100 Years of Stories

From E.L. Carpenter, a founder of the Foundation who also led the establishment of the Minnesota Orchestra, to Frances Andrews, a conservationist and donor who helped secure federal protection of what ultimately became the Boundary Waters, the stories of the people behind the Foundation are endless — and undeniably worth sharing.

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Photograph courtesy of MNHS

How It All Began

A lawyer, two lumbermen and two bankers came together with a vision: To build “a wisely planned and enduring fabric” to benefit the community for years to come. They brought that vision to life by establishing The Minneapolis Foundation.

A century later, the Foundation continues to connect people, ideas and resources to improve the lives of all people and expand the culture of generosity in Minneapolis. Over the last 100 years, the Foundation has invested $850 million locally, nationally and globally to address issues and fund solutions, but it all started with 1.

One passion, 1 donation, 1 organization, 1 cause, 1 community—1 foundation.

The Minneapolis Foundation’s incorporating founders: E.L. Carpenter, F.M. Prince, Elbridge C. Cooke, F.A. Chamberlain, and Hovey C. Clarke.

Photograph courtesy of MNHS

Photograph courtesy of MNHS

The Wells Family Legacy

The Wells family established their first family fund in honor of Thomas Wells, beginning a multigenerational relationship with The Minneapolis Foundation. Each fund has served a different purpose over the years: Supporting the Wells Memorial House, a social services and settlement house. Providing medical services for working women. Sustaining the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, Dunwoody Institute, and the Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts. The Wells family’s legacy lives on in all corners of our community to this day, and will for generations to come.

Photograph courtesy of MNHS

An Education in the Arts

The Martha H. Gould Fund, one of the earliest funds at the Foundation, was established to help girls get an education in the arts. Today, Martha’s legacy continues. The fund has supported Film in the Cities, the Minnesota Center for Arts Education, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, the Minnetonka Center for Art and Education, Pillsbury Neighborhood Services, the Walker Arts Center, Women’s Registry of Minnesota, and the Zenon Dance Company and School.

All in the Family

Foundation donor Benjamin Stephenson would be honored to learn that an organization he supported in 1922, Minneapolis Associated Charities, still thrives today as The Family Partnership (formerly Family and Children’s Service). One of the oldest organizations in the Twin Cities, The Family Partnership has helped more than one million of our community’s most vulnerable children and families since 1878.

Photograph courtesy of MNHS


Not Afraid to Paddle Upstream

Conservationist and philanthropist Frances Andrews helped secure federal protection of 640,000 acres in what ultimately became the Boundary Waters. Today, more than one million acres are federally protected. With 250,000 annual visitors, the Boundary Waters is the most visited wilderness area in the United States!


More Than Just a Band-Aid

In 1926, The Minneapolis Foundation became the fiscal agent for the University of Minnesota Medical School Endowment Fund. The Foundation also fundraised for the construction of new medical facilities.

Photograph courtesy of MNHS

A True American Boy Scout

Charles Deere Velie was the grandson of John Deere, the blacksmith whose steel plows broke ground for what is now a Fortune 500 company. In 1926, Velie established a fund at the Foundation to support the Boy Scouts of America. When he died, he made another gift of $200,000 to The Minneapolis Foundation—the Foundation’s first large-scale active fund.


Before There Was Disco

The Village People aren’t the only ones dancing. As far back as 1929, the Foundation was doing the YMCA, too! Some of the Foundation’s earliest grants went to the YMCA, which continues to receive support from our donors. The Foundation is proud of our longstanding partnership with this community institution on projects that have ranged from renovation work to family counseling services to the majestic Camp Tamarac.

Photograph courtesy of MNHS

Photograph courtesy of MNHS

The City’s Debt to Mr. Boutell

“The City’s Debt to Mr. Boutell” was the headline of a news story that ran in the Minneapolis Tribune after Walter D. Boutell died. We’re still in his debt. Boutell cared deeply about children, expectant mothers, and the poor, and his compassion lives on through a community gift that he entrusted to the Foundation. Decades after his death, his legacy paid for “camperships” that sent struggling Minnesota kids to summer camp. The Boutell fund still supports the causes he cared about, from home health nursing to the Salvation Army.

