Minnesota Helps – Drake Hotel Fire Recovery Fund Q&A

The following provides key details about the Minnesota Helps – Drake Hotel Fire Recovery Fund. All donations made to the fund will go directly to support the immediate and long-term needs of the individuals and families impact by the fire. The Minneapolis Foundation is not charging a fee for administration of this fund and is covering all credit card and online transaction-related costs.

Last updated: February 24, 2020, 2:00 p.m. CST

What is The Minneapolis Foundation’s role in the community response to the Drake Hotel fire?

The Minneapolis Foundation is administering the Minnesota Helps – Drake Hotel Fire Recovery Fund, an emergency response fund activated to enable generous people and businesses to pool their donations in support of the community response to the Drake Hotel fire. These contributions will help ensure that those affected by the fire receive both immediate and long-term recovery assistance through the coordinated, multi-agency response to this crisis.

As a 105-year-old community foundation, The Minneapolis Foundation was well-positioned to quickly activate this fund. We are an experienced steward of charitable funds and have strong relationships with many local nonprofits that provide critical services, civic leaders who can help us drive change, and donors who care about creating a stronger, more equitable community. We believe we have a tremendous responsibility to step up in times of crisis to fulfill our mission of strengthening our community.

How much money has been donated, how much has been spent, and how has it been spent?

As of February 24, 2020, the public has contributed just over $606,000 to the Minnesota Helps – Drake Hotel Fire Recovery Fund. Gifts at every level have been enormously generous and impactful. As of the same date, approximately $589,000 has been distributed to meet the immediate and long-term needs of the individuals and families impacted by the fire in the following ways:

  • $50,000 (over two separate grants) to Salvation Army Harbor Light Center for hot meals and emergency supplies
  • $25,000 to the Folwell Neighborhood Association, which is on the ground providing direct support to the individuals and families impacted by the fire
  • $40,000 to First Covenant Church of Minneapolis to provide hospitable, safe, sanitary, and supportive temporary shelter to fire survivors
  • Equitable distribution of $28,000 in cash and gift cards to those impacted by the fire to help them through the weekend after the fire and New Year’s holiday
  • $11,758 to the Cultural Wellness Center for their first responder and navigation efforts working with families impacted by the fire
  • $400,000 (over two separate grants) to Pillsbury United Communities help find short-term and long-term housing solutions for those impacted by the fire, including assistance in locating housing and help filling out paperwork, as well as funds to help cover costs for application fees, down payments and other necessary steps to secure housing
  • $35,000 to Urban Homeworks to directly assist families with deposits, rental assistance, and/or other housing needs

While these are important steps in recovery, we know additional contributions will be needed as damage and needs continue to be assessed.  

How will the remainder of the donations be spent? What is the role of The Minneapolis Foundation long-term?

We know that recovery work is far from over. From our experience partnering with community organizations during other crisis situations, we anticipate that needs will continue to arise. With that in mind, we will continue to partner with community organizations and deploy charitable resources to help fire survivors achieve stability.

Why didn’t The Minneapolis Foundation distribute the money raised directly to the individuals and families affected by the fire?

Every survivor of the fire was living at the Drake Hotel as a result of unique circumstances, and each has unique needs. Many of the fire survivors need assistance not only replacing personal possessions and ensuring that they continue to have a roof over their heads in the short term, but also finding long-term housing and addressing other challenges related to health, employment, and child care. In the immediate aftermath of the fire, we deployed some funds in the form of cash and gift cards to help survivors with urgent needs. However, deploying the entire fund in the form of checks to all the survivors would not give them sufficient resources to recover fully from this crisis. Supporting partner organizations on the ground that are working specifically with these individuals and families, and which specialize in disaster recovery, housing, and other direct services, will help ensure that those affected by the fire receive equitable assistance that meets their individual needs.

In what ways have we included Drake Hotel residents and other community members in the decision-making process about how the Minnesota Helps Fund is used?

Listening is a core value of The Minneapolis Foundation. As we do in all our grantmaking, we have made it a priority to gather input from those most proximate to the crisis as we fulfill our role of stewarding charitable dollars donated to the Minnesota Helps Fund. We are in close contact with Hennepin County, the Red Cross, and other partner organizations that have case workers and volunteers on the ground working with individuals and families to assess their unique needs. In addition, in the immediate aftermath of the fire, one of our staff members visited First Covenant Church and the hotel where survivors were staying to hear directly from them. We recognize that every person affected by the fire has different needs and a unique point of view.

We take seriously our responsibility to ensure that the Minnesota Helps Fund is deployed in an efficient, effective, and organized manner. The Minneapolis Foundation is not a direct service provider, and we are relying heavily on expert partners who are to help us ensure that charitable dollars are distributed equitably and to the right people. We encourage Drake Hotel residents who have not already done so to connect with the Red Cross, Hennepin County, and the partner organizations we are supporting through the Minnesota Helps Fund.

We will continue to hold ourselves to the highest standard of transparency and accountability as we steward the Minnesota Helps Fund.

Where can those impacted go for help or to access resources needed for both short-term and long-term recovery?

Drake Hotel residents displaced by the fire and not already connected to American Red Cross services are encouraged to call (612) 871-7676.

The Minneapolis Foundation will continue to be transparent in the distribution of the funds. Please continue to check this blog for updates.