Make Your Nominations for the 2015 Facing Race Ambassador Award

October 30, 2014

stpf1Do you know someone working tirelessly to end racism? Nominate that person for the Facing Race Ambassador Award!

The Ambassador Award is an annual award made by The Saint Paul Foundation that celebrates and honors the leadership of individuals working toward racial equity.

In 2015, the foundation will name:

  • One award recipient for work focused in the East Metro (Dakota, Ramsey and Washington counties).
  • One award recipient for work focused anywhere in Minnesota.
  • Up to three honorable mentions for work focused anywhere in Minnesota.

Head to The Saint Paul Foundation’s website to access the Request for Nominations and online submission form. Nominations are due December 12.

The foundation is also hosting an informational webinar on November 18, where you can learn more about the nomination process. Register for that webinar online.


Learning and Teaching with Fire

October 21, 2014

AIHECYesterday we brought you a post from Kayla Yang-Best focused on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Today we have a post from Kyle Erickson of Blandin Foundation, who attended the same event and shares takeaways from the Tribal Colleges portion. Thank you Kyle!

Native Americans and African Americans have traveled a very different path through time and place in America. One area of shared experience for the two cultures is a history of governmental and societal policies and systems that have resulted in a largely inequitable educational experience for their young people.

Too often, these communities – and their aggregate educational outcomes – are viewed through the lens of an “achievement gap,” or some other well-intentioned but ultimately negative point of view. “Learning and Teaching with Fire: Lessons from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Tribal Colleges (TCUs)” provided a fresh perspective, sharing lessons of significant successes and best practices developed at these minority-serving institutions that can inform and improve education for students from any background.

Tribal College Movement Growing

According to Carrie Billy, director of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC), the Tribal College movement has grown from one institution in 1968 to 37 colleges and universities today, comprising 75 campuses that cover 80% of Indian Country and serve nearly 90,000 learners through academic and extension courses. Half of enrolled Native Americans attending college today are at a TCU. With help from these institutions, the number of Native Americans who have earned a post-secondary certificate, diploma or degree has increased almost 250% over the last 20 years.

The list of TCUs includes four in Minnesota, located on the Leech Lake, Red Lake, White Earth, and Fond du Lac reservations. Billy identified significant areas of achievement at TCUs in Minnesota and across the country including:

  • Place-based research that allows TCU students to learn while addressing local and regional problems ranging from diabetes treatment and prevention to aquifer management and alternative agriculture systems.
  • Degree programs that meet community needs, including nursing, teacher education, and indigenous language studies.
  • Creation of a comprehensive data reporting system (AIHEC AIMS) that ensures accountability to communities and funders, and provides a platform for continuous institutional improvement.

The best practices for student success outlined by Billy and other TCU panelists – proactive, “intrusive” academic advising; access to experiential learning and research opportunities with support from caring faculty; wraparound student support services; designation of a go-to staff or faculty person for each student – are a part of the comfortable, familial environment cultivated at TCUs to ease the transition to postsecondary academic and social life. This is especially crucial given the high percentage of tribal college students who are the first in their family to set foot on a college campus.

Overcoming the “High Risk” Label

Dr. Don Day, President of Leech Lake Tribal College, pointed out that these successes have been gained despite daunting challenges. Commonly identified barriers to postsecondary success include being a first-generation college student, coming from a low-income household, being part of a racial/ethnic minority group, receiving inadequate academic preparation in high school, and being a parent while attending college. Nearly all TCU students fall into one or more of the “high risk” categories, and it’s not uncommon for a student to fit all of them, yet these institutions and their students are finding a path to success.

The stories of growth and achievement despite long odds and inadequate funding caught the attention of many attendees including Sen. Patricia Torres-Ray, who called for a statewide conversation to learn more about how to better support the important role Minnesota’s tribal colleges play in our educational ecosystem. If Minnesota aims to take equity in education seriously, that conversation will be the starting point of a larger, deeper body of work that will benefit Native American and non-Native learners alike.

More material from the conference can be found on the Center for School Change website.


HBCUs Share Best Practices for Student Success

October 20, 2014

cscToday on the blog we welcome MCF member Kayla Yang-Best of Bush Foundation, who will share what she learned from a recent event about Tribal Colleges and Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Thank you, Kayla!

I had the great pleasure of attending a presentation and panel discussion on Historically Black Universities and Colleges this past week. The presentation was part a larger convening hosted by the Center for School Change on Learning and Teaching with Fire: Lessons from HBCUs and Tribal Colleges.” What an invigorating discussion – one well participated by community leaders and people from a wide range of organizations and sectors, including K12 and policymakers.

We heard many examples of students of color who are succeeding in postsecondary education. I’d like to focus on a couple examples from HBCUs that left an impression on me:

  • HBCUs retain and graduate low-income, academically under-prepared students at higher rates than non-HBCUs.
  • 40 percent of Black students with degrees in STEM graduated from an HBCU.

What accounts for this success? Dr. Brian Bridges of the United Negro College Fund, one of the speakers, attributed it to “a culture of experimentation” – where HBCUs are doing things differently and intentionally. He highlighted several practices, including:

  • High level of student/faculty engagement
  • Proactive advising
  • Promoting culture and a high level of self-identity and
  • Setting high expectations.

He concluded his talk by saying “these strategies can be adapted to all education levels and settings.”

At the core of these practices is connecting to culture, that in turn creates a high level of self-identity, belonging and relationship that the kids desperately need. A good illustration of that came from the audience, a young black man, who stood up and said that he has often been told his history starts with slavery. And that is a very negative foundation to identify with. In his words, “what about before slavery? There is more to me and who I am.”

