Twins, MLB Open All-Star Grant Initiative

April 16, 2014

480_fans_chooseWith the 2014 Major League Baseball All-Star Game coming to the Twin Cities, the Minnesota Twins and MLB announced they are creating the first “All-Star Fans Choose” grant initiative, which will award $500,000 to a nonprofit in the Upper Midwest for a capital project to benefit its community.

Nonprofits in Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and western Wisconsin may apply now through May 23.

Five finalists will be determined by a panel of judges consisting of representatives from MLB before the fans can vote for their favorite project from June 10 to July 10. The judges will determine the final five 501(c)(3) nonprofit projects based on these criteria:

  • Impact on community
  • Scope
  • Timeline,
  • Environmental improvement and sustainable design
  • Quality of application

The program is the first of its kind, and will be one of several community outreach projects leading up to the All-Star Game on July 15. In recent years, the Midsummer Classic has annually brought roughly $5 million to local charities.

“The All-Star Fans Choose grant initiative is one of the most unique community efforts that Major League Baseball has ever put in place for the Midsummer Classic,” Commissioner Bud Selig said. “This program will be an important element of our All-Star summer efforts and will help us leave a lasting legacy in the communities of the Twin Cities.”

Read more and access the application at the All-Star Fans Choose Grant Program webpage, and stay tuned for other projects to be announced in the coming months.

Good luck to those applying!


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


Nominate Grantmakers Making an Impact

February 13, 2014

NCRP-logo-color-with-tagline-2014The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy is on the lookout for grantmakers to honor with its 2014 NCRP Impact Awards, and wants to hear from you.

Which foundations do you think had the greatest impact and made positive, lasting change in 2013? NCRP is looking for grantmakers maximizing their philanthropy by:

  • Attacking the root causes of social problems
  • Empowering underserved communities
  • Helping improve the sector as a whole through public leadership

There will be one awardee in each of these four categories:

  • Large, Private Foundation (annual giving of $25 million or more)
  • Small/Mid-Sized Private Foundation (annual giving less than $25 million)
  • Corporate Foundation (any size)
  • Grantmaking Public Charity (any size)

Last year’s awardees included grantmakers from California, New York and Illinois. It’s time to get Minnesota on the map!

Nominations are due March 1. The awards reception will take place June 9 in Washington, D.C.

Nominate a worthy grantmaker today, and spread the word on Facebook and Twitter!


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


Resource-full Nonprofit Revenue Generation

February 3, 2014

resourcefullnesshomebannerToday on the blog we welcome Beth Bird and Kim Hunwardsen of Eide Bailly, to tell us about their organization’s Resourcefullness Award, and the ideas that sprang from it.

What do you get when you offer a $10,000 award for sustainable and creative revenue generation in the nonprofit industry? A flood of inspiring submissions!

Last year, Eide Bailly’s nonprofit services group did something different to encourage conversation and ingenuity around revenue generation – something our clients think about daily. We ended up with 99 submissions for the Eide Bailly Resourcefullness Award, three fantastic winners (video), and a host of creative and sustainable ideas to spark discussion. (Read this article on submission trends.)

Beyond celebrating the winning efforts, we wanted to use the Eide Bailly Resourcefullness Award as a springboard for sharing and collaboration.

The following highlights are from a January seminar that we held in Minneapolis to discuss the best ideas.

Future Trends
Susan Cornell-Wilkes and Brad Brown were judges for the Resourcefullness Award. In January, we asked about the nonprofit revenue generation trends they see gathering strength in the next five years.

- Crowd funding
- Nonprofits creating for-profit entities
- A focus on intergenerational wealth transfer

  • Organizations will be and should be looking for opportunities to involve multiple generations of one family in its endeavors. This will go a long way to creating present buy-in donor stability in the future.

- Moving beyond “Corporate” involvement in campaigns

  • Getting employees involved in the organization, rather than just accepting a corporate donation, will be the key to sustainability in funding from that organization and in growth of individual donors.

- Helping donors “experience” the difference their donations are making

  • Donors, especially younger donors, are looking to “purchase an experience.” They do not just want to hear from nonprofits in letters and email, but rather experience the effects of an organization work.

Our Take-Aways
The Resourcefullness Awards and our January speakers reminded us of two very important things:

  1. Organizations are getting more creative in their approach to revenue generation, but this does not mean an approach must be complex. Sometimes the simplest ideas create the best results.
  2. Well-placed and well-planned partnerships are some of the easiest and most fruitful ventures.

Give To The Max Day Strategies
We also heard from two organizations that employed creative Give to the Max strategies.

Erich Mische, executive director of Spare Key, described its media-grabbing, world-record setting 2012 strategy Pedal to the Max, which had volunteers on a pedal pub for 24 hours. The campaign helped Spare Key reach goals around having fun and grabbing attention while engaging donors, volunteers and partners. Mische said media coverage and social media played a huge role in broadening the reach of the organization’s message. And, Spare Key raised five times its original fundraising goal.

Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery’s development and communications director, Joel Bergstrom, shared its 2013 Give to the Max campaign, which used video and social media to draw attention and generate support. A donation of video production helped the organization create a powerful video that then led to media coverage. The organization used a Facebook contest to draw in visitors and donors, and advocates lobbied hard on social media for donations to Crisis Nursery. As a result, followers of the organization have increased and their messages receive greater exposure.


