MCF Seeks Program Assistant

April 17, 2014

helpMCF is hiring again! Our Program Strategy team seeks a dynamic and motivated individual to fill a new position.

In this highly visible and fast-paced role, the Program Assistant:

  • Serves as the first point of contact for many of MCF’s committees, networks and task forces by preparing correspondence, arranging conference calls, scheduling meetings, creating and disseminating minutes.
  • Takes initiative in providing timely and effective administrative support to the Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Director of Member Services and the Director of Public Policy and Government Relations.
  • Supports MCF’s program operations, including database and technological support.
  • Prioritizes and manage multiple projects simultaneously, and follows through on issues in a timely manner to ensure program directors achieve strategic goals.
  • Provides strategic insight during development of Council programs and activities to eliminate duplication of efforts and ensure quality program delivery.

Selection criteria for this position include:

  • Outstanding verbal and written skills on the phone, in email and in person.
  • Warm and welcoming presence; commitment to hospitality and customer service.
  • Strategic, critical thinker with an insatiable curiosity about finding creative solutions.
  • Attention to detail and accuracy.

And required experience includes:

  • High school diploma or GED equivalent and a minimum of five years of administrative assistant experience, including executive assistant level responsibilities, direct customer service support and reception or a two-year degree in administrative assistance and two years of experience.
  • Well-developed verbal and written communication skills.
  • Tech savvy with proficiency with current office technology
  • Experience managing event logistics.
  • Experience managing committees.
  • Previous nonprofit, philanthropic or membership association work experience.

See the full job description on our website, and help us spread the word! Applications are due May 9.

Photo cc Matt Wetzler

Inspiration, Renewed Commitments at the Ambassador Awards

April 10, 2014
The Saint Paul Foundation's Carleen Rhodes with this year's Ambassador Awards honorees.

Minnesota Philanthropy Partners’ Carleen Rhodes with this year’s Ambassador Awards honorees.

On April 7, The Saint Paul Foundation held its annual Facing Race Ambassador Awards. The purpose of this event is to honor “…individuals working to build communities where everyone feels safe, valued and respected.”

This year, over 500 people came out to celebrate and honor this work. It was fantastic to see such a multi-generational crowd. Attendees included youth, elected officials, and those from the nonprofit, philanthropic, education, business, and government sectors.

Carleen Rhodes and Rowzat Shipchandler opened the event with an overview of Minnesota Philanthropy Partners’ renewed commitment to racial equity including the racial equity framework. This framework will promote racial equity through the various roles of the foundation: as community participants, economic entities, funders, employers, fundraisers, and leaders.

People were nominated from all across the state. This year, there were two Ambassador Award recipients, Jada Sherrie Mitchell and Justin Terrell, and three Honorable Mention recipients, Jennifer Godinez, Bukata Hayes and Dr. Cecilia Martinez. The Ambassador Award winners each received a $10,000 grant and the Honorable Mention winners each received a $1,000 grant that they may present to the nonprofit of their choice.

Award winning local photographer, Wing Young Huie, was the keynote speaker. He asked questions such as “How much does society shape ideas of who we are,” “Who gets to say who is a Minnesotan,” “When are we different and when are we the same,” and “Are we aware of our subconscious assumptions?” He demonstrated the power of the media across space and time, showing how some reactions to one photo were strongly influenced by images and assumptions from the Vietnam War many decades earlier.

It was a wonderful night of greeting old friends and meeting new ones, building the beloved community, and renewing personal commitments to advance this work.

- Jennifer Pennington, MCF member services fellow


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


Putting “My Brother’s Keeper” to Work in Minnesota

March 27, 2014
mbk

Attendees watched clips from President Obama’s speech and heard from those who were there.

On March 25, MCF convened a group of Minnesota foundations and elected officials to provide information on President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative and identify next steps for how Minnesota can coordinate efforts.

My Brother’s Keeper is aimed at helping boys and young men of color by addressing the disproportionate ways they are at risk. Read more about it on this February 28 MCF blog post.

Trista Harris, president of MCF, David Nicholson, executive director of Headwaters Foundation for Justice, and Chris Coleman, mayor of St. Paul, were all guests of the White House when Obama formally announced My Brother’s Keeper Initiative, and they each provided a recap of the event and the urgency and importance of engaging in this work. Mayor Coleman said, “This is the most important work that any of us in this room will ever do.”

David Nicholson stressed that this should be a cross-sector, bottom-up movement. Community solutions that demonstrate positive outcomes should be valued, invested in, and scaled up.

Trista Harris spoke about coordinating efforts, identifying local programs that work and investing in them to scale up, and the importance of public policy to address comprehensive systems change.

Mayor Coleman gave examples of how cities can change their policies and procedures so that low-income neighborhoods are not adversely impacted. For example, St. Paul Public Works would change street light bulbs on a complaint basis. However, not everyone knows who to call to get a street light fixed, and sometimes street lights weren’t getting fixed for two years. The city changed its policy so that light bulbs are changed every two years, approximately the life of a street light bulb. There are numerous ways that government can review policies and procedures to ensure there is equity across government services.

