The Minneapolis Foundation Kicks Off New Year with Nearly $5 Million in Grants

Equity-focused funding will support 87 organizations working on education, economic vitality, and civic engagement

The Minneapolis Foundation has kicked off the New Year by awarding $4,978,000 in competitive grants for 2017. The Foundation today announced grants to 87 organizations that are working to enhance the economic vitality, education and civic engagement of greater Minneapolis-Saint Paul.

The grant recipients range from Minnesota’s largest family shelter to an institute that supports emerging American Indian leaders to a college that offers a special program to train women in technical careers. In a variety of ways, all of the organizations receiving support are working to create a community where racial, social and economic equity thrives—the driving value behind the Foundation’s unrestricted grantmaking.

“This year marks a critical moment in philanthropy, when an exceptionally generous community has seen great outcomes, but still has troubling challenges,” said R.T. Rybak, President and CEO of The Minneapolis Foundation. “Our community doesn’t lack compassion, but it does lack alignment. With these grants, we’re working to achieve that alignment by joining forces with a host of organizations that are committed to ensuring that everyone who lives here has real opportunities to succeed.”

One grant recipient, Reading Partners, is collaborating with Minneapolis Public Schools to provide reading centers and individualized literacy interventions and tutoring at five high-needs elementary schools. Reading Partners uses an evidence-based model that has been shown to raise the reading proficiency of students who are at least six months below grade level.

“This grant from The Minneapolis Foundation is essential to Reading Partners as we seek to serve more students in our second year of operation in the Twin Cities,” said Karen Casanova, Executive Director of Reading Partners Twin Cities. “The need is urgent—state data shows that less than half of all third graders, and less than a quarter of those living in poverty, are reading at grade level in Minneapolis Public Schools.”

These annual competitive grants are just one slice of The Minneapolis Foundation’s grantmaking. The Foundation administers more than 1,200 charitable funds and distributed more than $50 million in 2016, locally and globally.

