Vote Now for the Twins All-Star Fans Choose Grant Winner

June 12, 2014

480_fans_chooseEarlier this week, the Minnesota Twins and Major League Baseball announced the seven finalists for the first-ever “All-Star Fans Choose” grant.

Voting is open now through July 10 to help award a $500,000 grant to one of seven Upper Midwest nonprofits. The winning nonprofit will be announced during MLB All-Star Week in July.

The seven finalists and projects are:

  • Camp Fire Minnesota in Chanhassen, to improve and expand Camp Tanadoona, a 90-year old rustic summer camp.
  • Channel One Regional Food Bank in Rochester, to add more than 20,000 square feet of warehouse space and build a kitchen and classroom to better serve and feed people in need.
  • Cookie Cart in Minneapolis, to renovate and reconfigure the current location to double the number of teens who can participate in employment and training programs.
  • Hmong American Farmers Association in Vermillion, to construct a farm where Hmong farmers can rent land long-term, learn sustainable agricultural practices, aggregate their produce with other farmers and learn to operate and grow a farming business.
  • Madison Claire Foundation in Woodbury, to build a fully accessible, inclusive playground where children with disabilities can play alongside others and disabled parents can play with their children.
  • Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge in St. Michael, to renovate a former Girl Scout Camp north of the Twin Cities for a year-round school for teen boys experiencing problems with drug and alcohol abuse.
  • People Serving People in Minneapolis, to renovate the kitchen and dining hall at the largest family homeless shelter in Minnesota  to improve safety, sanitation, food recycling and meal service processes.

The “All-Star Fans Choose” grant is a part of an extensive legacy giving campaign, including the contribution of more than $8 million toward local projects and national charitable initiatives. The program is a partnership between MLB Charities, the Twins Community Fund and the Pohlad Family Foundation.

Learn more about the grant program and the seven finalists at the All-Star Fans Choose webpage. Best of luck to all the finalists!



What Will It Take to Build a Beloved Community?

May 19, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-05-19 at 1.43.35 PMLast week a report on black male achievement commissioned by the Foundation Center and the Open Society Foundation was released: Building a Beloved Community: Strengthening the Field of Black Male Achievement.

The report builds on the 2012 study Where Do We Go From Here? Philanthropic Support for Black Men and Boysmaps current work in the area of black male achievement and makes recommendations on what it will take to strengthen the field moving forward.

Based on interviews with 50 leaders in the social, academic, government and business sectors, the report takes stock of major sectors engaged in the field and examines opportunities for other constituencies — especially the corporate and faith sectors — to become more involved.

A “Rethink Philanthropy” chapter calls for longer funding commitments, increased general operating support, permanent endowments and other ways of moving beyond traditional philanthropy.

Susan Taylor Batten, CEO of ABFE, characterizes such efforts as transformational philanthropy and says:

“Ultimately, we have to find ways to ‘hard wire’ a race and gender lens into all investments rather than setting up special projects that are time-limited. The latter is important, but one of our goals is to change the sector so investments in black male achievement are not dependent on a particular leader.”

It is a timely release in light of a growing number of national initiatives focused on improving the economic, social and physical well-being of black males, including My Brother’s Keeper and the Executives’ Alliance to Expand Opportunities for Boys and Men of Color.

Beloved Community

The concept of a “Beloved Community” was popularized by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as a core part of his philosophy.

According to The King Center: Dr. King’s Beloved Community is a global vision, in which all people can share in the wealth of the earth. In the Beloved Community, poverty, hunger and homelessness will not be tolerated because international standards of human decency will not allow it. Racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry and prejudice will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood. In the Beloved Community, international disputes will be resolved by peaceful conflict-resolution and reconciliation of adversaries, instead of military power. Love and trust will triumph over fear and hatred. Peace with justice will prevail over war and military conflict.

Sounds like a world worth working for.

- Susan Stehling, MCF communications associate

 


Engaging Families in Early Childhood Programs and Policies

May 8, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 3.46.24 PMThe Start Early Funders Coalition champions affordable, accessible, high quality care and education for children in Minnesota by leveraging the group’s funding interests to advance public policy and community supports for early childhood education and programs.

Last month the coalition convened community leaders and practitioners to provide information on effectively engaging families in early childhood programs and policies.

The convening focused on two questions:

  • What exactly does “family engagement” mean?
  • How can we implement effective strategies for developing family partnerships, particularly across diverse cultures and varied early childhood programs?”

Family & Community Engagement for Healthy Child Development

Betty Emerita, consultant, Development and Training Inc., and Richard Chase, senior research manager, Wilder Foundation, examined family and community knowledge systems — the informal and formal ways that children learn at home and in their community.

