MCF Seeks Executive Assistant

March 7, 2014

helpMCF is hiring! We’re looking to add an Executive Assistant to our team.

The Executive Assistant maintains a one-on-one working relationship and reports directly to the President. The Executive Assistant serves as the primary point of contact for internal and external constituencies on all matters pertaining to the Office of the President.

The Executive Assistant also serves as a liaison to the board of directors and senior management teams; organizes and coordinates executive outreach and external relations efforts and special projects.

Responsibilities of this position include:

  • Completes a broad variety of administrative tasks for the President.
  • Plans, coordinates and ensures the President’s schedule is followed and respected.
  • Communicates directly, and on behalf of the President, with the Board of Directors, Members and staff, and others.
  • Serves as the President’s administrative liaison to MCF’s board of directors.
  • Participates as an adjunct member of the Management Team including assisting in scheduling meetings and attending all meetings, maintaining records and tracking progress.

Qualifications include:

  • Strong organizational skills and interpersonal skills
  • Expert level written and verbal communication skills
  • Demonstrated proactive approaches to problem-solving with strong decision-making capability
  • Forward looking thinker, who actively seeks opportunities and proposes solutions
  • At least 5 years of experience providing executive support or equivalent

Applications will be accepted until March 21.

Have a look at the full job description, and help us spread the word!

Photo cc Matt Wetzler

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


Getting Minority Businesses Into the Stadium Game

March 4, 2014

4464678203_396bf92f19_nToday we welcome Teresa Morrow, vice president of external relations and marketing at The Minneapolis Foundation, to share how the foundation’s Working Capital Loan Fund, a $1.5 million Program Related Investment (PRI), is helping minority businesses get into the game of building the new Vikings stadium.

In late 2012, a Minnesota legislative appropriation and the investment of the Vikings football organization launched plans for a billion dollar sports facility in Minneapolis. Many supporters of the new stadium project heavily promoted the economic activity that would result from the construction of this new facility.

Access to Working Capital is Large Barrier
However, without intentional efforts to level the playing field in terms of access to financing, the stadium will not be the inclusive project that the Legislature envisioned. The goal of The Minneapolis Foundation’s Working Capital Loan Fund is to eliminate the single largest barrier to the inclusion of Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) contractors in this project: access to working capital.

Due to shorter business histories, narrower asset bases and limited access to conventional financing, the only sources of working capital for MBEs are expensive ones. Providing working capital at a more reasonable cost to these MBEs leverages the stadium’s benefit to the entire community by developing long term quality employers, new skills, and capacity—not only for the MBE but also for its employees.

The Working Capital Loan Fund
The Working Capital Loan Fund is a $1 million, 3-year Program Related Investment of The Minneapolis Foundation. The investment is a loan to Meda (Metropolitan Economic Development Association), which is an experienced Community Development Financial Institution. The fund takes a ‘reuse and recycle approach’ with 75% of the fund deployed at any given time. These funds are expected to revolve four times annually, providing up to $12 million in short-term loans to participating MBEs.

Enthusiastic Donor Response!
Donors to The Minneapolis Foundation were invited to participate in this PRI by investing a limited share of capital from their Donor Advised Funds, resulting in a loan pool of $500,000. The Minneapolis Foundation matched the Donor Advised Fund investments to create the $1 million PRI. The Foundation (and the Donor Advised Funds) will earn a modest annual return, and at the end of three years the principal will be returned by Meda.

The response on the part of donors was enthusiastic, with full funding provided in just a matter of weeks. While the support of donors has been gratifying, the interest by potential borrowers is equally satisfying. Small business owners are now receiving tools that will truly help them ‘get in the game!’

Related: For more on the topic, see Mission Investing Gaining Minnesota Momentum, a post by Wendy Wehr, MCF’s vice president of communications and information services.

Photo cc MoDOT

This post was updated with additional information from The Minneapolis Foundation clarifying its PRI.



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


The Path to Effective Philanthropy: Honest Conversations

February 27, 2014

It was a treat this week for MCF and our members to host a conversation with Phil Buchanan, president of the The Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP).

Our exchange was energetic, provocative, fun and sometimes funny.  I was struck by how often we circled back to core concepts and philanthropic fundamentals.

