent and family services program.
  • The Somali American Parent Association will empower immigrant parents to understand and navigate Minnesota school systems and gain the knowledge and skills necessary to support and advocate for their children’s educational success and well-being.
  • Students for Education Reform (SFER) will build on its organizing work on 17 Minnesota college campuses. SFER trains college students as leaders of campaigns to change local and state policies affecting communities that are underserved by public education.
  • Teach for America (TFA) will recruit, train, and place diverse, high-potential teaching in high-needs public schools. TFA will also continue engaging its alumni network to move into school leadership roles and be lifelong advocates for students.
  • The Family Partnership will continue its math and literacy enhancement project at its two multicultural therapeutic preschools in Minneapolis, enhancing the capacity of its staff to ensure that children facing developmental delays or adverse early childhood experiences are ready for kindergarten.
  • Think Small will work to increase the number of early childhood programs that are rated by the Parent Aware system and continue helping families access early learning scholarships to high-quality Parent Aware-rated programs.
  • Way to Grow will continue providing its high-quality preschools, home visiting, and parent engagement programs for low-income families in Minneapolis.
  • The YWCA of Minneapolis will continue providing early childhood education for families in need at its four Children’s Centers in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Students at Friendship Academy of the Arts, a high-performing charter school in South Minneapolis that is among this year’s competitive grant recipients