For the Love of Children

The Washburn Center for Children and the Foundation have something in common: A passion for helping children that has stood the test of time. Originally founded as the Washburn Memorial Orphan Asylum, Washburn received funding from the Foundation as far back as 1930 to assist high-risk children in greater Minneapolis. The Foundation has continued to support Washburn as its programs and services have evolved to address the community’s changing needs over the years.

Photograph courtesy of MNHS


Samuel Hill

Samuel Hill was a lawyer and railroad executive who worked for the Great Northern Railroad at the end of the 19th century. He also served for a time as vice president of the Minneapolis Athenaeum, a private subscription library established in 1859 that was the precursor of the Minneapolis Public Library. When he died in 1931, Hill was vice president and owned hundreds of shares of stock in the Athenaeum, giving him a controlling interest in the corporation. In his will, Hill entrusted the stock to The Minneapolis Foundation.

Today, the Minneapolis Athenaeum shares space with Special Collections at the Minneapolis Central Library. Highlights of its collection include an original hand-colored edition of Audubon’s Birds of America and many important early books on Native American communities.


Quality Health Care for All

The Visiting Nurses Association, an early Foundation grant recipient, built a curative workshop in downtown Minneapolis to better serve the community’s health care needs. Today, Foundation donors proudly continue to support MVNA’s mission to improve lives at all ages through home and community health services.

Photograph courtesy of MNHS

Photograph courtesy of MNHS

Preserving History

Early preservation efforts of Northeast Minneapolis were aided by the Northeast Neighborhood House Association, a Foundation grant recipient during the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s.

Photograph courtesy of MNHS


Emergency Response:
Pearl Harbor

Just weeks after Pearl Harbor, the Foundation approved a grant to the emergency fund of the American Red Cross to support immediate needs.


A Medical Pioneer Moves to Minneapolis

Got aches and pains? Sister Kenny probably had a solution. Australian nurse Elizabeth Kenny, aka “Sister Kenny,” revolutionized the treatment of polio in the early 1900s when she applied moist hot packs to help loosen muscles, relieve pain, and enable limbs to be moved, stretched, and strengthened. In 1940, she made her way to Minneapolis, bringing along her pioneering principles of muscle rehabilitation, which became the foundation of physical therapy. Established in 1942, The Sister Kenny Institute quickly became one of the nation’s premier rehabilitation centers. It’s no wonder The Minneapolis Foundation chose to invest in it in the 1950s!

Today, Sister Kenny’s legacy lives on at the Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute. The institute aims to maximize quality of life for people of all ages and all abilities.


Community Chest

During the 1940s, The Minneapolis Foundation made regular contributions to the Minneapolis War Chest and Community Chest (early United Way campaigns) to support social services.

In addition to sharing a Centennial, the United Way and the Foundation have something else in common: Flexibility. Together, we are continuing to meet the ever-changing needs in our community.

Photograph courtesy of MNHS


A Lumberman with an Ear for Timbre

Did you know that The Minneapolis Foundation and the Minnesota Orchestra have a founder in common? E.L. Carpenter, a lumberman with an ear for timbre, helped found the orchestra and served as president of the Minnesota Orchestral Association from 1905 to 1945. Upon his death in 1945, the Minneapolis Tribune wrote, “Death Monday took the last of Minnesota’s empire builders, a man with the vision to see that the ring of the lumberjack’s saw could be transmuted into the deep resonance of a great orchestra.”

Originally founded as the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, which gave its first performance in 1903, the internationally acclaimed Minnesota Orchestra adopted its current name in 1968. In a typical year, the orchestra presents nearly 175 programs to live audiences totaling 350,000 people.

