Getting Minority Businesses Into the Stadium Game

March 4, 2014

4464678203_396bf92f19_nToday we welcome Teresa Morrow, vice president of external relations and marketing at The Minneapolis Foundation, to share how the foundation’s Working Capital Loan Fund, a $1.5 million Program Related Investment (PRI), is helping minority businesses get into the game of building the new Vikings stadium.

In late 2012, a Minnesota legislative appropriation and the investment of the Vikings football organization launched plans for a billion dollar sports facility in Minneapolis. Many supporters of the new stadium project heavily promoted the economic activity that would result from the construction of this new facility.

Access to Working Capital is Large Barrier
However, without intentional efforts to level the playing field in terms of access to financing, the stadium will not be the inclusive project that the Legislature envisioned. The goal of The Minneapolis Foundation’s Working Capital Loan Fund is to eliminate the single largest barrier to the inclusion of Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) contractors in this project: access to working capital.

Due to shorter business histories, narrower asset bases and limited access to conventional financing, the only sources of working capital for MBEs are expensive ones. Providing working capital at a more reasonable cost to these MBEs leverages the stadium’s benefit to the entire community by developing long term quality employers, new skills, and capacity—not only for the MBE but also for its employees.

The Working Capital Loan Fund
The Working Capital Loan Fund is a $1 million, 3-year Program Related Investment of The Minneapolis Foundation. The investment is a loan to Meda (Metropolitan Economic Development Association), which is an experienced Community Development Financial Institution. The fund takes a ‘reuse and recycle approach’ with 75% of the fund deployed at any given time. These funds are expected to revolve four times annually, providing up to $12 million in short-term loans to participating MBEs.

Enthusiastic Donor Response!
Donors to The Minneapolis Foundation were invited to participate in this PRI by investing a limited share of capital from their Donor Advised Funds, resulting in a loan pool of $500,000. The Minneapolis Foundation matched the Donor Advised Fund investments to create the $1 million PRI. The Foundation (and the Donor Advised Funds) will earn a modest annual return, and at the end of three years the principal will be returned by Meda.

The response on the part of donors was enthusiastic, with full funding provided in just a matter of weeks. While the support of donors has been gratifying, the interest by potential borrowers is equally satisfying. Small business owners are now receiving tools that will truly help them ‘get in the game!’

Related: For more on the topic, see Mission Investing Gaining Minnesota Momentum, a post by Wendy Wehr, MCF’s vice president of communications and information services.

Photo cc MoDOT

This post was updated with additional information from The Minneapolis Foundation clarifying its PRI.

President Obama Announces “My Brother’s Keeper” and Philanthropy Investment

February 28, 2014

obama9Boys and young men of color too often face disproportionate challenges and obstacles to success in our society.

Today in the U.S., if you are African-American, there’s a 50-50 chance that you’ll grow up without a father at home, and you’re more likely to be poor, to not read well, to be expelled from school and eventually to end up incarcerated.

And, as President Obama stressed yesterday, “The worst part is we’ve become numb to these statistics. We pretend this is a normal part of American life instead of the outrage that it is. These statistics should break our hearts and compel us to act.”

Act is what the President did Thursday as he signed a Presidential Memorandum establishing the “My Brother’s Keeper” Task Force, an interagency initiative to determine what public and private efforts are working for young men and boys of color and how to expand upon them.

The President has built a broad coalition of backers to help break down barriers, clear pathways to opportunity and reverse troubling trends that show too many boys and young men of color slipping through the cracks.

For yesterday’s announcement, he was joined by philanthropic leaders — including MCF President Trista Harris and David Nicholson, executive director of the Headwaters Foundation for Justice — and representatives from communities, business, government and faith groups.

Foundations have already made extensive investments in support of boys and young men of color. Building on that, yesterday 10 foundations (including MCF members The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and W.K. Kellogg Foundation) announced additional commitments of at least $200 million over the next five years to find and rapidly spread solutions that have the highest potential for positive impact in the lives of boys and young men of color.