I was really moved and energized coming out of that convening. Besides learning about the great results of the practices of HBCUs and Tribal Colleges, the convening presented a positive and asset-based narrative about kids of color and achievement, which we don’t hear enough about.

Thank you to the Center for School Change for the convening.


Fast Forward: Chris Cardona on Accessible Philanthropy

October 7, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 12.09.07 PMThe newest episode of MCF’s Fast Forward podcast featuring big thinkers in philanthropy is up!

In this episode, Alfonso Wenker sits down with Chris Cardona of TCC Group. They kick off their discussion with the three levels of accessible philanthropy Chris has seen grantmakers employ:

  1. Consult stakeholders about their decisions
  2. Integrate these communities into the decision-making process
  3. Get community involvement in the initial design process
Chris Cardona

Chris Cardona

The two go on to discuss the best entry point into this culture of accessibility, getting buy-in from leadership, and why equity and inclusion are such important concepts in discussions about diversity.

Listen to the podcast now! Then subscribe on iTunes or plug the RSS feed into the program of your choice.

Grantmakers, if you like what you hear, be sure to join us October 31 for Today’s Realities | Tomorrow’s Opportunities, MCF’s annual conference. Chris Cardona is one of the several prominent local and national speakers you’ll interact with throughout the day!


PFund Foundation Wins Responsive Philanthropy Award

September 11, 2014

pfund1The results of the 2014 Minnesota Nonprofit Awards are in, and the recipient of the award for Responsive Philanthropy goes to PFund Foundation.

MAP for Nonprofits and the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits chose to honor PFund for its QReach initiative:

In 2011, PFund convened grantees and partners across the Midwest to learn more about the needs of the communities they aim to serve. As a result of those conversations, PFund created QReach, a community network building and regional assessment project in partnership with LGBT organizations and leaders, donors, funders and allies. It is designed to address the needs identified by LGBT communities in Minnesota and the Upper Midwest, and at the same time increase the resources to those LGBT communities by both building up PFund and philanthropic giving to LGBT communities in Minnesota. Through its QReach initiative, PFund is providing an important and needed framework through programming, convenings, media tools and capturing learnings; helping to build a stronger GLBTA community that has a stronger presence to help those that have further to come.

Other 2014 Minnesota Nonprofit Award winners are:

  • 5% Campaign: Nonprofit Mission Award in Advocacy
  • CLIMB Theatre: Nonprofit Mission Award in Anti-Racism Initiative
  • Conflict Resolution Center: Nonprofit Mission Award in Innovation
  • CommonBond Communities: Nonprofit Excellence Award
  • YouthCARE: Nonprofit Excellence Award

Learn more about the winners by watching the video below, and see them honored in person at the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits annual conference in November. Congratulations to all six!


Meet the New Nexus Community Partners BCLI Cohort

September 8, 2014

nexusToday, MCF member Nexus Community Partners announced the second cohort of the Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute (BCLI). The 15 cohort members come from various communities in Minneapolis, St. Paul and the surrounding suburbs and bring a wealth of experience and knowledge working in community, nonprofits and the private sector.

The BCLI will train and place these dynamic individuals onto publicly appointed boards and commissions in the Twin Cities. The fellows will have the capacity and community support to advance a regional equity agenda and serve as the next generation of leaders who are representative of, and accountable to, the region’s communities of color and other underrepresented populations.

The fifteen new fellows are:

  • Antrinita Wright, Neighborhood Leadership Program (NLP), Amherst H. Wilder Foundation
  • Carla Kohler, Comunidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio (CLUES)
  • Chamath Perera, Asian Economic Development Association (AEDA)
  • David Martinez, Wells Fargo Community Development Department
  • David Milton, Mastery Charter Schools / Harvest Education Network
  • Donna Evans, BCLI Alum
  • Emilia Gonzalez Avalos, Navigate MN
  • Falmata Bedasso, Oromo Community of MN
  • Jamez Staples, Community Elder
  • Leila Paye-Baker, Department of Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity (HREEO), City of Saint Paul
  • Nasser Mussa, Oromo Community of MN
  • Sonya Lewis, AFSCME 3800
  • Suyapa Miranda, BCLI Alum
  • Tescil Mason Kimmons, BCLI Alum
  • Yolonde Adams-Lee, MN Department of Human Services

Learn more about the Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute on the Nexus Community Partners website, and meet this new cohort in person at the BCLI launch event on Thursday, October 9.


Learn About Becoming a Ron McKinley Philanthropy Fellow

July 28, 2014

Ron-McKinley-Philanthropy_FINAL_outlines_RGB-(2)MCF’s Ron McKinley Philanthropy Fellowship, which we opened applications for earlier this month, will prepare individuals from underrepresented communities for careers in philanthropy. But the fellowship is about more than changing the face of leadership in philanthropy; it’s about infusing new ideas and viewpoints into the field.

Are you interested in applying to be a Ron McKinley Philanthropy fellow? Do you have questions about the application process?

Join Alfonso Wenker, MCF director of diversity, equity and inclusion, for a short informational webinar about the process and the program on Thursday, August 7, at 3 p.m. Alfonso will provide a high-level overview of the program and take questions from participants.

And for a look at what the 2014 Philanthropy Fellows are up to, don’t miss MCF’s new issue of Giving Forum, online and in your mailbox now. We caught up with Venessa Fuentes and Dameun Strange and asked them about their responsibilities and how they’re helping effect positive community change. Read about their experiences, then join our webinar to see what the fellowship would mean for you!


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