Photograph courtesy of MNHS

A Hotel Becomes a Home

The Minneapolis Foundation purchased the Field Hotel on South Eighth Street in Minneapolis to help The Braille Center expand its counseling and nursing services for the blind. Today, that building is occupied by House of Charity, an organization dedicated to helping homeless men and women.

Photograph courtesy of MNHS

More Dough In, More Dough Out

In 1950, The Minneapolis Foundation distributed $95,147.76 to local charities and civic groups, using much of the interest from its 46 funds under management. Two of the funds, which totaled over $400,000, were in memory of the late Mrs. Alfred F. Pillsbury, the daughter-in-law of Pillsbury Co. founder John S. Pillsbury. The smallest fund at the Foundation was $300 (the equivalent of $3,000 today).


The Artificial Kidney

Patients suffering from kidney disease took advantage of a new “artificial kidney,” the forerunner of dialysis, at Minneapolis General Hospital (now Hennepin County Medical Center), which was funded in part by the Foundation.

Photograph courtesy of MNHS


Outstanding Public Television

Before there was Downton Abbey, Minnesotans relied on KTCA to provide outstanding public television programs. The Foundation has been a long-time funding partner of KTCA, underwriting programs like Backwards to Back Streets, a documentary exploring the world of the mentally ill.


Coffee with Your Concert?

That was the idea behind a series of daytime concerts by the Minnesota Orchestra that were underwritten by a fund at the Foundation.

Photograph courtesy of MNHS

Photograph courtesy of MNHS

Help In Times of Crisis

A longtime fund at the Foundation, the Minneapolis Emergency Fund was conceived in 1968 as a resource for disadvantaged people. The fund made emergency grants to both individuals and human service organizations, helping members of our community in times of crisis.


Angels for Equal Opportunity

A group of wealthy Minneapolis-area families anonymously pooled their money to help low-income minority individuals make down payments on homes and obtain seed money for businesses. The fund was called the Minneapolis Equal Opportunity Fund.


A Theater for the People

Sir Tyrone Guthrie may have hailed from England, but it was Minneapolis where he built the theater named in his honor. The Guthrie opened in 1963—with help from The Minneapolis Foundation, which contributed to the theater’s construction fund.

Photograph courtesy of MNHS

Photograph courtesy of MNHS

Welcome Aboard, Russell Ewald

Surprising but true: For the first 55 years of our existence, the Foundation had no full-time staff! We hired our first full-time executive director, Russell Ewald, in 1970—the same year we opened an office at the Chamber of Commerce building in Minneapolis.

Photograph courtesy of McKnight Foundation


Building More than a Museum

Mention the Walker Art Center, and many Minnesotans immediately think of the iconic sculpture Spoonbridge and Cherry. Since the museum opened in 1927, the Walker has received support from many Foundation donors. Some, for example, helped fund construction of the renowned building designed by architect Edward Larrabee Barnes, which opened in 1971.

Photograph courtesy of Walker Art Center


Tackling Segregation in the Classroom

The Foundation granted $130,000 to the Minneapolis school board to help the school district roll out an innovative pilot program to facilitate desegregation at Bryant, Anthony and Ramsey junior high schools. At the time, it was the largest grant in the Foundation’s history.


Revitalizing the Phillips Neighborhood

Project for Pride in Living has been working with The Foundation since the early 70’s to revitalize the Phillips neighborhood. In 1974, the Foundation supported the development of a renovation program for the Phillips neighborhood and, in 1979, partially funded the initial costs of developing a Section 8 rental housing project for low- and moderate-income families.


Kids Deserve Theater, Too

In 1975, The Minneapolis Foundation granted $15,000 to help the Children’s Theatre Company and School meet operational needs during its initial period as an independent organization. (Previously, it had been connected to the Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts.) The Children’s Theatre, which is approaching its 50th anniversary, woos young audiences from across the state with such unforgettable productions as Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The theater makes performances accessible to all children through free and subsidized tickets, and nurtures a love of theater in young children through its early education programming.