The grants announced today 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 metro area’s 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
  • The African American Leadership Forum—Twin Cities will offer the Josie R. Johnson Leadership Academy, a year-long program designed to meet the personal, cultural, civic, and professional development needs of 15-20 intergenerational leaders, while fostering a long-term commitment to improve the community.
  • The Amherst H. Wilder Foundation’s Center for Communities will support its second cohort of the Community Equity Pipeline, a ten-month hands-on training program for 15 leaders of color who will work to increase their legislative lobbying skills and develop influence in the legislative process.
  • The University of Minnesota’s Center on Women, Gender and Public Policy will conduct a community-based participatory research project in partnership with African American parents, caregivers, and leaders of nonprofits to study and ultimately help shape state and municipal public policies such as the new paid leave policy in Minneapolis.
  • Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha (CTUL), which translates as the Center of Workers United in Struggle, will develop the leadership of low-wage workers to reshape policies and practices that prevent wage theft and improve workplace conditions.
  • The Children’s Defense Fund – Minnesota will continue its legislative advocacy work to advance public policies that improve the well-being of children and strengthen the economic security of families.
  • The Coalition of Asian American Leaders will grow its multigenerational, multi-ethnic, multi-sector initiative to connect and cultivate diverse Asian American leaders who are working to promote equity.
  • FairVote Minnesota Foundation will provide education and training about ranked choice voting to organizations that are working to increase voter turnout and build coalitions through the 2017 Minneapolis municipal election season.
  • Hope Community will continue its Organizing for Equity Project, a ten-year-old program that prepares emerging leaders for issue advocacy and leadership positions in the community.
  • The Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota will continue to provide legal assistance to low-income refugees and immigrants, as well as advocacy around immigration reforms.
  • The Lake Street Council will continue to support its members, mostly small business owners in the Lake Street Corridor of Minneapolis, who are working to shape and influence city policies that promote equitable economic development.
  • The Lao Assistance Center of Minnesota will continue its work to increase learning and dialogue between Minneapolis Southeast Asian community members, City of Minneapolis staff, elected officials, and area law enforcement agencies.
  • The Minnesota Civil Liberties Union Foundation will provide communications work and legislative advocacy as a member of the Restore the Vote Coalition, which is working to restore voting rights to nearly 50,000 Minnesotans who have felony convictions and are not incarcerated, living in the community under supervision.
  • The Minnesotan Coalition for the Homeless will continue its legislative advocacy focused on issues of voting rights, affordable housing, and economic security.
  • Neighborhoods Organizing for Change will continue its work to advance equitable public policies through community organizing, leadership development, and legislative advocacy.
  • Minnesota Voice will continue its We Vote MN Fellows program, a leadership development program and integrated voter engagement campaign for organizers of color at local nonprofit organizations.
  • The Native American Community Development Institute will execute its Organizing Leadership Institute, an academy that develops emerging American Indian leaders interested in civic leadership.
  • The Partnership Fund, a funding collaborative, will support local nonprofit organizations working to build independent political power in Minnesota.
  • Nexus Community Partners will continue its Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute in the Twin Cities. The institute, which is currently engaged with its fourth cohort of 15 students, works with leaders of color who seek to serve on city and county boards and commissions.
  • Pillsbury United Communities will serve as the anchor organization in a coalition of immigrant-led organizations that are working together to improve the lives of immigrants through a collective legislative agenda and community organizing to help inform the Minnesota New American Integration Act.
  • The University of Minnesota’s Roy Wilkins Center for Human Relations and Social Justice will offer the fourth Wilkins Community Fellowship, a week-long intensive program that introduces participants –   mostly nonprofit leaders of color – to public policy analysis skills, using a racial lens.
  • The Somali Action Alliance Education Fund will encourage and prepare Somali residents of the Twin Cities who are interested in leadership positions on neighborhood councils, city boards and commissions, school site councils, nonprofit boards, and elected office. It will also support the organization’s work to convene community members and police officials around issues of police/community relations.
  • Through its Justice 4 All campaign, the Take Action Education Fund will continue its participation on the Restore the Vote Coalition, leading the coalition’s grassroots organizing effort to restore voting rights to nearly 50,000 Minnesotans who are living in our community with a supervised status after a felony conviction.
  • The Twin Cities Media Alliance will shape and share narratives that support movement-building and inspire new thinking among decision-makers, while also working to increase the communications capacity of nonprofit organizations serving marginalized communities.
  • Voices for Racial Justice will advance racial, social, cultural, and economic justice through its community organizer trainings, strategic public policy research, and convening of multi-racial coalitions.
  • Vote Run Lead will continue to offer in-person and online training to inform and equip the growing, diverse network of Twin Cities women who are interested in civic leadership. Vote Run Lead is a national nonpartisan organization that is building a diverse pipeline of talented, qualified women who aim to step into positions of community leadership.
  • The WE WIN Institute will offer Parents Make the Academic Difference, a program that helps low-income parents of color advocate for their children in order to increase student achievement. The program also helps parents advance equity by influencing school policies and procedures.
  • Women Organizing Women will execute its signature Dumar Leadership Model, a culturally specific approach to civic leadership development that was created by and for Somali American women.
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 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 help secure jobs for people of color on the largest 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.
  • Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative will address comprehensive community-based approaches to support stable housing, employment, and training for those leaving incarceration.
  • 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.
  • Build Wealth Minnesota Inc. will deliver financial education and wealth creation services for low- and moderate-income families in Minneapolis.
  • 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 in Minneapolis.
  • The Creating IT Futures Foundation will provide information technology training in high-demand career-track jobs to low-income communities of color in Minneapolis.
  • Dunwoody College of Technology will provide training in high-demand career-track jobs in the technical sector for low-income women and women of color in Minneapolis.
  • EMERGE Community Development will provide comprehensive workforce and career path training and placement for chronically un- and underemployed workers in Minneapolis.
  • ISAIAH, a faith-based movement for economic and racial justice, will work to reduce predatory lending and other debt practices targeting low-income communities and communities of color.
  • The Jeremiah Program will support low-income mothers attain college degrees and break the cycle of poverty with a multigenerational approach to career readiness.
  • Jewish Community Action will work with allies to secure changes at the city, county, and state levels to reduce racial disparities in homeownership, small business development, and access to financial services.