The Top Ten Posts of 2013

December 31, 2013

fw2013 was quite the year for us at MCF, with big changes internally plus lots of important conversations and movement in diversity, public policy and more. As it comes to a close, here’s a chance to see our most popular posts of 2013. Take a trip down memory lane, or see what you missed!

1. MCF Names Trista Harris as New President

The biggest news at MCF in 2013, as new leadership signaled our way forward in the years to come.

2. Five Things I Learned About Philanthropy at MCF

Stephanie Jacobs, former director of member services, shares what she took from her time here. “Philanthropy is at its best when foundations not only embrace their role as grantmakers, but also step into the field as conveners, facilitators, provocateurs and risk takers.”

3. Wanted: Your Million Dollar Idea to Make Saint Paul Great

The launch of 2013′s Minnesota Idea Open, ultimately won by Urban Oasis.

4. Charitable Giving Tax Deduction Challenged by Minnesota House

The House’s proposed charitable giving changes were opposed by MCF and many others in the nonprofit community.

5. How Do Foundation Program Officers Gauge Grant Impact?

Including a video to let you hear firsthand from Medica Foundation, Northwest Area Foundation and The McKnight Foundation.

6. A Twin Cities Identity Crisis?

An essay commissioned by The McKnight Foundation, titled “Mary Tyler Moore Doesn’t Live Here Anymore,” argued that Minneapolis and St. Paul have an image problem, in part from the moniker “Twin Cities.”

7. New Bush Foundation Programs Support Community Innovation

An announcement by the Bush Foundation kicked off these substantial new grant programs to reward those thinking differently on how to address community issues.

8. Techniques for Excellent Writing

Several great takeaways from an MCF program that are sure to improve your writing technique.

9. Minneapolis Develops New Index to Measure Creative Vitality of City

a new resource for policymakers, arts professionals, artists and community arts advocates designed to capture the impact of Minneapolis’s creative community.

10. Inventing and Innovating to Tackle Minnesota’s Racial Disparities

Minnesota Compass’s annual meeting in 2013 challenged attendees to think of new ways to address the large racial achievement gaps in Minnesota.

Join the conversation: What were your favorite Philanthropy Potluck posts of 2013?


Five Elected Officials Selected as Bush Fellows

December 18, 2013

Bush-AltLogo-ColorThe Bush Foundation has selected its final Bush Fellows for 2013 from an applicant pool open exclusively to elected and government officials in policymaking positions. These include:

  • Minneapolis City Council Member Elizabeth Glidden, who will work through a race-conscious lens to offer local elected leaders the skills, tools and competencies they need to tackle racism.
  • Representative Rena Moran of St. Paul, to implement a single early childhood education experience for all Minnesota children from pre-Kindergarten to third grade.
  • County Commissioner Jeanne Ennen of Donnelly, to create an organized mentor program that links trained community volunteers who’ve overcome struggles with families and children with common interests.
  • Senator Roger Reinert of Duluth, who will build a toolkit of core civic skills to use in engaging citizens who are now disconnected from their civic rights and responsibilities.
  • Senator Philip Murphy of Portland, ND, to encourage communities in his area to implement and continually improve their pre-Kindergarten education programs.

See all 31 Fellows selected this year and the plans they are working toward fulfilling.

Next year the announcement of Bush Fellows will look a bit different, with a single cohort announced in March 2014. Applications for the 2015 cohort will open in the summer. Visit the Bush Foundation’s website to learn more.

Congratulations to all of 2013′s cohort!


#GivingTuesday — Giving, Not Shopping, is the Spirit of the Season

November 26, 2013

gtIn America, the next week has, by my count, five named days. Most of them born of our “need” to shop.

Eat
On Thanksgiving, we’ll spend time with family, watch some football, express gratitude for our plenty and eat too much. (We may or may not acknowledge that Native Americans see the day differently than non-natives.)

Shop
Then on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, we’ll spend millions — much of it to buy stuff we don’t need.

Give
That’s why I find #GivingTuesday to be a refreshing change from the three days that proceed it. On #GivingTuesday, we’re asked to share some of our plenty with charitable organizations and nonprofits in our community and across the country. It is a new national fundraising day to remind us that giving — not shopping — is the true spirit of the holiday season.

I’ve just about finished up my 2013 charitable giving — doing much of it on Minnesota’s recent Give to the Max Day. But, that day had its technical difficulties, and maybe you didn’t get around to giving what you had planned. Or maybe you haven’t tried online giving at all. If that’s the case, I urge you to consider participating in #GivingTuesday.

Why #GivingTuesday?
Many Minnesota nonprofits with matching dollars left on the table from Give to the Max Day will make them available on #GivingTuesday. Matching gifts multiply the power of your contribution.

According to The Able Altruist, published by Software Advice, 22% of annual giving to nonprofits comes in on December 30 and 31, which makes nonprofit budgeting awfully difficult. This way you’ll get it done a few weeks before the end of the year.

It’s a well publicized national day of giving with $100,000 in prize grants to the top 50 participating nonprofits from across the country.

And, it’ll be fun — social media will be buzzing with the hashtag #GivingTuesday on Dec. 3.

- Susan Stehling, MCF communications associate


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