Hollywood History Lessons

The Foundation made a grant to the Jewish Community Relations Council to print and distribute a discussion guide to a television program called The Holocaust, which ran in April 1978.

Photograph courtesy of Collection of the Nathan and Theresa Berman Upper Midwest Jewish Archives

Photograph courtesy of MNHS

Nonprofits Assistance Fund Launches

As anyone who does it can tell you, running a small nonprofit is hard work! The Nonprofits Assistance Fund strengthens our community by supporting nonprofits with loans, training, practical guidance and financial management resources. Originally started as a program of The Minneapolis Foundation in 1980, the Nonprofits Assistance Fund is now an independent organization that recently celebrated $150 million in cumulative lending to nonprofits. Those 2,500-plus loans have helped pay for everything from new windows at a mental health counseling center in Bemidji to a cash-flow loan for a homeless shelter in Grand Rapids.


Hitting All the Right Notes

The MacPhail Center for Music has been making beautiful music for over 100 years. In 1981, the Foundation hit all the right notes by covering costs for a new music performance program for Minneapolis adults.

Photograph courtesy of Macphail Center for Music

Building A Museum for Children

Foundation donors supported the Minnesota Children’s Museum when it was just a baby! A Foundation grant helped with start-up costs of the museum—a hands-on place where kids could learn, play and explore. In December 1981, the first children entered the original Children’s Museum, which was then called Minnesota’s AwareHouse and located in downtown Minneapolis. Today, the museum has engaged more than 6 million children and families.


Fighting Domestic Violence

Founded by Latina activists in St. Paul, Casa de Esperanza has fought to end domestic violence since 1982. In addition to running a crisis line and many other projects, the nonprofit produced My Girlfriend Did It, a groundbreaking documentary on interpersonal violence in lesbian relationships. The Foundation funded a screening of that film in 2008 – just one of the ways we’ve stood with Casa de Esperanza over the years.


The Power of Women

A desire to remove barriers for women and girls led to the creation of the Women’s Fund at The Minneapolis Foundation. The Fund eventually grew into a separate organization, The Women’s Foundation, which is now the oldest statewide women’s foundation in the nation.

Creating a Family-Focused Shelter

Go on and start me up! The Foundation supported People Serving People in its infancy, granting $20,000 for start-up costs. Today, the organization continues to serve homeless children and their families—and still receives support from Foundation donors.


Ending Torture Worldwide

There are more than 30,000 torture survivors in Minnesota. The Center for Victims of Torture has supported many of them at a Healing Center in St. Paul. But since its founding in 1985, the nonprofit has also grown into an international organization with global impact in advocacy, training and research. Through support of the Center, the Foundation and our donors are working to advance human rights and end torture worldwide.

Photograph courtesy of Ellen Hinchcliffe

Howe to Save

Emma B. Howe was the sixth of 13 children in a struggling farm family. She grew up to be a hard worker, putting in six days a week as a proofreader for Deluxe Check Printers in the Twin Cities. One of the first employees of the fledgling company, she was often paid in stock and acquired more over the course of her working life. She never sold a share.

Read more


Constructing the Whitney Bridge

The Whitney Bridge spans some of the busiest traffic in the city and is a local landmark, connecting Loring Park with the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. A 1988 grant from the Hixon Whitney Family Fund at the Foundation helped fund its construction.

Photograph courtesy of Walker Art Center

Preparing Our Children for School

Minneapolis Mayor Don Fraser and Honeywell CEO Jim Renier co-chaired a task force to address alarming evidence that many Minneapolis children weren’t getting the early learning experiences they needed to thrive when they started school. The task force sparked creation of an in-home program with staff who lived in the same communities they served. That program grew into Way to Grow, a longtime grantee of the Foundation that recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. The Minneapolis nonprofit runs preschools and a home-visiting program, working closely with parents to ensure that children in our community’s most isolated families are born healthy, stay healthy and are prepared for school.