  • 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 support place-based career and financial services for low- and moderate-income families at six Financial Opportunity Centers managed by local nonprofits.
  • 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.
  • The Minneapolis American Indian Center will introduce a culinary arts training program.
  • The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits will provide advocacy, coalition leadership, and analysis to help lower-income working families by working to expand the Working Family Credit.
  • The Neighborhood Development Center will provide technical assistance to new and existing minority-owned businesses in low-income neighborhoods in Minneapolis.
  • 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 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 improve employment outcomes for 2,000 African American men from North Minneapolis through its North@Work initiative.
  • 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 will provide its employment training program to 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 workforce training and placement for chronically un- and underemployed workers.
  • Somali Success School will develop a new commercial sewing program that will certify individuals to obtain jobs in local manufacturing of garments and sewn goods.
  • Southeast Asian Refugee Community Home will provide workforce training and career pathways for immigrants and refugees in Minneapolis.
  • Summit Academy OIC will offer its new GED Program and Summit Prep tutoring initiative.
  • 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 will provide comprehensive job training and placement for chronically unemployed people of color in Minneapolis.
  • Asian Media Access will offer its bicultural parent education and advocacy skills program to Southeast Asian families in North Minneapolis.
  • Baby’s Space: A Place to Grow will provide its four-star Parent Aware-rated early childhood education program and 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 leverages youth development programming to build relationships with families, will continue its parent empowerment work in the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis.
  • Bright Water Elementary, a high-performing K-6 Montessori charter school in North Minneapolis, will strengthen its use of data and best practices to support academic growth. Bright Water also plans to structure its school day to include more literacy and math interventions and enrichment opportunities for students and embed more collaboration and professional development time for its teachers and support staff.
  • Educators 4 Excellence will continue developing Minnesota teachers as leaders in education policy, from schools to the state legislature. E4E’s membership includes more than 1,500 teachers in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area who are passionate about advancing positive outcomes for students.
  • Friendship Academy of the Arts, a K-6 charter school near Powderhorn Park in South Minneapolis, will create leadership and collaboration opportunities within its teacher workforce and include students in the design of its curriculum and instruction. Friendship Academy is a 2016 National Blue Ribbon School. The federal designation recognizes schools that pioneer innovative practices to prepare all children for college and careers. Friendship was one of only five schools in the state to receive this honor in 2016.
  • The Harvest Network of Schools, a charter management organization, will continue providing high-intensity interventions to improve student achievement as it manages three schools and positions its model for continued replication in North Minneapolis.
  • Hiawatha Academies will continue expanding its high-performing charter school network in South Minneapolis. Hiawatha currently operates four schools that serve about 1,250 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. Last year, 100% of the four-year-olds in this four-star Parent Aware-rated program were assessed as ready for kindergarten.
  • KIPP Minnesota, a charter school in North Minneapolis, will add kindergarten and first grade and continue its expansion from a middle school to serving students in grades K-8 by 2020.
  • MIGIZI, an American Indian media, educational support, and asset-building organization, will continue working with school district staff and others to advance racial equity in Minneapolis Public Schools. It will also continue to monitor the district’s implementation of its equity and diversity policy and propose policy changes to eliminate racial disparities in district schools.
  • Minneapolis Public Schools will provide technical assistance and coaching to the leadership cohort of the district’s six Community Partnership Schools to address common challenges, share ideas, and advance initiatives to foster positive school climates, improve student achievement, reduce disparities, and engage parents and community members.
  • Minnesota Comeback will continue driving the growth of high-quality K-12 schools in Minneapolis’ highest-needs neighborhoods by building organizational capacity in the areas of school development, talent, facilities, community engagement, and policy. Minnesota Comeback’s goal is to create 30,000 seats for low-income students in high-quality schools by 2025.
  • Minnesota Education Equity Partnership will work to address racial discipline disparities in Minneapolis Public Schools, disseminate suspension data to inform the community, and convene parents and community stakeholders to shape equitable policies.
  • The Nonprofits Assistance Fund will provide financial and management assistance and access to working capital and loans to charter schools working to close the opportunity gap for low-income students and students of color in Minneapolis.
  • Northeast College Prep, a K-5 charter school in Northeast Minneapolis, will continue expanding in its new location. Northeast College Prep uses an International Baccalaureate curriculum framework and works to close opportunity gaps by focusing on social and emotional development, differentiated literacy instruction, and an inquiry and problem-solving based approach to math.
  • The Northside Achievement Zone will leverage education as a tool to end multigenerational poverty and ensure that children graduate from high school ready for college. NAZ is a collaboration of schools, housing, health, career, and other organizations that focus on a 13 by 18 block area of North Minneapolis. The Minneapolis Foundation supports NAZ’s efforts to engage parents as leaders in closing the opportunity gap.
  • 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.
  • Prodeo Academy, a charter school in Northeast Minneapolis, will continue to provide a rigorous K-3 academic program grounded in data-driven instruction, trauma-informed behavior management, and research-based teaching and learning strategies that close opportunity gaps.
  • Reading Partners Twin Cities, which trains community volunteers to provide literacy interventions to elementary students, will expand its data-driven, individualized tutoring and literacy program to serve five high-needs Minneapolis Public Schools.
  • 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 will launch community-based chapters, continue growing its membership base of parents and students, build authentic power in local communities to demand schools that prepare students for college-level coursework, and hold elected officials accountable for delivering an equitable public education.
  • Teach for America Twin Cities will recruit, train, and place diverse, high-potential teachers 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, motor development, and developmental therapies at its two multicultural therapeutic preschools in Minneapolis. The Family Partnership works to ensure that children facing developmental delays or adverse early childhood experiences meet developmental and learning milestones and are prepared for kindergarten.
  • Think Small will continue providing coaching and assistance to increase the number of early learning programs in Minneapolis that are rated under the Parent Aware quality system. It will also administer and connect families to early learning scholarships and continue its statewide advocacy for increased access to high-quality early learning environments.
  • Way to Grow will continue providing its high-quality preschools, home visiting, support services, health and parent engagement programs for low-income families in Minneapolis.