Alfonso Wenker, MCF’s director of diversity, equity and inclusion, facilitated World Cafe discussions about what next steps to take. Participants completed pledge forms on how to support efforts.

MCF will provide ongoing information on the federal effort and the opportunities to connect with it. As Trista Harris said, “We have a lot of great local programs that work, and if we coordinate efforts, we can make a big impact. We’re always so much smarter together.”

- Jennifer Pennington and Tiffany Wilson-Worsley, MCF Fellows


Meet the 2014 Facing Race Ambassador Award Winners

March 25, 2014

raceThe Saint Paul Foundation will honor five anti-­racism advocates at the eighth annual Facing Race Ambassador Awards on April 7. The Facing Race Ambassador Awards program was created in 2007 to recognize anti-­racism leaders and promote the need for productive community-­wide conversations about race.

“Reducing racial disparities is one of the critical challenges facing Minnesota,” says Carleen Rhodes, president and CEO of The Saint Paul Foundation. “We are committed to this cause and honored to celebrate the hard work and dedication of individuals fighting for racial equity.”

This year’s celebration will honor two racial justice advocates with Ambassador Awards:

  • Justin Terrell, Justice 4 All program manager for TakeAction Minnesota, and
  • Jada Sherrie Mitchell, a Tartan High School senior and community youth leadership council member in Oakdale.

Mitchell is the youngest individual to receive an Ambassador Award.

“Jada and Justin have demonstrated tremendous leadership in addressing disparities in education and employment,” says Rhodes. “We are honored to recognize the accomplishments of these courageous community leaders.”

Three additional individuals will receive honorable mention recognition for their efforts to end racial disparities in Minnesota:

  • Jennifer Godinez, Minnesota Minority Education Partnership
  • Bukata Hayes, Greater Mankato Diversity Council
  • Dr. Cecilia Martinez, Center for Earth, Energy and Democracy

There’s still time to register to attend the event! Tickets are free; RSVPs are required by March 28. The awards celebration also features a keynote address by photographer Wing Young Huie whose award winning work has included “The University Avenue Project” and “Looking for Asian America”.

For all the details on the celebration, visit The Saint Paul Foundation’s website.

Congratulations to the honorees!


Reflecting on a Renewed Commitment to Racial Equity

March 18, 2014

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge the Racial Equity Framework

The Saint Paul Foundation and Minnesota Community Foundation, both MCF Members and affiliates of Minnesota Philanthropy Partners, hosted a breakfast earlier this month to announce their newly-developed racial equity framework.

A room full of guests listened as MN Partners CEO Carleen Rhodes and Amherst H. Wilder President May Kao Y. Hang shared findings from “Facing Race: A Renewed Commitment to Racial Equity.” The 30-page report serves as a call to action for leaders at both foundations, and stems from their longstanding commitment to fostering racial equity. The hope is that other foundations throughout Minnesota will use this as a tool in their own efforts to create a more equitable philanthropic sector.

In 2012 The Saint Paul Foundation and Minnesota Community Foundation commissioned a taskforce; they drove the process that identified five different roles the foundations held in the community. With leadership placed in the framework’s center, the roles now include: Community Participants, Economic Entities, Funders, Employers, and Fundraisers. The roles are based on a corresponding set of expectations that the task force recommends board and staff use as an accountability guide. Here’s a deeper look into what each role looks like:

·         Community Participants: As Minnesota becomes more racially diverse, foundations owe it to themselves to host convenings that encourage open dialogue; take the time to meaningfully build connections with communities of color; and learn the ways in which racism impacts the communities they serve.

·         Economic Entities: This role recognizes how racial justice and economic justice are linked. It challenges foundations to do more than just hire a racially diverse staff by encouraging mindfulness around choosing vendors and investment firms.

·         Funders: Setting guidelines, developing programs, and supporting affiliate grantmakers in their best practices around incorporating a racial equality lens will help foundations to better reflect the diverse communities they serve.

·         Employers: Taking a look at internal systems, foundations should ask themselves “Are we intentionally recruiting, hiring, retaining, and advancing employees of color?” “How are we creating a workplace culture that values everyone’s contributions?” “Do our stakeholders and communities know about our commitment to eliminating institutional racism?”

·         Fundraisers: Community foundations have a unique role as fundraisers. A commitment to racial equity not only plays a key role in nurturing relationships with current donors; but it also is instrumental in cultivating new relationships with a more racially diverse, culturally competent generation of donors.

What is most encouraging about this new framework is how it holds leadership accountable to walking an influential walk – and talking a correspondingly influential talk. As members of the local philanthropic community, we have to examine our privilege, realize how we are a part of current challenges, and get ready to step beyond what’s comfortable in order to advance. This will require courage, honesty, and openness. It will also require foundations to invite feedback and insight from diverse communities to really take root.

This should be a proud day for MCF, whose groundbreaking Diversity and Inclusion Action Kit helped shape Facing Race.

- Venessa Fuentes, MCF Philanthropy Fellow


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



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