The Fight Against AIDS Crosses the River

The Minnesota AIDS Funding Consortium, the first-ever collaboration between The Minneapolis Foundation and the St. Paul Foundation, was formed to support HIV/AIDS action organizations. The consortium, part of the National Community AIDS Partnership, made $1.2 million in grants during its first two years, funding 54 projects related to AIDS education, prevention and care.


Open Your Mind, Not Your Wallet

The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, one of The Minneapolis Foundation’s earliest grantees, was created in 1915 by the Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts.

In September 1989, museum director Evan Maurer announced that the museum would no longer charge a general admission fee. This new policy was evidence of the museum’s strong desire to make art more accessible to the general public and to eliminate barriers that might prevent full accessibility to the museum’s magnificent collection.

Photograph courtesy of Minneapolis Institute of Arts


Fast Track to a Living Wage

Founded by former General Mills executive Steve Rothschild, Twin Cities RISE! offers classes, one-on-one coaching, personal empowerment and internship opportunities to train low-income adults – mostly men of color – for skilled jobs that pay a living wage. Since 1993, The Minneapolis Foundation and our donors have given more than $2.7 million to help Twin Cities RISE! fight poverty through work skills training.


Welcoming Our New Neighbors

How’s this for Minnesota Nice? For twenty years, the Confederation of Somali Community has been helping immigrants build new lives in Minnesota. By connecting families with resources to help them apply for jobs, enroll in schools and navigate the health care system, the Confederation paves the way for them to become self-sufficient members of our community. Supporting the Confederation is one way the Foundation has extended a warm welcome to new neighbors.


Oscar Howard’s Legacy

Oscar Howard, founder of Meals on Wheels, started a fund to provide educational scholarships for local youth, continuing his legacy to improving lives.

A Bustling Minnesota Bikeway

In 1995, the Midtown Greenway Coalition received a $9,000 grant to hire part-time staff, and in 1999 got a grant for $110,000 to support three years of land-use planning for the Greenway project. It took years to build, but the Midtown Greenway is now one of the busiest bikeways in Minnesota.

Minority-Owned Businesses Get a Boost

Between 1995 and the summer of 2013, the Urban Initiative Program made nearly 800 small business loans – 81 percent of which supported minority-owned businesses – and supported the creation of more than 1,000 jobs. A 1995 Foundation grant that supported the program’s efforts to strengthen minority enterprise development, encourage private investment, create jobs and promote economic development in low-income areas is just one example of the Foundation’s commitment to helping small and minority-owned businesses succeed.


A Fresh Look at Inner City Neighborhoods

Say cheese! For a photo exhibit called Self Images: A Fresh Look at Inner City Neighborhoods, residents of Minneapolis’ poorest neighborhoods were given cameras and asked to take pictures of what they thought was important where they lived. Their photos—of churches, community centers, quiet houses and kids playing—were displayed in the First Bank Lobby of the Guthrie Theater. The exhibit was just one piece of the Foundation’s Building Better Futures project—a ten-year, $20 million investment to reduce poverty, build capacity and improve the quality of life in the Elliot Park, Harrison, Near North, Phillips, Stevens Square-Loring Heights, Sumner-Glenwood and Whittier neighborhoods.

A Safe Place for People Living with HIV/AIDS

In 1996, Abbott Northwestern Hospital opened the doors of Park House, one of only six programs in the United States that provides day health services for people with HIV/AIDS. The Minneapolis Foundation granted nearly $20,000 to help launch this outpatient service. Today, Park House continues to enhance quality of life, maximize human dignity, promote independence and minimize hospitalization and institutionalization of people living with HIV/AIDS.


