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

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

Insights on Diversity and Racial Equity from Sterling Speirn #MCFengage

November 14, 2013

Screen shot 2013-11-14 at 10.34.51 AMThis morning kicked off Pause! Shift! Engage!, MCF’s 2013 Philanthropy Convening. The hundreds of grantmakers and partners in attendance just heard from Sterling Speirn, president and CEO of W.K. Kellogg Foundation, who shared insights on the foundation’s journey toward integrating greater racial equity in its work, and how others can do the same.

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Buy-in at All Levels

Speirn shared that when  he started as president and CEO in 2006, staff had recently gone through an intensive anti-racism workshop. The workshop had a clear impact but some mixed results, as many staff felt unsure where the foundation’s leadership and board stood on issues of diversity.

Speirn addressed this by asking the board of trustees to undertake this same workshop, turning it into a shared experience between board and staff.

When he later asked the trustees what they wanted to tell staff about this work, their direction was clear: “Tell the staff to be the most effective anti-racism organization it can be.” This provided the clear mandate needed for the foundation to promote racial equity and dismantle institutional racism in all its work.

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Looking Within

Another key insight from Speirn: For a foundation, it’s easier to create a new grantmaking program and ask grantees to adhere to a vision of racial equity than to look inside and ask how the foundation can make itself an inclusive environment. However, grantees and other partners were looking to the foundation to lead by example, so internal practices had to be addressed head-on.

Through tools such as the Intercultural Development Inventory, workshops led by White Men as Full Diversity Partners (again a shared experience with both board and staff), and a peer action learning network created by the Council of Michigan Foundations, W.K. Kellogg Foundation made significant progress on aligning all its work around a shared vision of diversity.

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Full Transparency

A significant step from W.K. Kellogg Foundation in demonstrating its commitment to diversity and equity was to publish the demographics of its staff and board on its website every year. This includes not just overall demographics: they are also broken down by different positions, such as board, executive leadership, program officers, etc., to give the public a fuller picture.

Through these reports, the public could see that the foundation staff moved from being comprised of 21% people of color in 2002, to 40% in 2012.

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From Counting People to Making People Count

Speirn also emphasized that counting people was only the first step on the journey. It’s important not to just have diverse people at the table, but that they also have a real voice instead of being expected to conform to an organization’s monoculture. At the final stage, these voices fully matter and contribute to better outcomes.

Speirn closed by sharing his pride that after many years of service to the foundation as a staff member, La June Montgomery Tabron will become W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s first African-American president and CEO starting in 2014.

Stay Tuned!

Look for more from the convening to come soon on this blog, and follow #MCFengage on Twitter for live updates!

Nominate Now for the Facing Race Ambassador Award

October 22, 2013

facingraceDo you know people working tirelessly to end racism? Nominate them for the Facing Race Ambassador Award!

The Facing Race Ambassador Award is an annual award made by MCF member The Saint Paul Foundation. It celebrates and honors the leadership of individuals working toward racial equity. The award is part of the Facing Race We’re All In This Together anti-racism initiative, which seeks to create a community in which everyone feels safe, valued and respected.

In 2014, the Foundation will name:

  • One award recipient for work focused in the East Metro (Dakota, Ramsey and Washington counties)
  • One award recipient for work focused anywhere in Minnesota
  • Up to three honorable mentions for work focused anywhere in Minnesota

Award recipients may direct a cash award of $10,000 to a nonprofit or public entity to further racial equity.

The nomination deadline is December 11, 2013. The honorees will be celebrated at an event on the evening of April 7, 2014 in St. Paul.

Learn more and make your nomination today!

Apply Now to Increase Diversity in Philanthropy

October 16, 2013

helpA big part of MCF’s strategic plan is to galvanize diverse voices and perspectives to advance equity in the field of philanthropy. To that end, we’re pleased to announce some new positions!

We’re seeking a new Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The successful candidate will increase MCF’s expertise and capacity to develop and implement diversity, inclusion and equity strategies. Essential accountabilities of this position include:

  • Be a thought leader, ambassador and advocate on diversity, inclusion and equity issues
  • Work collaboratively with MCF staff and members to incorporate diversity, inclusion and equity goals into their everyday work
  • Develop innovative curriculum for new foundation staff
  • Actively engage in member services, membership recruitment and member retention

See the full job description on our website.

We’re also excited to announce a new partnership with the Bush Foundation to create the MCF Philanthropy Fellowship program. In 2014 three fellows will be employed by MCF and placed at the Bush Foundation for three years to work with its Community Innovation or Education teams.

Through this fellowship program, MCF and the Bush Foundation look to infuse new ideas and viewpoints into the work of philanthropy. We seek high-potential leaders who will push themselves and the Bush Foundation to think bigger and think differently.

Fellow candidates should have at least five years professional experience and come from a community that is currently under-represented in philanthropic leadership.

Visit the Bush Foundation’s website for details on how to apply. Deadline is November 13.

Please help us spread the word about both of these exciting opportunities!

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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