C.H. Robinson Honored for Workplace Giving

April 7, 2014

chEarlier this month, MCF member C.H. Robinson received the Community Impact Award in the Workplace Giving Campaign category from Minnesota Business magazine. The honor recognizes a successful volunteer or employee-giving campaign benefiting any non-profit or other worthy organization.

This is the second year in a row that Minnesota Business has recognized C.H. Robinson in the Workplace Giving Campaign category in recognition of various employee volunteer campaigns that the company facilitates. This year, C.H. Robinson was presented the award for the company’s 14 years of support and dedication to the MinnDakotas chapter of JDRF, the leading global organization focused on type 1 diabetes research.

Each year, C.H. Robinson’s employees gather at the Mall of America in Bloomington, MN to participate in the annual Walk to Cure Diabetes. What began as a small group of employees who participated in the Walk in 2001, has now grown to 645 Team Robinson walkers who participated in this year’s walk.

“We are proud of the work our employees do to make C.H. Robinson a great company,” said Angie Freeman, vice president of human resources at C.H. Robinson. “Awards like this are a reminder that giving back is embedded in our company culture and that the same ingenuity and hard work that help us succeed as a company, also help make our communities better places to live and work.”

Learn More About Corporate Giving

Corporate giving often extends beyond giving grants. Noncash charitable contributions include employee volunteer time such as this and donated goods and services. To learn more about Minnesota’s corporate giving landscape, see our January blog post, and our Giving in Minnesota and Grantmaker Rankings research.

Congratulations to C.H. Robinson!


Cargill Honored for Anti-poverty Work

February 25, 2014

na31147002CECP, a coalition of 150 CEOs who believe that societal improvement is an essential measure of business performance, recently announced that Cargill (an MCF member) and the PG&E Corporation are recipients of the 14th Annual Excellence Awards.

These companies were chosen by an independent jury as global leaders in corporate societal investment, exemplifying four rigorous Standards of Excellence: CEO leadership, partnership, dedication to measurement and innovation.

The Chairman’s Award, for companies with revenues of $20 billion and more, was presented to Cargill for its work with CARE on the Rural Development Initiatives, which harnesses the company’s passion for improving livelihoods by empowering smallholder farmers, strengthening agricultural supply chains and alleviating poverty. The selection committee was struck by Cargill’s focus on society’s great challenge — poverty — and its desire to strengthen the communities where the company has a presence.

Launched in October 2008, the partnership with CARE leverages their respective skills and experience – working with business units and local employees within important supply chains. The program has benefited more than 100,000 people in India, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Brazil.

“CARE is a terrific partner and we are honored to be recognized for our collective work to increase incomes, improve nutrition and education, and help farmers become more successful,” said Cargill executive chairman Greg Page (pictured left). “Last fall we renewed and expanded our partnership for another three years with an increased focus on food security.”


Mission Investing Gaining Minnesota Momentum

February 12, 2014

mieEvery seat was filled at Northwest Area Foundation on Tuesday at a grantmaker “think tank” on mission investing.

What is mission investing? According to Mission Investors Exchange:

Mission investments cover two distinct categories: market-rate mission-related investments (MRIs) that have a positive social impact while contributing to the foundation’s long-term financial stability and growth; and program-related investments (PRIs) that are designed to achieve specific program objectives while earning a below-market rate return.

In other words, it’s about  using the so-called “other 95%” (beyond the 5% annual grants payout) to achieve mission.

According to MCF’s latest Giving in Minnesota report, Minnesota grantmakers grant approximately $1.7 billion annually and hold almost $18 billion in foundation assets. Through mission investing strategies they can leverage a portion of that $18 billion for social good. (For more on mission investing, also check out NCRP’s Winter 2013-2014 edition of Responsive Philanthropy.)

The Minnesota Experience
Prior to Tuesday’s event, some Minnesota grantmakers completed an informal survey about their experiences related to mission investing. Highlights of the responses included:

  • Program-related investments (PRIs) as loans are a commonly used tool and are often directed to economic development for low-income neighborhoods and job creation.
  • Growth of mission investing is hampered by lack of staff expertise and capacity, as well as a dearth of effective and experienced investment and legal advisors who understand and embrace the concept.
  • Finding investments with a strong financial and social return and measuring results can be challenging.
  • Despite challenges, foundations are intentionally pursuing mission investing and even setting targets for percentage of invested assets.
  • Community foundations have a growing interest  in mission investing among donor advisors.