Starting a Foundation for Children

In 1998, the law firm of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi seized a huge opportunity to give back to the community. Robins, Kaplan represented the State of Minnesota in a historic lawsuit to hold the tobacco industry responsible for smoking-related illnesses. After a 15-week trial, the case settled with the tobacco defendants agreeing to pay the state more than $6 billion. Using fees earned in that case, Robins, Kaplan came to The Minneapolis Foundation with a $30 million gift that was used to start the Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi Foundation for Children, which supports Minnesota schools, education initiatives and youth-focused nonprofits.

Healthy Women, Healthy Community

Today you’ll find neighborhood kids frolicking in the waterpark at the YWCA on East Lake Street, which was built with significant Foundation support in 1998. The sports and youth development center helped transform the area into a welcoming place for families.

A Small Business Incubator

If you’ve lived in Minneapolis for a few years, chances are you’ve seen how a neighborhood can find new life in the dreams of its small business owners – and the investors who believe in them. Investing in the American Indian Business Development Corporation’s renovation to create space for a small business incubator in the Phillips neighborhood is just one way that the Foundation has enriched neighborhoods and helped small businesses get off the ground.


Redefining “Affordable” Housing

The Foundation gave a special $250,000 grant to a collaborative of more than 70 organizations led by the Minnesota Housing Partnership and Tunheim, a public relations firm, to carry out Housing Minnesota, a statewide advertising campaign to change perceptions about affordable housing.

Big Brother. Big Sister. Big Impact.

The Gamble-Skogmo Fund, one of the Foundation’s Community Action Funds, helped build a brighter future for our community by granting $60,000 to Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Greater Minneapolis. The funding supported a neighborhood partnership program that provided adult mentors for youth in seven high-poverty Minneapolis neighborhoods.

Photograph courtesy of Big Brother and Big Sisters

Enhancing the Best of Minnesota

How do you build smart and sprawl less? That’s the issue being tackled by Envision Minnesota (formerly called 1000 Friends of Minnesota). In 1999, the Foundation supported a project of theirs focused on sustainable land use. Today, their journey continues with efforts to promote development that enhances the best of Minnesota: Thriving small towns and cities, healthy natural resources and a growing economy.


Emergency Response: 9/11

After the September 11 terror attacks, community foundations across the country immediately went to work to fund relief efforts for the families of the victims. Within days, Minneapolis Foundation donors and other community members responded generously to the appeal for aid. Foundation donors directed more than half a million dollars to relief efforts through the September 11th Fund, which was established by the New York Community Trust—a fellow community foundation—and the New York United Way.


Think Twice

Tensions rose in 2002 as Minnesota lawmakers grappled over how to close a state budget gap of $1.95 billion. In late November, the governor’s budget director announced that all grants to nonprofit organizations would be frozen pending legislative action to address the shortfall. Recognizing the need for immediate action, The Minneapolis Foundation funded Think Twice, the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits’ first advertising campaign, to urge citizens to contact their elected officials during the legislative session and voice their support for the work of nonprofits in their community.

Career Ready, College Ready

Twin Cities education, business, government and civic leaders teamed up to launch AchieveMpls, the nonprofit partner of Minneapolis Public Schools. AchieveMpls runs career and college readiness programs, raises money for strategic school district initiatives, manages scholarship funds and much more. Since 2002, The Minneapolis Foundation and its donors have given more than $3 million to support AchieveMpls’ mission.

Criminal Disenfranchisement in Minnesota

Recognizing that the right to vote is a fundamental act of citizenship, The Minneapolis Foundation funded “Criminal Disenfranchisement in Minnesota,” a report issued by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights in 2002. The report took a close look at Minnesota’s felon disenfranchisement law, its impact on African-Americans, and possible challenges that could be made to the law. Research revealed that 9.43 percent of the African-American voting-age population in Minnesota was disenfranchised in the year 2000, compared to about 1.05 percent of the non-African-American voting population. The report concluded that any effort to expand the vote to include a greater percentage of ex-felons would be a positive step toward a healthier democracy.


