Advance Early Childhood Nutrition with the Cargill Foundation

September 30, 2014

CargillLogoAre you involved with an organization that seeks to improve early childhood nutrition in the Twin Cities metro area?

The Cargill Foundation is accepting applications for one-time planning grants of up to $25,000 and one-time implementation grants of up to $100,000 for programs that advance early childhood nutrition through parent engagement, staff training initiatives, nutrition curricula, and increasing the availability of low-cost, nutritious food.

Last year, the Cargill Foundation awarded more than $1.5 million in the form of 17 grants to various organizations. The planning grants are an excellent way to explore new and innovative ideas in tackling the issue of early childhood nutrition. The implementation grants will go to support thoroughly planned programs that are ready to make the leap and impact local communities.

Proposals of interest should include one of the two priorities: developing or delivering hands-on nutrition education programs, and retaining or increasing participation among childcare providers in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). Check out the Cargill Foundation grant guidelines for full details.

Programs in Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott and Washington counties are eligible. The application window is open from Oct. 1 to Nov. 14.


Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation Announces Community Health Spirit Award

July 11, 2014

FINAL_DD_Logo_bk_w_tagDelta Dental of Minnesota Foundation has launched a leadership award in honor of Ann K. Johnson, former Executive Director of Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation, and Community Affairs Director of Delta Dental of Minnesota. Ann dedicated her career to uplifting the lives of others and encouraging those around her to use their talents towards improved oral health for all Minnesotans.

The Ann K. Johnson Minnesota Community Health Spirit Award will be given to an individual in special recognition of their contributions to improving oral and/or overall health in Minnesota, and to celebrate their visionary leadership.

An award of $2,500 will be presented to honor the recipient for his or her spirited leadership in oral and/or overall health on behalf of underserved communities. Prospective nominees will be considered based on Ann’s leadership qualities:

  • Inspiring and bringing together people to achieve oral health and/or overall health goals
  • Leading by example through a lifelong commitment and dedication to communities
  • Seeking continual growth through listening, learning, and practicing creative leadership
  • Achieving significant accomplishments for community health, especially oral health
  • Promoting a positive work experience – working with a smile in all that is done, and having fun in the work you do
  • Helping others shine and rise to their full potential

Candidates must be nominated by an organization or by an individual with whom they are personally or professionally affiliated. All candidates must have a nomination package submitted by July 31.

Visit the online nomination form to learn more about the award and the process. Good luck to those being nominated!


Funders Seek Common Ground for Better Food for All

March 28, 2014

5547966268_4e1d1caf65_mToday on the blog we welcome, Kristine Igo, associate director for the Healthy Foods, Healthy Lives Institute at the University of Minnesota and a core group member of MCF’s Healthy Foods, Healthy Communities Funders Network. She tells us about what the network is up to, and invites other funders to its upcoming gathering.

The conversation about local, regional, national and global food systems is growing, and taking place in small communities and urban centers, research and health institutions, big business and local markets.

Nowhere is this more evident than within the philanthropic community, where grantmakers across the country and here in Minnesota are coming together to create alliances and partnerships to support a fair and healthy food future. Philanthropy has long cared about issues of hunger. Today, with the increased commitment to having an impact, that caring has logically moved to broader and more systemic and strategic approaches that require cross-sector collaboration.

It’s amazing how many of the issues funders care about can be connected back to some aspect of the food system. Educational outcomes? Poor nutrition impacts learning ability and concentration. Renewable energy? Small and mid-size farmers are first adopters to renewable energy opportunities including wind and solar to offset farm costs and increase revenues. Community and economic development? Entrepreneurship and small business opportunities abound in urban and rural landscapes as new food businesses and infrastructure are developed to fill the gap between suppliers and consumers.

The Healthy Foods, Healthy Communities Funders Network has sought engagement with grantmaking partners from across the state to work together to improve the health of our environment and reduce economic and health disparities. Similarly, grantmaker networks in other regions have taken up the issue and are bringing food-related issues to a broader spotlight in the field.

The Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers has started a wonderful series on their blog “THE ‘almost’ DAILY WRAG” called “What Funders Need to Know: The Food System”. They will be periodically highlighting various aspects of the food system and sharing examples of work being done and opportunities for funder investment. One wonderful resource they’ve produced so far is this issue brief that summarizes some of what’s been learned through the work of the Washington Regional Convergence Partnership, a project of WRAG.

