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.”

Helping Smallholder Farmers Grow Food for a Hungry World

August 6, 2013

Mosaic Villages Project India

new study indicates that world food production will need to double to feed the expected global population in 2050. In the summer issue of Giving Forum on corporate giving, learn how MCF member The Mosaic Company is working to change that with The Mosaic Villages Project.

As a global leader in crop nutrition, Mosaic is focused on two of the world’s most pressing problems: food security and water scarcity.

In many areas of the world, smallholder farmers are trapped in a cycle of insufficient crop yields and poverty. Generally living on one acre of land or less, smallholders often struggle simply to feed themselves — much less generate a surplus of food. With global population expected to increase to nine billion by 2050, it’s imperative that every farmer is able to maximize crop yields.

The award-winning Mosaic Villages Project provides participating farmers in India, Guatemala and several African countries with no-interest loans to buy fertilizer at planting; loans are repaid through the sale of surplus yield at harvest. Mosaic agronomists provide agricultural education and train partners to deliver ongoing advice on science-based farming practices.

Read more about how these models can help a hungry world grow the food it needs here.

– Susan Stehling, MCF communications associate

Grantmaking at Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies

October 26, 2011

Margaret Cargill

Read the fall issue of Giving Forum for an update on what’s happening at Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies, where grantmaking has started in the areas of Environment; Relief, Recovery and Development; and Arts and Cultures.

  • Environment: Grants made in June focus on land-use solutions in the Tongass National Forest in Alaska and neighboring Great Bear Rainforest in Canada; also Micronesia, to support efforts to preserve coral reefs and land-based resources. The next grants likely will be made in Asia, focused on marine- and land-use in Indonesia and Cambodia. Watch for a local subprogram focus on connecting youth with the outdoors.
  • Relief, Recovery and Development: First “rapid response” grants made in September 2011 to Midwest community foundations, to help residents affected by flooding and tornadoes.
  • Arts and Cultures – Native Arts, Teacher Education, and Folk Art: Organizations working on Native Arts in the Pacific Northwest are now being invited to apply for grants from the Native Arts program. Those doing similar work on Native Arts in the upper Midwest, including Minnesota, will soon be invited to apply.

Other program areas that the organization will address are under development. They will include: Aging services; children and families; animal welfare; and planned health.

Most, if not all, of these areas will include a component of local giving. Terry Meersman, vice president of programs for Margaret A. Cargill Foundation, explains:

“We’re clear about our program areas, and we’re clear there will be local giving. As much as possible, we’d like to be consistent in the areas we’re defining for national and global giving, but until we have things laid out completely, it’s hard to say that there will be an exact parallel structure locally.”

Read the Giving Forum article for much more information.

Susan Stehling, communications associate

Minnesota Grantmakers Respond to Famine in Somalia

August 29, 2011

Thousands of families in the Horn of Africa are suffering and in need of hunger relief because of an ongoing drought that is the region’s worst in decades. Several MCF members are responding with donations to partner organizations providing on-the-ground assistance:

  • The Mosaic Company has posted a $100,000 matching grant for the Minneapolis-based American Refugee Committee to GiveMN. Every donation to ARC will be matched by Mosaic, with transaction fees also covered, allowing donors to double their impact. Donate now through GiveMN.
  • The General Mills Foundation is donating $100,000 to the American Refugee Committee’s efforts, in the form of an initial $50,000 donation plus an offer to match donations from other Twin Cities companies up to $50,000.
  • In response to the General Mills matching offer, Best Buy is donating $50,000 and carrying the matching challenge forward, with an additional $50,000 available to be matched.
  • The Cargill Foundation has made a $100,000 donation to its longtime partners, CARE and the World Food Programme, two global organizations that fight hunger and poverty and are deeply involved in the Horn of Africa crisis.

MCF has set up a page to track grantmaker responses to the famine as we hear about them. Check back at for further updates.

Discover Your Fountain of Youth

February 28, 2011

Dan Buettner is an world renowned explorer, a best-selling writer and an engaging speaker. He has also, I believe, discovered the Fountain of Youth.

Buettner might take issue with that claim, as unlike a fountain that instantly restores youth to anyone who drinks from its waters, his Blue Zones — hotzones of human health and vitality — are populated by people doing the right things, day after day, every day of their long lives.

He and researchers from the National Institutes of Health and National Geographic have discovered five small populations that claim the world’s longest disability-free life spans. Residents of the zones, from Sardinia, Italy, to Okinawa, Japan, to Loma Linda, California, live to be 100 at a rate that is 10 times the rate of the general U.S. population.

Working with a second team of scientists, he has isolated the common denominators that explain the extraordinary longevity. While there is no “magic bullet,” Buettner’s Blue Zone prescription is surprisingly simple. Sorry, I’m not going to give it to you here.

Have you ever asked questions like these:

  • What is the optimal diet for making it to a healthy age 90?
  • Should you be running marathons or doing yoga?
  • What dietary supplements work?
  • Does stress really shorten your life?

If so, you don’t want to miss Buettner’s Opening Keynote Blue Zones: Secrets of a Long Life at MCF’s Community/Public Foundation Conference March 17-18, 2011, in St. Cloud.

Buettner will debunk the most common age-related quality-of-life myths and offer a science-backed blue print that the average American can use to live another 12 quality years.

Conference and hotel rates rise a week from Tuesday, so register today!

– Susan Stehling, MCF

Women’s Wishes and Wealth

October 11, 2010

A co-worker recently drew my attention to a video chronicling the history of women funding women’s issues in the United States.

A Brief History of the Women’s Donor Activist Movement is a light-hearted look at the serious issue of women (and men) worldwide putting their wealth behind their wishes for themselves and the women and girls in their lives. The video was produced by and

The four minute history starts in 1880, when Matilda Joslyn Gage called on women of means to fund women’s rights:

  • the right to vote,
  • the right to own property,
  • basic human rights and
  • the emancipation of all enslaved women and men.

Seems the call wasn’t really answered until 1882 when Eliza Eddy pledged the first major gift by a woman to fund  the women’s movement. She did so at the conclusion of a bitter divorce when her ex moved their children to Europe. She had no rights and thus no recourse.

She hoped the donation of two-thirds of her estate would spur other women to do the same. It didn’t, and it was almost 100 years before women really began to fund causes instrumental to their success in new ways and at new levels.

Since then women’s organizations and funds have grown, and since 2000 women’s funds have proliferated worldwide. The film quickly tells the story of important donations and significant milestones in the movement, including the start of the TEWA Women’s Fund in Nepal in 2006. There women collectively donated their gold dowry bracelets to help start the fund – a striking example of wealth backing wishes.

In 2010, the Women’s Funding Network is more than 160 organizations strong, more a movement than a network the video asserts. The film concludes with the observation that in the United States, at least 51 percent of the assets are now held in women’s names. Check it out. It’s fun and informative.

If you’re wondering who does funding to support women here in our state, check out the work that the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota is doing.

– Susan Stehling, MCF

Photo CC OneEighteen