An Exploration of Race

The Minneapolis Foundation underwrote a free day at the Science Museum of Minnesota for patrons to view RACE, a national exhibition that tells the stories of race from biological, cultural, and historical points of view. RACE was a winner of the Excellence in Exhibition Competition at the 2008 meeting of the American Association of Museums.

Photograph courtesy of American Anthropological Association and the Science Museum of Minnesota

Getting Guns Off the Streets

The need to reduce violence drove the Foundation’s decision to fund a gun buy-back program in partnership with the Minneapolis Police Department. The program got more than 200 guns off the streets.


Emergency Response: I-35W Bridge

At 6 p.m. on August 1, commuters were driving home and workers were laying a new surface of concrete on the Interstate 35W bridge in downtown Minneapolis. Then the bridge collapsed into the Mississippi River, killing 13 people and injuring hundreds.

The next day, then-Mayor R.T. Rybak contacted The Minneapolis Foundation, asking the Foundation to take the lead on setting up a fund that would provide an efficient way to pool contributions from the public to aid survivors and the families of those who died. The Minnesota Helps – Bridge Disaster Fund was set up on August 3, and contributions began to pour in.

The Fund collected contributions totaling more than $1.2 million from individuals, businesses, foundations and hundreds of other organizations across the state and around the country who were moved to act in the wake of the bridge disaster. One hundred percent of the funds collected were distributed to aid survivors of the I-35W bridge collapse, as well as those who lost loved ones in the disaster.


“Close The Gap”

A six-part documentary on the region’s growing economic and social disparities, Close The Gap was broadcast on Twin Cities Public Television with support from the Foundation.

Northside Pride

The Northside Funders Group is changing the way philanthropy works in North Minneapolis. An operating partner of The Minneapolis Foundation, the Northside Funders Group brings together private, public and corporate funders that invest $12 million to $17 million each year in nearly 200 organizations serving North Minneapolis. By working together toward a shared vision, these funders aim to increase their collective impact in the neighborhood. The group is focused on building social capital, building thriving learning communities and building thriving economies in North Minneapolis.


Minnesotans Give to the Max

Funded in part by the Foundation, Give to the Max Day was created by GiveMN to inspire giving to nonprofit organizations across the state by engaging as many donors as possible in one day. These charities reflect the diverse needs of communities across Minnesota, such as hunger, autism awareness, animal welfare and wilderness protection. The first Give to the Max Day in 2009 raised $14 million for 3,434 Minnesota nonprofits. In 2014, Minnesotans set a new record, making 119,000 individual donations in one day for a total or more than $18 million.


The New Wave of Philanthropy

The Minneapolis Foundation launched Fourth Generation, a program fostering the next wave of charitable givers in the Twin Cities. Members of Fourth Generation work together every year to learn about a critical issue, identify promising efforts to address it and pool their resources to make a much bigger difference in the community than they could on their own. Fourth Generation’s first year culminated in grants to two groups that focus on youth homelessness: Face to Face and Pillsbury United Communities’ Full Cycle Program.


Minnesota CAN Provide Great Public Education

Funded in part by The Minneapolis Foundation, the Minnesota Campaign for Achievement Now (MinnCAN) works to enact public policies that will ensure that every Minnesota child has access to a great public school. MinnCAN’s focus areas include increasing access to great pre-kindergarten programs, expanding high-quality school options, elevating great teaching and meeting individual student needs. Through research, community mobilization and advocacy, MinnCAN is working to improve education outcomes, especially for students of color and low-income students.

Emergency Response: North Minneapolis Tornado

On May 22, 2011, a deadly tornado ripped through North Minneapolis, destroying property and livelihoods in an already struggling neighborhood. While disaster relief organizations moved swiftly to provide aid, the community got to work. Neighbors helped neighbors clear debris from their yards. Individuals and businesses flocked to North Minneapolis with supplies and helping hands.