Also discussed during the “think tank” were increased opportunities to engage in mission investing outside of the nonprofit sphere, such as with social enterprises and for-profit businesses.

For instance, philanthropy could seed investments in green technology or otherwise put dollars behind ideas that will influence the marketplace for good.

Learn More
Several intermediaries and other organizations are already working in the mission-investing space in Minnesota, including Nonprofits Assistance Fund, Community Reinvestment Fund, MEDA, WomenVenture and others.

At the meeting, Peter Berliner and his colleagues from Seattle-based Mission Investors Exchange also offered their knowledge, expertise and connections. To meet local and national peers, grantmakers can sign up for the Mission Investors Exchange 2014 National Conference to be held in Minneapolis from May 13 to 15. (Early bird registration ends February 28!)

To connect with other Minnesota grantmakers who are pursuing mission-investing strategies, contact MCF at info@mcf.org.

As event organizers Brad Brown, former head of Social Venture Partners Minnesota, and Susan Hammel, executive director of the Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation, noted, mission investing is a lot less risky than perceived.  And a planned approach with full board engagement can really pay off – in social impact and financial rewards.

– Wendy Wehr, MCF vice president of communications and information services


Cargill Foundation Helping North Minneapolis’ Harvest Schools Scale Up

February 6, 2014
Eric Mahmoud, founder and president of the Harvest Network of Schools

Eric Mahmoud, founder and president of the Harvest Network of Schools

On Wednesday, the Cargill Foundation announced a $1.5 million, three-year grant to the Harvest Network of Schools to help close the achievement gap for low-income students and students of color in North Minneapolis.

The schools have a long history in North Minneapolis. Started by Ella Mahmoud in her home in 1985 for 10 children, today the schools educate 1,200 children in six programs and are led by Ella’s husband, Eric Mahmoud, president and CEO, Harvest Network of Schools.

Harvest Schools to Scale Up
The grant from the Cargill Foundation will help the Harvest network of charter schools scale up to meet its goal of having 3,500 students in Harvest classrooms by 2021. The number is significant. North Minneapolis has a total of 6,800 students in grades K-8, so the Harvest Network will be educating 51% of North Minneapolis’ students when it hits 3,500 students.

Scott Portnoy, Cargill corporate vice president and president of the Cargill Foundation

Scott Portnoy, Cargill corporate vice president and president of the Cargill Foundation

Scott Portnoy, president of the Cargill Foundation, explained that Cargill is a major and long-time funder of education in the metro area. He continued, “These schools have been very successful at closing the achievement gap. They are in the top 10 of the State of Minnesota’s ‘Beating the Odds‘ schools, and they are leaders in educating boys of color.”

Minneapolis Public Schools Partners with Harvest Schools
Dr. Bernadeia Johnson, superintendent of the Minneapolis Public Schools, doesn’t disagree. At Wednesday’s event she supported the Harvest Network of Schools, saying, “I want great schools for Minneapolis, irrespective if they are district or charter schools.” And she added that it wasn’t a particularly tough decision. “It was easier for me to decide to partner with Harvest Prep than to close the Minneapolis Public Schools for the recent cold weather.”

This is likely because the Harvest Schools set and enforce high standards. The schools’ website stresses rigorous academics and says, “No Gaps Here!”

Best of the Best
Eric Mahmoud reiterated that, saying, “We don’t want to be the best of the worst. We want to be among the best of the best.”

The schools are succeeding. He shared a slide that showed the math gap between white and black students in St. Paul Schools at 44% and in Wayzata Schools at 41%. The same chart showed African American boys at the Harvest Schools achieving at the same levels as white students in Edina and other high-performing school systems.

Darryl Cobb from the Charter School Growth Fund (CSGF), a nonprofit that invests philanthropic capital in the nation’s highest performing charter schools, also spoke at the event. He explained that the Harvest Network is currently undergoing the CSGF’s rigorous application process with hopes of being considered for CSGF investment.