Look for more next week on Trista Harris’ D.C. experience.

- Susan Stehling, MCF communications associate

Minnesota Grantmaking Up By Nearly 15%

October 15, 2013

GiM_mediumThe Minnesota Council on Foundations (MCF) today released its Giving in Minnesota, 2013 Edition research, the most comprehensive analysis of charitable giving in the state. The research shows that foundations and corporations granted $1.7 billion in 2011*, an increase of 14.7 percent over the prior year.

Total charitable giving by individuals, foundations and corporations in Minnesota reached $5.5 billion in 2011, a 3.4-percent rise from 2010. Individuals donated $3.8 billion, 70 percent of Minnesota’s overall charitable giving.


Grantmaking by Margaret A. Cargill Foundation Boosts Totals

“New giving by the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation accounted for much of the increase in foundation giving,” says Trista Harris, MCF president. “But even without that, Minnesota grantmaking rose 5 percent to an all-time high.”

Margaret A. Cargill Foundation grantmaking rose from $10 million in 2010 to $142 million in 2011. The unprecedented growth was due, in part, to the foundation paying out multi-year commitments to a large number of nonprofits, according to Sallie Gaines, Margaret A. Cargill spokesperson.

“A portion of the increase was due to this one-time satisfaction of multi-year pledges to about 475 grantees,” Gaines explains. Preliminary data show that Margaret A. Cargill Foundation grantmaking settled back to about $42 million in 2012.

Education Continues to Receive Largest Share of Grant Dollars

The one-time Margaret A. Cargill grantmaking dramatically boosted giving in six of eight subject areas in 2011, but overall subject area rankings did not change from the previous year.

Education continued to receive the largest share (28 percent), followed by human services (21 percent) and public affairs/society benefit (17 percent). Notes Harris, “Minnesota grantmakers are dedicated to supporting education, which is so critical at this time when our state is grappling with one of the largest racial achievement gaps in the nation.”


Half of Giving Stays in State

In 2011, 47 percent of Minnesota grantmaking dollars went to organizations and programs serving the state. A similar amount was distributed to groups serving other parts of the U.S., and 4 percent was given to support international causes.

“Seventy percent of corporate grant dollars went out of state, reflecting businesses’ goals of supporting their headquarters’ communities as well as other parts of the nation and world where they have facilities and customers,” explains Harris.

Corporate grantmaking is vital in Minnesota. In 2011, company foundations and giving programs comprised just 9 percent of the state’s 1,465 grantmakers, but they gave 43 percent of all grant dollars. By contrast, private foundations made up 85 percent of Minnesota’s grantmakers and gave 42 percent of all 2011 grant dollars. Community and public foundations accounted for the remaining 15 percent of giving.

*The 2011 research year, the most recent time period for which complete data are available, includes financial information from foundations and corporate giving programs with fiscal years ending between June 1, 2011, and May 31, 2012.

Additional Data Available
MCF determines trends in giving by subject area and geographies served by analyzing grants of $2,000 or more made by a sample of 100 of Minnesota’s largest grantmakers. In 2011, MCF coded 27,575 grants totaling $1.16 billion or about two-thirds of the state’s total philanthropic giving for the year.

A PDF summary of the Giving in Minnesota, 2013 Edition report is here. For additional details on subject areas, geographies, beneficiaries, type of support and long-term trends in the state’s charitable giving, view a PDF of the full Giving in Minnesota, 2013 Edition report. You’ll find it all at

Who Will Companies Hire in 2018?

October 8, 2013


Today on the blog we welcome Frank Forsberg, senior vice president of systems change and innovation at Greater Twin Cities United Way. He shares with us the importance of addressing the skills gap in Minnesota, and an upcoming forum hosted by United Way to help attendees do just that.

By 2018, some 70 percent of jobs in Minnesota will require training beyond the level of a high school diploma. But today, only 40 percent of Minnesota workers have such training. This is referred to as the skills gap.

