2015 Ron McKinley Philanthropy Fellows Announced

December 16, 2014

Today MCF announced the 2015 Ron McKinley Philanthropy Fellows. The Fellowship, launched as a partnership with the Bush Foundation in 2013, prepares high-potential individuals from underrepresented communities for careers in philanthropy.

Fellows are employed by MCF and placed at participating foundations for three years. This year’s Fellows will join the Bush Foundation, the Headwaters Foundation for Justice or The Minneapolis Foundation, where they will start on January 12, 2015.

“For foundations to remain credible partners, their staff must reflect the shifting diversity of communities,” says Alfonso Wenker, MCF’s director of diversity, equity and inclusion. “These leaders bring strong community relationships that will help position their host sites for the future.”

2015Fellows2Meet the 2015 Ron McKinley Philanthropy Fellows:

  • Allison Johnson (pictured, middle) is a community organizer with Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative, where she has worked across the Twin Cities to build support for affordable housing and stronger communities. She will join the Headwaters Foundation for Justice.
  • Aya Johnson (right) is currently a community representative in the United States Congress focusing on immigration, foreign affairs, unemployment and outreach to communities of color. She has also served as a domestic violence advocate in St. Cloud and Blaine. She will join the Community Innovation team at the Bush Foundation.
  • Adrian Mack (left) is presently the program and curriculum director of STATURE, a leadership program designed to guide Minneapolis youth toward academic and career success. He also participates in several initiatives to engage the broader African American community. He will join the Bush Foundation’s Community Innovation team.
  • Patrice Relerford (second from right) is now the institutional support coordinator and grantwriter at People Serving People, a family-oriented shelter that provides emergency housing and community services to help homeless families achieve stability and reconnect with the community. She began her career as an education reporter at the Star Tribune and will join the Community Impact team at The Minneapolis Foundation.
  • Avi Viswanathan (second from left) has served as the campaign director for HIRE Minnesota, a campaign working to achieve racial equity in employment. He lives with his family on the East Side of St. Paul where he is engaged in many community activities and has served on the Dayton’s Bluff Community Council. He will join the Leadership Programs team at the Bush Foundation.

“I’ve seen firsthand how poverty and inequality erode communities,” says Fellow Patrice Relerford. “Through this fellowship, I believe I can better understand disparities by asking the tough questions to find solutions. For example, why does our region continue to have such glaring academic achievement, employment and home ownership gaps between whites and people of color?”

About the Ron McKinley Philanthropy Fellowship
The Fellowship is dedicated to the late Ron McKinley, a longtime member of the philanthropic and nonprofit communities who embodied justice and equity and worked tirelessly throughout his career to ensure that those from underrepresented communities were afforded equal access, opportunity and the resources necessary to fully participate and be heard.

Applications for the 2016 Ron McKinley Philanthropy Fellowship will be open in fall 2015. Learn more at http://www.mcf.org/about/philanthropy-fellowship or contact Alfonso Wenker, MCF’s director of diversity, equity and inclusion, with any questions.

Photo credit: Anna Min, Min Enterprises

Minnesota Grantmakers at the White House

March 13, 2014

obama2In February, President Obama announced My Brother’s Keeper, 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. Foundations nationally will direct at least $200 million toward the effort over the next five years in addition to $150 million already pledged or awarded.

Minnesota’s philanthropic community was well represented at the announcement. Here, Trista Harris, MCF president, and David Nicholson, executive director, Headwaters Foundation for Justice, reflect on their attendance at the historic announcement with Alfonso Wenker, MCF’s director of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Have you seen philanthropy and government come together like this before? What’s important about this moment?
I have seen foundations and government come together on a local level. I work with the Northside Funders Group where the state, city and county are working alongside foundations to identify common needs and opportunities for collective impact. But, most examples I can think of focus on a specific “it” – a policy or a solution – rather than on the whole.

TH: I think this could be a transformational moment for our country. It allows foundations to lift up best practices and scale up programs that support a consistently underserved population, while the government takes a systemic look – across all federal agencies – to ensure we are effectively serving men and boys of color.

What are the potential impacts for communities of color?
DN: This is an opportunity to focus on what works and finally move some of the persistent disparity numbers in health, wealth, education and opportunity for members of all communities.

TH: When we bring out the best in the most marginalized communities, we bring out the best in America as a whole.

What are the potential impacts for the community as a whole?
DN: We all have a vested interest in the success of everyone in our community. If one group, in this case boys and men of color, are many rungs behind on the opportunity ladder, it is prudent and strategic to focus on them.

TH: As a country, we can’t afford to leave anyone behind. We need the full participation of every American. By focusing on men and boys of color, we are strengthening communities for everyone.

What was it like being in a briefing with the President?
DN: For me personally, it was powerful to see the grandeur and size of the White House. It was very exciting to be in a room with so many people who have such a long commitment to this work.