The discussion aligned serendipitously with MCF’s Principles for Grantmakers.  Here are a few snippets that illustrate the challenges — and opportunities — of putting principles into practice.

Effective Governance
According to MCF’s Effective Governance Principle, grantmakers are expected to be good stewards of assets, to fulfill donor intent, to make sound decisions and to perform all fiduciary responsibilities.

Buchanan called for foundation boards to govern effectively by not rubber stamping staff members’ grant recommendations.  “If the board is approving every grant, they’re not taking time to see what it all adds up to and they’re not asking the hard questions.”

And he challenged foundation CEOs to practice “radical openness” with their boards – i.e., to say everything they’re thinking and to spark “messy conversations.”  Good governance doesn’t emerge from perfectly scripted board meetings at which “the most spontaneous thing that happens is when someone gets up to get a cup of coffee.”  (Yes, it’s okay to laugh at ourselves.)

Engaged Learning
The MCF Engaged Learning Principle calls for continuous learning and reflection by engaging board members, staff, grantees and donors in thoughtful dialogue and education.

Of course, learning and continuous improvement through performance assessment is at the heart of CEP’s mission.  (Buchanan readily acknowledged that he is not the expert in philanthropy . . . and he cautioned us to be wary of those who say they are.)

Because philanthropy is “wicked tough,” funding programs on theory alone is not enough.  It’s vital that grantmakers establish performance indicators and are data driven.

And they sometimes need to follow, not lead.  By replicating proven programs, foundations can learn from others and succeed.  (For more on shared goals, read Buchanan’s opinion piece in this week’s Chronicle of Philanthropy.)

Transparency
Through MCF’s Transparency Principle grantmakers strive to build healthy relationships with the public, applicants, grantees and donors by using clear, consistent and timely communications.

Being transparent includes sharing the so-called “failures.” (Our host Kate Wolford of The McKnight Foundation noted that we might be more apt to learn from our missteps by reframing them in more positive, multi-dimensional terms.)

Buchanan reported that it’s up to foundations to share the results of CEP assessments.  Some don’t share at all, some partially share with grantees (and sometimes add a positive spin!), and some share widely, warts and all.

He noted that foundations that are truly transparent are viewed as trustworthy and credible.  For example, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is fully committed to evaluation and transparency, making it all the stronger.

Cynics may say that foundations don’t need to be accountable to anybody.  But as Buchanan reminded everyone, if grantmakers aren’t honest and don’t cultivate positive relationships with their grantees, how can they obtain the candid information they need to improve philanthropy . . . and improve lives?

More to Come
Keep watching our Philanthropy Potluck Blog for future postings about philanthropic effectiveness, including video conversations with MCF President Trista Harris, Buchanan and other big thinkers.

Like our grantmaker members, MCF is committed to hosting robust conversations within and across sectors . . . because leadership for the 21st century requires honest, provocative discussion.

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


Cargill Honored for Anti-poverty Work

February 25, 2014

na31147002CECP, a coalition of 150 CEOs who believe that societal improvement is an essential measure of business performance, recently announced that Cargill (an MCF member) and the PG&E Corporation are recipients of the 14th Annual Excellence Awards.

These companies were chosen by an independent jury as global leaders in corporate societal investment, exemplifying four rigorous Standards of Excellence: CEO leadership, partnership, dedication to measurement and innovation.

The Chairman’s Award, for companies with revenues of $20 billion and more, was presented to Cargill for its work with CARE on the Rural Development Initiatives, which harnesses the company’s passion for improving livelihoods by empowering smallholder farmers, strengthening agricultural supply chains and alleviating poverty. The selection committee was struck by Cargill’s focus on society’s great challenge — poverty — and its desire to strengthen the communities where the company has a presence.

Launched in October 2008, the partnership with CARE leverages their respective skills and experience – working with business units and local employees within important supply chains. The program has benefited more than 100,000 people in India, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Brazil.

“CARE is a terrific partner and we are honored to be recognized for our collective work to increase incomes, improve nutrition and education, and help farmers become more successful,” said Cargill executive chairman Greg Page (pictured left). “Last fall we renewed and expanded our partnership for another three years with an increased focus on food security.”


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