A challenge to fuel support for housing
From the arts to human services, the Edward R. Bazinet Charitable Foundation has a long track record of investing in our community. This year, the foundation is matching contributions to the OneMPLS Fund to address a basic need: Affordable housing.
Maureen Bazinet Beck likes a good deal.
If you walk into Lunds grocery store and find yourself drawn to the “buy one, get one free” signs—well, you are in good company. “I’m a sucker for that kind of stuff,” said Maureen, a longtime advisor of the Edward R. Bazinet Charitable Foundation.
That’s one reason Maureen and her family immediately said yes when they were asked to make a challenge grant to the OneMPLS Fund. By matching contributions up to $100,000, they’re inviting other deal-loving donors to increase the impact of their support for a fund that addresses urgent needs in our community.
The other reason goes to the heart of their philanthropy: This year, the OneMPLS Fund is focusing on fair and affordable housing.
“Housing is so critical,” Maureen said. In her time as a Minneapolis school principal, she routinely saw the effects on kids who lacked stable housing. Aside from the trauma many of them experienced, those students dealt with endless complications in their lives, she said. (Without Internet, it’s hard to do homework. Without a washing machine, it’s hard to do laundry. Without a mailing address…)
More recently, as Maureen and her sisters carry on their brother’s legacy through the Edward R. Bazinet Charitable Foundation, a Signature Fund of the Minneapolis Foundation, they have found common ground in their commitment to addressing basic needs such as jobs and housing. For years, they have supported organizations like Habitat for Humanity and Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative.
The family has also contributed to the OneMPLS Fund since it launched, appreciating its value as a vehicle for community-wide collective impact. This year, with the fund focusing on one of their high-priority issues, they took the opportunity to make a larger grant.
“When the focus of the OneMPLS Fund became housing, and we knew we could collaborate with others, and the money would go to local nonprofits working with people in local neighborhoods who need these services—it was just a logical thing to do.” — Maureen Bazinet Beck
This isn’t the family’s first matching grant—far from it. The Edward R. Bazinet Charitable Foundation was established in 1993 with wealth created from Department 56, a gifts and decorating enterprise that Ed Bazinet started as an employee of Bachman’s and eventually grew into a multimillion-dollar company. “We’ve been around a long time now, and so we’ve been able to be a player in lots of big and small things over the years,” Maureen said.
For many years, Maureen managed the family’s private foundation out of her house, while also raising two children. Eventually, she convinced her brother to let the Minneapolis Foundation assume partial responsibility for the foundation’s work by managing its charitable assets. That was so successful, she said, that she ultimately persuaded him to transition the foundation to its position today as a Signature Fund. Since Ed passed away in 2017, his sisters and key advisors have continued to govern the family’s philanthropy in partnership with the Minneapolis Foundation.
“We’re in good hands here,” said Maureen, who has worked with Philanthropic Advisor Bill Sternberg for more than 15 years.
Her brother’s name recognition is one reason she felt the Edward R. Bazinet Charitable Foundation could help muster resources for housing through the OneMPLS Fund. “I think funders kind of pay attention to each other. We certainly do!” she said. Often, when her family has been approached for major gifts—their support of the new Guthrie Theater and Walker Art Center are just two examples—they’ve evaluated the project in part by asking for a list of other contributors.
If you’ve ever bought gallery passes in the Bazinet Lobby of the Walker Art Center, you might be surprised to learn that Ed Bazinet originally wanted to support the museum anonymously. Maureen said she finally pointed out that, while their family wasn’t one of Minnesota’s founding dynasties, some people knew who they were—and those who did also knew that the Bazinets didn’t come from great wealth. Letting the Walker use his name could inspire other families to be generous, she told her brother. “Having your name on it says, ‘You too can be philanthropic.’”
That message is at the core of the OneMPLS Fund.
“We started this fund to create a pathway for everyone in our community to join forces for good, regardless of how much money each person can contribute,” Bill said. “One of my hopes is that, through the OneMPLS Fund, we can introduce our donors to impactful organizations they might not have heard of, and that a year or two from now, they’ll be inspired to continue supporting those organizations on their own.”