TH: It was humbling and awe inspiring to be in the White House with a group of amazing people who have been working for decades to improve the lives of men and boys of color, to be joined by the President, who is personally committed to the effort, and to hear from a group of young men who will be impacted directly. It was the single most important experience in my professional career.

What opportunities are there for Minnesota to leverage this momentum?
DN: Minnesota momentum is critical. We have a long history of philanthropic leadership and thoughtful bipartisan initiatives, yet we have not been able to use that to address our dramatic and desperate outcomes for communities of color.

TH: There is great work happening in Minnesota, and this is an opportunity to connect it to national momentum. The African American Leadership Forum, Summit Academy, Brotherhood Inc., Harvest Prep School and Hiawatha Academy are all doing excellent work, so I look forward to Minnesota foundations and government leaders coming to the table and to Minnesota being one of the first states to scale its efforts.

Minnesota grantmakers are invited to continue the conversation at “My Brother’s Keeper: What’s Next for Minnesota?” a facilitated dialogue on Tuesday, March 25.

How Do Foundation Program Officers Gauge Grant Impact?

April 1, 2013

measuring-impactIf you work for a nonprofit, perhaps you’ve wondered what happens to a status or final report you’ve written and submitted to a foundation, reporting on a grant. Well, wonder no more.

The Minnesota Council on Foundations hosted a conversation with five program officers from its member foundations about evaluating grants and grantees. The complete conversation will run in the spring issue of Giving Forum –MCF’s publication covering philanthropy news by and for grantmakers, givers and nonprofits.

Participating program officers were:

  • Joanna Ramirez Barrett, program operations and evaluation director, Northwest Area Foundation
  • Monica Bryand, senior program officer, Headwaters Foundation for Justice
  • Nate Dorr, program officer – grants, Northwest Minnesota Foundation
  • Susan Voigt, program manager, Medica Foundation
  • Laura Zimmermann, arts program officer and director of artist fellowships, The McKnight Foundation

Program officers answered questions about what types of follow-up reports they request from grantees and how they use and share the data contained within. They were candid about changes they’ve made to processes at their foundations based on grantee feedback, and they told us how they measure their own success as grantmakers. Find out if they believe their success is dependent on the accomplishments of their grantees.

Sneak Peek Video Online Now
Here’s a glimpse into the Giving Forum feature where three program officers (Barrett, Voigt and Zimmermann) give advice on providing measurement data to funders, explain why they believe it is important to do so and recommend resources nonprofit staff can use to learn more about successful evaluation strategies.

To read the complete conversation, look for Giving Forum, in your mailboxes and online by mid-April. If you don’t already receive the free quarterly 16-page print publication, subscribe by creating an account on mcf.org, so you don’t miss the spring issue “Progress Through Evaluation” and future 2013 issues focused on “Corporate Philanthropy” and on “Giving – and Working – Across Generations.”

– Susan Stehling, MCF communications associate

Our special thanks to Pollen for running this as the feature article in today’s issue!

Lead in Social Justice with Headwaters Foundation

June 6, 2012

Are you interested in making a difference in your community while learning about social injustice with a diverse group of peers? The Social Justice Leadership Institute from MCF member Headwaters Foundation for Justice might be for you!

The Social Justice Leadership Institute is a participatory model of fundraising and grantmaking for social change and building community. This immersion in grassroots philanthropy takes place over four months with a cohort of 25 applicants selected by Headwaters. Activities that this group will undertake include:

  • Instruction in social justice history, strategy, and community grantmaking
  • Site visits to local social justice nonprofits
  • Group discussions framed to better understand various roles in addressing social justice
  • A group fundraising and grantmaking process
  • And much more!

If this sounds like it might be for you, you’ll want to attend one of Headwaters’ information sessions on June 19 or June 28. Applications are due July 15. To learn more and apply, visit the Headwaters website.

Headwaters Foundation for Justice Honored for Responsive Philanthropy

September 8, 2011

Headwaters Foundation for JusticeHeadwaters Foundation for Justice has received the 2011 Responsive Philanthropy Award. Given by MAP for Nonprofits and the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, this annual award honors philanthropic organizations that effectively partner with grantees to mobilize resources for the public benefit.

Recipients of this award must be:

  • Responsive to citizen initiatives;
  • Recognize public policy issues and long-term strategies to fight problems; and
  • Commit substantial resources to disadvantaged people and Minnesota communities through a process of dialogue and partnership.

For nearly 30 years the Headwaters Foundation for Justice has been devoted to funding those who fight social, racial, economic and environmental injustice within communities. The work of Headwaters falls into four program areas: grant making, capacity building, donor advisory and educational programs.

Headwaters has directed close to $9 million in grants to Minnesota organizations serving low-income communities, communities of color, GLBTQ people, people with disabilities, immigrants and other historically excluded constituencies.

The foundation will receive their award in a recognition ceremony at Minnesota Council of Nonprofits 25th Annual Conference in October. You can learn more about the foundation and its activities at headwatersfoundation.org. Headwaters is one of six nonprofits to be honored. To learn about the other award recipients, visit minnesotanonprofits.org.