The Family and Community Knowledge Systems Project:

  • Underscores the importance of how programs recognize, interact with and support these important systems in which children are embedded.
  • Aims to expand how we define and support healthy whole-child development and program quality from the perspective of family and community knowledge systems.
  • Highlights and measures ways to strengthen family and community engagement with formal systems to improve early childhood programs, policies, and practices — particularly for low-income children and children of color.

For more on their research, read the resulting publication: Promoting and Measuring Family and Community Engagement for Healthy Early Childhood Development.

Barb Fabre, director of White Earth Reservation child care, and Carolyn Smallwood, executive director, Way to Grow, reflected on their experience using the family and community engagement tool and noted that it increased positive family engagement outcomes and deepened the engagement and understanding of the children and families they served.

Family Engagement Programs and Best Practices

Christine DeGroote, early childhood education specialist, Head Start, presented the organization’s engagement framework for parents, family and community and its success measures. She highlighted the importance of crossing contexts at home, in early childhood programs, school and community to ensure success for children and families.

Mi Yang, parent leadership trainer, Cross-Cultural Leadership Action Program (C-Clap) presented curriculum that her organization used to train community leaders, relatives, parents and providers to educate and empower parents. She encouraged the audience to consider the following:

  1. All parents want their children to succeed
  2. We must believe in parent’s best intentions
  3. Change begins with knowledge

Andre Dukes, family academy director, Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ), presented NAZ’s ending multigenerational poverty approach, highlighting the role of the Family Academy’s parent curriculum, which builds upon a family’s existing strengthens and then adds tools to parents’ skill sets to increase positive parenting practices.

Ellen Haefner, early childhood family educator, reviewed Faribault’s Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) program structure and highlighted initiatives surrounding parent education and opportunities for children and families.

Cisa Keller, director of government and community relations, New Horizons Academy, noted implications for effective family engagement with regard to public policy, including an increase of early learning scholarships and multiple federal efforts such as, Early Head Start Child Care Partnerships, proposed CCDBG changes and more.

Rae Jean Hansen, senior program officer, Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, closed by encouraging attendees to use the research and best practices of the panelists to further work for effective family education and high quality early care.

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


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


Young or Old, Mentoring Matters

January 28, 2014

mentoringworks_logoSometimes a little moral support can make all the difference.

January is National Mentoring Month. And evidence shows that mentoring is definitely worth celebrating and promoting.

No matter your age or your goals, support from others can help you overcome barriers to success, navigate unfamiliar cultures, and reach new heights.

Many examples of mentoring’s power have popped up in my reading this month. They’ve run the gamut – from reduction in juvenile crime for at-risk youth in national mentoring programs, to greater interest and confidence among mentored girls and young women pursuing STEM studies and careers, to patients having greater success controlling their diabetes when paired with a peer mentor than when taking medication.

Career Growth in Philanthropy
Of course, social support is important at work, too. Local peer networks are popular resources for MCF members. And national networks and affinity groups are valuable repositories of information for professional development and job effectiveness.

MCF has even launched its own version of a mentoring program. Four inaugural MCF Philanthropy Fellows have joined the Bush Foundation to grow professionally and infuse new ideas and energy into the sector.  Read about the MCF Philanthropy Fellows in our Philanthropy Potluck Blog post, and while you’re at it, check out our announcement about EPIP’s new Leadership Institute.

Mentoring in Minnesota
While Minnesota grantmakers are building their own skills, they’re also providing financial support to local, national and global mentoring programs. Not surprisingly, 86 percent of our state’s grant dollars dedicated to mentoring benefit children and youth, according to MCF’s latest Giving in Minnesota research.

Leading Minnesota funders for youth development mentoring include: Federated Insurance Foundation; Greater Twin Cities United Way; Carlson Family Foundation; Cargill Foundation and Cargill, Inc.; and Otto Bremer Foundation. The McKnight Foundation has also been a major youth development grantmaker and was instrumental in founding Youthprise.

According to MCF research, leading nonprofit recipients of private, community/public and corporate grants include: Big Brothers/Big Sisters in St. Paul and throughout the state; Mentoring Partnership of Minnesota (MPM); Bolder Options and BestPrep.

Last year MPM honored the Carlson Family Foundation with the Bob Dayton Quality Mentoring Award as a leading investor and champion for high-quality youth mentoring – long-term, trusting relationships between children and caring adults.

According to MPM:

Mentoring is an active ingredient in helping young people perform better in school, develop aspirations to go to college and choose a career, make responsible decisions, model good behavior, and become more productive and engaged citizens – all key factors in building stronger communities.

Join the Conversation
Check out the National Mentoring Month resources and let us know what resonates with you. What positive outcomes have you experienced as a mentee or mentor? What mentoring programs do you know of that are achieving exceptional results for individuals of varying ages?

- Wendy Wehr, MCF v.p. 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


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,551 other followers