Philanthropists who want to learn more about the Harvest schools should contact Karen Kelley-Ariwoola, chief officer of strategic alliances, Harvest Network of Schools, or watch the Minnesota Futures Award Video on the school’s home page.

- Susan Stehling, MCF communications associate


Minnesota Corporate Grantmaking Reaches Its Highest Level Yet

January 31, 2014

GiM_mediumLast October, MCF released its latest Giving in Minnesota, 2013 Edition,  the latest comprehensive analysis of the trends in giving by organized philanthropy in the Minnesota. This month, we’re taking a closer look at the report’s insights on corporate grantmaking.

Corporate community support can occur through several streams: corporate giving programs, endowed foundations, in-kind giving, volunteering, and any combination of these and other programs. For this research, we concentrate on actual cash giving through corporate giving programs and corporate foundations.

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Corporate grantmakers are an important part of the philanthropic scene in Minnesota. In 2011, corporate grantmakers represented just 9 percent of all grantmakers but gave 43 percent of all grant dollars. This trend – relatively few corporate grantmakers contributing a relatively large share of overall giving – has been consistent since MCF began conducting Giving in Minnesota research in 1976.

corp1

2011 marked the highest level of corporate grantmaking yet, and recovery from declines in previous years from the Great Recession. The total 2011 corporate grantmaking of $713 million was a 9 percent increase from 2010. The previous giving peak was in 2008, a total of $695 million.

Minnesota’s top corporate grantmakers in 2011 were:

  • Target Foundation and Corporation
  • General Mills Foundation and Corporation
  • Cargill Foundation and Cargill, Inc.
  • UnitedHealth Group and United Health Foundation
  • Medtronic Foundation and Corporation

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Corporate grantmaking in the sample broken out by subject area varied slightly from the whole sample of 100 of the top grantmakers in the state. Similar to the entire sample, corporate grantmakers gave the largest share of their grant dollars to Education, but the corporate share was larger, 39% compared to 28%.

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In contrast, corporate grantmaking in the sample broken out by geographies served was quite different from the whole sample. Corporations based in Minnesota often divide their grantmaking between headquarters communities and other regions of the country or world where their facilities and customers are located. 30% of corporate grantmaking served Minnesota, compared to 47% from the whole sample. 27% of corporate grantmaking served national areas, compared to only 13% by the whole sample.

Look for future posts digging into more giving trends by subject area, with Arts up next.

- Anne Graham, MCF research associate


Collaborative Approaches to Improve the Health of Native Children in Minnesota

January 23, 2014
NB3

The Notah Begay III Foundation, focused on improving Native American health, was one of the conveners of this convening.

On January 17, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation, Clearway Minnesota and Notah Begay III Foundation convened a group of funders to explore collaborative approaches to attaining health equity for Native children in Minnesota.

Representatives from the American Indian Cancer Foundation, the Minnesota Department of Health, Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, and Native Americans in Philanthropy also joined in this effort to identify current services, trends and gaps impacting the health of Native American children in Minnesota and brainstorm ways existing efforts could be woven together to strengthen the health outcomes for tribal communities.

Promising Strategies

While the discussions highlighted the health challenges facing Minnesota’s Native American communities including disproportionately high rates of obesity, diabetes, and cancer, promising strategies for eliminating these disparities were also brought forth, such as:

Also noteworthy is the National Initiative for Native Children, led by the Notah Begay III Foundation with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Through this initiative, the Notah Begay III Foundation will be making investments in Native American communities, including in Minnesota and Wisconsin, to expand efforts to prevent obesity and type 2 diabetes in children.

Effective Collaboration

After reviewing the landscape of health equity efforts in Minnesota’s tribal communities, the funders agreed upon the following strategies for moving this work forward collaboratively:

  • Increasing access to culturally grounded systems of care
  • Coordinating resources for efficiency and impact
  • Trailblazing innovative funding of health equity work
  • Authentically engaging nations toward tribally driven solutions
  • Identifying and celebrating the assets of Native communities

For more information about this funder roundtable discussion or the National Initiative for Native Children, contact Olivia Roanhorse at the Notah Begay III Foundation (olivia@nb3f.org or 505.867.0775).