It’s been exciting to work together with other funders to build a shared agenda around improving our food system, and gratifying to see large and small, private and corporate, state and local government, and other public agencies and institutions engage in critical conversations around developing innovative funding solutions to food system challenges. We have big plans and hope every interested funder will find some common ground with us. To explore what impact your funding organization could have, join us on April 7, 2014 from 10 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. for the MCF Healthy Foods, Healthy Communities Funders Network Convening at Northwest Area Foundation.

P.S. Of course the food will be good food!

Photo cc justanotherhuman


Achieving Health Equity in Minnesota

March 6, 2014

stethMinnesotans are engaging in new conversations about health equity. The Minnesota Department of Health issued the report Advancing Health Equity in Minnesota to engage citizens in critical thought around the pervasive inequitable public health disparities in our state.

The report provides a foundation for organizations and communities to collectively engage in conversation and create a context for change.

Advancing health equity aligns with MCF’s goal of promoting prosperity, inclusion, and equity by eliminating barriers for people of color in Minnesota. The MCF Government Relations and Public Policy Committee started the conversation about health equity recently with Jeanne Ayers, Assistant Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Mental Health.

Highlights from her health equity presentation:

  • The Advancing Health Equity in Minnesota Report suggests policy is directly connected to health equity and disparities. The report is a tool to engage in continuous dialogue about health inequality and allow for organizations and communities to organize a narrative for collective investment.
  • An array of health inequities persistently affects African American, American Indian, LGBTQ, and Hispanic/Latino families. Health inequities are neither random nor unpredictable.
  • Race and structural racism contribute to heath inequalities. Structural racism is defined as an array of dynamics that routinely advantage white people while producing cumulative and chronic adverse outcomes for people of color and American Indians.
  • Environment and social systems impact health and create necessary lifestyle approaches. Social, cultural and economic conditions equate to health conditions — positive or negative.
  • Summative data on disparities suggest the need to: identify policy processes and systems needing change; lift up best practices; and obtain data to document, monitor, and evaluate progress.
  • Moving beyond structural racism to achieve health equity is a challenge yet possible with collective organization and impact strategy.

MCF will continue to engage in dialogue about health equity to promote community health and to build it into the work of community members. In addition, MCF will be looking at this issue as a potential focus for future public policy advocacy.

We encourage grantmakers and community members to read the report Advancing Health Equity in Minnesota to understand the current conditions of health inequality in Minnesota and to identify a role to alleviate this disparity.

Visit MCF’s Public Policy web page to learn more about how to get involved with MCF’s public policy advocacy activities.

- Tiffany Wilson-Worsley, MCF fellow, government relations and public policy

Photo cc osseous


“Finish Strong” Funders Coalition Supports Older Adults

February 21, 2014

Spending several days with my home-bound elderly mother this week has given me new perspectives on the “graying of America.”

Let’s just say that I’m not looking forward to losing my driver’s license, walking with a cane and having difficulty cutting an apple or reaching up to my kitchen cupboards.

Of course, thousands of baby boomers in Minnesota feel the same way, and many more will face far greater challenges. And that’s one reason the philanthropic community is paying attention to the great “age wave.”

According to the Minnesota Department of Human Services, the number of Minnesotans ages 65 and up will nearly double between now and 2035, while other age groups will grow on average only six percent. (Learn more about our state’s changing demographics at Minnesota Compass.)

Funders for Aging Services
A statewide network of grantmakers affiliated with the Minnesota Council on Foundations (MCF) has just announced a new name for their group:  the Finish Strong Funders Coalition for Aging Services.  (Yes, they’re working at the other end of the age spectrum from the Start Early Funders Coalition.)

The network describes itself as “a wide array of public and private funders dedicated to funding services that support older adults in the community as important contributors, assets, and resources.”

Like several of MCF’s member networks, this group understands the importance of private and community foundations, corporate givers and government entities working together to face society’s challenges. And aging is a big challenge that’s closing in fast on all of us.

Resources on Aging
If you’re a grantmaker, a nonprofit aging services provider, elder or caregiver who wants to learn more about the impact of aging in our communities, here are just a few links to get you started:

And if you’re a grantmaker interested in learning more about Minnesota’s Finish Strong Funders Coalition, contact Tara Kumar, MCF member services manager, at tkumar@mcf.org.

By dedicating resources and coming together in formal and informal networks such as these, I have a growing confidence that we’ll transform our communities in ways in which we can live and age well. Then we’ll all have rides when we can no longer drive, as well as a helping hand in the kitchen.

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


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



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