Read more


RESET Education Campaign to Close the Achievement Gap

In 2013, with the support of a host of community sponsors, The Minneapolis Foundation launched a major public awareness campaign called RESET Education. The campaign was aimed at business and civic leaders, educational professionals, parents and the community at large. RESET was designed to bring awareness to the urgent needs to close the educational achievement gap in Minnesota and shine light on five strategies that promote creating K-12 schools where every child can succeed. The campaign included three major Minnesota Meeting events that featured national education experts and passionate celebrities like John Legend.


Partnership for a Greener Future

The Minneapolis Foundation entered into a strategic partnership with RE-AMP, a network of 160 nonprofits and foundations across eight Midwestern states. Members of the network are working together on issues related to climate change and energy policy, with the goal of reducing global warming pollution economy-wide by 80 percent by 2050.

All-Day K, Hooray!

After years of advocacy by many, including The Minneapolis Foundation, the state funded all-day kindergarten for the first time in 2014 – a $134 million investment in our children. Previously, about half of Minnesota’s schools offered free all-day kindergarten, while others offered fee-based programs that cost parents $2,000 to $4,000 a year. State education leaders are optimistic that this new state-wide offering could play a key role in reversing the state’s achievement gap between white students and students of color.

“The future productivity of the economy is going to depend on experiences young children have today.”

— Rob Grunewald, Economist, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis

Economic Opportunity, On & Off the Field

Skol Vikings! After the Legislature approved a billion-dollar stadium for the Minnesota Vikings, the Foundation explored ways to make sure more local business owners could take advantage of the project’s economic opportunities. In partnership with several donors, the Foundation set up a Working Capital Loan Fund to eliminate the single largest barrier to minority-owned construction contractors: Access to working capital.

The fund is a $1 million loan to the Metropolitan Economic Development Association (Meda), which has used the money to provide minority-owned businesses with the capital they needed to participate in stadium construction. The loan takes a reuse-and-recycle approach and may revolve four times annually, as businesses repay and the funds are re-loaned.

The Future of Public Policy

The Foundation partnered with Dr. Samuel Myers and the Roy Wilkins Center at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs to develop the Roy Wilkins Public Policy Fellowship. This week-long intensive workshop brought together a select cohort of 19 leaders of color to learn policy analysis and methods of assessing impact, and ultimately to advance equitable public policy measures.

Raise the Wage

With help from a Foundation grant, the Raise the Wage Coalition and many like-minded partners secured a significant victory to move people up and out of poverty. For the first time in nearly a decade, Minnesota raised the minimum wage, increasing the pay of more than 325,000 Minnesotans.

A single parent with two children working full-time for the previous minimum wage of $6.15 per hour earned an annual salary of $12,792—nearly $7,000 below the poverty line. Raising the minimum wage to $9.50 per hour (which the state will do in 2016 as a result of legislative action taken in 2014) helps close the poverty gap, adding another $6,970 to the same family’s annual income.

Project Success

A+ in Future Planning

Through support from the Foundation’s 612 Youth Engagement Project (aka 612 YEP), Project SUCCESS brought 175 middle school students to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area for a special 7-day canoe trip. During the trip, they developed positive skills like goal-setting, leadership, teamwork, and communication. They returned home with a huge sense of accomplishment that is having an amazing impact on their educational and personal growth. Now that’s what we call an A+!


Celebrating 100 Years of Innovative Community Building

To celebrate 100 years of service and commitment to the Minneapolis community, The Minneapolis Foundation hosted the Face Forward Futurist Conference on Sept. 18 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. The conference drew more than 1,500 Twin Cities leaders and residents to learn about innovative approaches to some of the community’s biggest challenges and opportunities. Keynote speakers included physician Atul Gawande, physicist Michio Kaku, charity innovator Dan Pallotta, and longevity expert Dan Buettner. MPR host Kerri Miller served as the conference moderator, leading the day’s robust discussions. In addition, an array of local leaders shared their visions for the future during breakout sessions on community issues such as education, civic engagement, the arts, and economic vitality.