Advance Early Childhood Nutrition with the Cargill Foundation

September 30, 2014

CargillLogoAre you involved with an organization that seeks to improve early childhood nutrition in the Twin Cities metro area?

The Cargill Foundation is accepting applications for one-time planning grants of up to $25,000 and one-time implementation grants of up to $100,000 for programs that advance early childhood nutrition through parent engagement, staff training initiatives, nutrition curricula, and increasing the availability of low-cost, nutritious food.

Last year, the Cargill Foundation awarded more than $1.5 million in the form of 17 grants to various organizations. The planning grants are an excellent way to explore new and innovative ideas in tackling the issue of early childhood nutrition. The implementation grants will go to support thoroughly planned programs that are ready to make the leap and impact local communities.

Proposals of interest should include one of the two priorities: developing or delivering hands-on nutrition education programs, and retaining or increasing participation among childcare providers in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). Check out the Cargill Foundation grant guidelines for full details.

Programs in Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott and Washington counties are eligible. The application window is open from Oct. 1 to Nov. 14.


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


Grantmaker Leaders Elected as MCF Officers and Board Members

December 16, 2010

Join me in welcoming these board members and officers to the leadership helm of the Minnesota Council on Foundations (MCF), a regional association of grantmakers whose members represent three-quarters of all grantmaking in the state, awarding more than $900 million to nonprofits annually.

Officers elected for 2011: Karen Kelley-Ariwoola, vice president, Community Philanthropy, The Minneapolis Foundation, was elected chair; Kate Wolford, president, The McKnight Foundation, was elected vice chair; George Thompson, trustee, Minnesota Community Foundation and The Saint Paul Foundation, was elected secretary; Nancy Nelson, vice president and chief actuary, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation, was elected treasurer.

New directors elected to three-year terms ending in 2013 are: Kim Embretson, vice president – fund development, West Central Initiative; and Kayla Yang-Best, director, Cargill Foundation and Cargill Inc. Jim Hoolihan, president/CEO, Blandin Foundation, was elected to fill a one-year vacancy in the class of 2011.

Directors elected to second three-year terms ending in 2013 are: Nelson; Sherry Ristau, president/CEO, Southwest Initiative Foundation; Carolyn Roby, vice president, Wells Fargo Foundation Minnesota; Thompson; and Wolford.

The Minnesota Council on Foundations, founded in 1969, works actively to strengthen and expand philanthropy. Members include family and private independent foundations, community and other public foundations, and corporate foundations and giving programs.

- Chris Murakami Noonan, MCF communications associate



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