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

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.

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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.”

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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 www.mcf.org/research/giving.


Businesses of All Sizes Support Minnesota Communities

August 16, 2013

gf_summer_trends_fig_cMCF’s Giving in Minnesota, 2012 Edition research showed 134 corporate foundations and formal giving programs in Minnesota in 2010 (the most recent year for which complete data are available).

Some of the names of giant retail or consumer goods companies – such as Target or General Mills – may be very familiar to you. But other large corporate grantmakers – such as business-to-business leader Pentair or agricultural stand-out CHS – may not be.

These and many other businesses of all sizes support our communities through charitable donations of money, products, services and volunteerism.

Don’t miss the data-rich article, Generous Corporate Support of Nonprofits, in the  the summer issue of Giving Forum on corporate philanthropy. There you’ll learn more about how and where local corporations give, what they support, and if their giving is up or down in recent years.

- Susan Stehling, MCF communications associate


Community Coalitions Fuel Early Childhood Initiatives

July 26, 2013

Local community coalitions are essential to strengthening the early care and education of young children. Today, MCF member Tim Penny, president and CEO of the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, describes the success of the statewide Minnesota Early Childhood Initiative.

MECI-color-logoTen years ago, Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) and the five other Initiative Foundations across our state created the Minnesota Early Childhood Initiative.

Investing in early childhood is a natural extension of our focus on economic development: Children will be our future employees, CEOs, volunteers and community leaders, so our support of their education is a smart investment with a significant return.

The goal of the Minnesota Early Childhood Initiative is to strengthen early care and education for young children and their families. It’s the most important investment communities can make for the future.

Sustained McKnight Support
The initiative was launched with a $3.2 million grant from The McKnight Foundation. Continuation grants from McKnight have sustained the work to ensure that every young child has the best possible start toward a healthy life of learning, achieving and succeeding.

Today, Early Childhood Initiative (ECI) coalitions exist within 90 local communities throughout Greater Minnesota. These teams of local citizens and organizations have more than 5,000 diverse members — from early care educators to business and civic leaders.

SMIF has 20 ECI communities across its 20-county region of southern Minnesota. Each community has its own plan for improving the lives of the youngest citizens through literacy efforts, mental health activities, kindergarten transition/readiness projects, and support for early childhood care providers. To increase awareness of the importance of early brain development, they have forged new partnerships with local schools, families, home visitors and providers.

Ready for Kindergarten and More
Over the past decade, SMIF has invested more than $1.3 million into these 20 communities, and the community return has been extensive: more children ready for kindergarten, increased collaboration and partnership among organizations, and a growth of community leadership.

Involving community members from all sectors isn’t always easy, but when communities successfully engage their members, great things happen.

For instance, the diverse coalition in Fairmont — including the Chamber of Commerce president, county commissioners, chief of police, medical center staff, early childhood professionals, public and private schools, social services and media — was named our 2012 Partner of the Year. The Fairmont ECI has completed numerous early childhood projects and continues to be a successful promoter of early childhood education in the community.

Fairmont and all of our ECI communities are united around making sure all their children have an opportunity to succeed. To learn more, contact us at the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation.


Focus on Data and Innovation — Hunger-Free Minnesota

July 23, 2013

Hunger_Free_logo_4Minnesota’s corporate givers — along with other grantmakers and nonprofits — have intensified their work on collaborations that promise real impact on tough social problems. Hunger-Free Minnesota is one such collaboration. Supporting statewide efforts, it seeks to make more meals available to more than 600,000 hungry Minnesotans by the end of 2014.

With a focus on data and innovation, the campaign has been a natural fit for corporate involvement.

In 2012, Hunger-Free Minnesota launched a very innovative and successful pilot to “rescue” 300 tons of sweet corn that would otherwise be left to rot in the fields. Here’s the quick version of how it happened.

After being asked by General Mills, Seneca Foods Corporation agreed to harvest the corn. After harvest, it was trucked to an under-utilized Cargill grain storage facility in Savage, Minnesota. There, with the assistance of volunteers from Cargill, the corn was packaged and loaded into refrigerated trucks owned by SUPERVALU. Drivers then delivered the sweet corn to Second Harvest Heartland and the Emergency Food Shelf Network for distribution throughout Minnesota utilizing the Feeding America network.

Sweet corn was delivered to every food bank in four states — Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota — and to multiple food banks in six additional states!

In the summer issue of Giving Forumonline and in your mailbox now read more about how Hunger-Free Minnesota, working together with it’s many corporate and nonprofit partners, is using initiatives like this to rescue agricultural surplus and keep packaged and prepared food out of landfills. Instead it’s helping to feed many hungry residents in our state and others.

- Susan Stehling, MCF communications associate



Honoring Innovation in Technology

November 8, 2012

Last week, the Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA) presented the 2012 Tekne Awards to honor those who play a significant role in discovering new technologies that educate and improve the lives and futures of people living in Minnesota and beyond.

An MCF member and a nonprofit changing the way Minnesota gives online were among the recipients:

Blandin Foundation (on behalf of the Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities Coalition) won the Innovative Collaboration of the Year Award.

Blandin Foundation aims to ensure that its rural Minnesota partner communities have access to broadband Internet capabilities.

The latest in a series of broadband projects led by Blandin Foundation, MIRC was built on the lessons learned and the success of its predecessor broadband-focused programming. It supports a broadband vision for Minnesota, developed by the project’s guiding strategy: to ensure a high quality of life and a globally competitive future for its citizens, businesses and communities.

MIRC partners are numerous and the impact the collaboration has had on broadband adoption is significant. In fact, the adoption rate is 29.8% faster in MIRC partner communities when compared to the rest of rural Minnesota.

GiveMN (an affiliate of Minnesota Philanthropy Partners) won the Technology Excellence in a Nonprofit Organization Award.

GiveMN aims to transform philanthropy in Minnesota by growing overall giving and moving more of it online.

Since its launch in 2009, GiveMN has helped raise $50 million, for over 6,600 non-profits. GiveMN’s new model for e-philanthropy, combined with its relationships with local partners, lends credibility to the organization’s mission. In addition, GiveMN provides training to help non-profits and individuals become more digitally savvy fundraisers.

GiveMN’s fourth annual Give to the Max Day is one week from today, on Thursday, November 15.

Congratulations to all fifteen of this year’s Tekne Award winners!

- Susan Stehling, MCF communications associate

Photo cc mrsdkrebs


Bush Foundation Announces Third Cohort of Fellows

October 25, 2012

MCF member Bush Foundation has named its third cohort of Bush Fellows for 2012. These ten new Fellows, joining 19 others named earlier this year, will strengthen their leadership skills by working on tough issues within their communities. They include:

  • Sunny Sinh Chanthanouvong, who will search for the root causes of civic disengagement within his Laotian-American community, and motivate them to engage and connect with local government.
  • Kristi Townshend, to ensure families with deaf children receive accurate information about the academic options available to them.
  • Kenya McKnight, to address connectivity issues within transit and regional systems, especially in regard to North Minneapolis.
  • Noreen Thomas, with the goal of  reviving the vacant licensed kitchen in Georgetown, Minnesota’s city hall as a community kitchen.

Visit the Bush Foundation’s website to see the 29 Fellows announced to date, and their fellowship plans. Congratulations to all of them on this unique opportunity to serve their communities!

If you’re an elected or public official, there’s still time to apply for this year’s final round, which closes November 20.


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