- Tara Kumar, MCF member services manager


A Good Food Future: The Healthy Foods, Healthy Communities Funders Network

January 8, 2014

healthyfoodToday on the blog we feature Pam Bishop, entrepreneur senior program officer, Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation. She presented at the 2013 MCF Philanthropy Convening about one of MCF’s member networks, the Healthy Foods, Healthy Communities Funders Network. She tells us more about it here.

At the November 2013 MCF Philanthropy convening, representatives from the Healthy Foods, Healthy Communities (HFHC) Funders Network introduced the network during an interactive breakout session. Here is some of what was covered:

Who We Are
The Healthy Foods, Healthy Communities Funders Network is a group of Minnesota-based funders who make informed, coordinated and strategic investments to improve key facets of our food system. Our shared commitment to the vitality and prosperity of our state’s communities and resilience of our landscapes inspire us to work together.

What We Do
This diverse group of funders:

  • Shares information about promising programs, organizations, issues and research.
  • Coordinates funding among members to ensure resources are well-distributed across organizations and initiatives focused on food systems.
  • Increases overall funding available for food systems-related work.
  • Convenes meetings for Minnesota’s funding community on relevant issues of interest around food systems and philanthropy.

Priorities
Our joint agenda for learning and investment is based on the concept of collective impact. It emphasizes three strategic priorities:

  1. Facilitate Local Entrepreneurship across the food supply chain.
  2. Improve Access to Healthy Food to enhance wellness and health equity for all Minnesotans.
  3. Strengthen and sustain Farmland Access throughout the state.

For the next three years, these priorities will inform the content of HFHC-sponsored meetings for the broader funding community. They will also influence strategies to align and increase funding.

Each priority has a working group that meets regularly to plan network-wide learning opportunities and execute a successful strategy to coordinate and increase funding.

Get Involved
If you are a funder interested in these issues, here are some ways for you to get involved with the Healthy Foods, Healthy Communities Funders Network:

  • Join the HFHC listserv by contacting Tara Kumar, member services manager at MCF.
  • Attend the HFHC public meeting in early 2014. Watch for details — coming soon.
  • Join one of the HFHC working groups to collaborate with other funders on strategic alignment of funding on an issue you care about. Contact Tara if interested.

Members
HFHC Funders Network has members from agencies, organizations and institutions that fund efforts to address social, environmental, economic and human health dimensions of food and agriculture in Minnesota.

For example: family, community and corporate foundations; state agencies, such as the Minnesota Department of Health; academic institutions, such as the University of Minnesota; health organizations, such as UCare and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota; and hunger relief groups such as United Way.

Photo cc NatalieMaynor

The Future is Abundant

December 2, 2013
convening1

Grantmakers listening in at the MCF Philanthropy Convening

MCF President Trista Harris has long wanted to use the tools of futurists right now in the social sector. With that in mind, she presented “The Future Started Yesterday: So Now What?” at MCF’s 2013 Philanthropy Convening.

She opened with a viewing of a 2012 TED talk by Peter Diamandis, M.D., chairman and CEO of the XPRIZE Foundation. California-based XPRIZE Foundation’s mission is: Bring about radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity, and it offers large cash incentive prizes to inventors who can solve grand challenges

Diamandis’ talk, “Abundance is Our Future,” was based on his book, “Abundance – The Future is Better Than You Think” co-written with Steven Kotler. His TED talk opened with a barrage of news clips, and he explained that in our 24/7 world, we are bombarded with way too much information. Unable to absorb it all, and being human with a goal of survival, we are wired to sort the information and raise the bad news to the top.

“The media feeds us negative stories because that’s what we pay attention to,” he said. “It’s no wonder people are pessimistic and think the world is getting worse.”

“But perhaps the world isn’t getting worse,” Diamandis continued. “Perhaps in the next few decades, we have the capacity to create abundance.”

He defined abundance as creating a life of possibility, rather than a life of luxury. “It’s about taking that which was scarce and making it abundant,” he clarified. “Scarcity is contextual and technology is a resource-liberating force.”

Watch the full TED talk below, and stay tuned for a future blog post to read what Trista Harris thinks it means for the future of philanthropy!


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