Dropping unemployment rates. Retiring Boomers. The lack of needed skills by employers versus the pool of available trained workers. It has all of the ingredients to form a perfect storm fueled by a growing sense of urgency by educators, employers, students, workers and others. Which leads to the question, who will companies hire in 2018?

It’s essential that we, as leaders in the region, take steps to address these challenges. The career pathways model, a method of constructing basic and technical skills for high-demand industries and occupations, is an approach that Greater Twin Cities United Way – in partnership with the state, nonprofits and other organizations – is utilizing to aid low-income, low-skilled adults in obtaining family-sustaining employment and careers.

As part of that effort, United Way is joining forces with CLASP (Center for Law and Social Policy) to host the November 7 Strengthening Your Career Pathways Systems: Tools, Tips and Tactics – a forum for business, community, education and government leaders and practitioners. In other words, this forum is for every leader who believes in the future and has a stake in our region.

The career pathways system methodology is the new frontier. It’s a concept of improving regional economies and individual economic mobility and is gaining momentum nationally. The diverse representation of forum participants – from the U.S. Department of Labor, the National Governors Association, Minnesota’s Department of Employment and Economic Development, along with institutions of higher learning from several states – is in itself an illustration of cross-sector involvement.

Search the web and you’ll find numerous articles and white papers referring to the “jobs gap” versus “skills gap” debate. Which is it? We believe, based upon supporting data, in the assertion of the skills gap – and unless we in Minnesota take action, it will stay with us through 2018. Evidence shows that students who earn less than a year’s worth of credits and no credential tend to receive negligible economic benefits. Minnesota is home to 1.2 million potential working learners – individuals that lack post-secondary credentials who are wage-earners for themselves or their family – who comprise 60 percent of Minnesota adults ages 18 to 64.

Attend the forum and lend your voice to the conversation as we explore strategies to scale, strengthen and sustain current career pathway innovations. And leave the conference equipped with the resources needed to advance and implement the strategies within your business environment. Partners and leaders in workforce development, ABE (Adult Basic Education) and higher education; uniting to ensure a prepared and skilled workforce for 2018 with efficient and effective career pathways systems.

To register and complete details for Strengthening Your Career Pathways Systems, learn more about the subject, view videos of successful programs, read industry experts’ blog postings, or join in the online discussion, visit

Feeling Insecure? Where’s Your Next Meal Coming From?

September 5, 2013

fork_spoonNo one likes to feel insecure. Given a choice, most of us would pick confidence and certainty over apprehension and doubt. That’s true whether we’re fretting over having a bad hair day or anxious about…where our family’s next meal is coming from.

Yes, bad hair days are meaningless compared to worrying about feeding your kids.

Food Insecurity Over 10 Percent
Yesterday’s release by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) of its latest food security report has created a flurry of discussion about hunger — the severity of the problem, the causes, and the solutions. Particularly contentious are the current debates about the federal food stamp program, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). (For example, read yesterday’s New York Times article, see today’s blog from the Minnesota Budget Project, or check out this segment from Moyers & Company.)

According to the USDA, 10.6 percent of Minnesota households were food insecure in 2012. That means that they lacked access to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members.

Grantmaking to Alleviate Hunger
So what are Minnesota’s philanthropists doing to address food insecurity in our state? Here’s a quick snapshot:

Hunger Intertwined with Poverty
Of course, lack of adequate, nutritious food is just one of the innumerable burdens of poverty — a much more immense issue that a host of other MCF members are striving to alleviate.  (See MCF’s Giving Forum edition on the interconnected causes of poverty.)

Minnesotans worried about food are just as insecure about their next paycheck, their next doctor’s visit, their utility bills, their day care costs…the list goes on. So, the next time you’re worried about a bad hair day, think again.  Your neighbor may have a much more serious worry.

- Wendy Wehr, vice president of communications and information services.

Image CC Francis Bourgouin


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