Critical Moment in Philanthropy: Calendar of Sessions and Videos

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Learning Series Workshops and On-Demand Videos

The following workshops and peer conversations are available to MCF members who register for our 2021 Learning Series. After you register, you will gain access to a scheduling page where you may sign up for sessions, get links for event log-in and download calendar requests. Join all or a few of the sessions, or watch them later in 2021, based on your interests and availability.

Scroll to the bottom of the page for a full list of on-demand videos.

February 2021

MCF New Member Welcome (Virtual Peer Conversation)
Tuesday, February 2, 2021, 9:00 – 10:00 a.m.

Join this open-format conversation to connect with peers and learn about MCF membership. Long-time MCF members and current staff will share insights about how to get the most out of your membership. Come prepared to ask questions and to start building a stronger network. This session is designed for new members and individuals who would like to engage more deeply within the MCF member network.

Hosts: Eric Anderson, Director of Stewardship, Minneapolis Foundation; Kristen Cullen, Member Engagement Manger, Minnesota Council on Foundations; and Kristi Nichols, Senior Program Officer, Opus Foundation

Becoming a Better Ally: Supporting Racial Equity in Rural Minnesota (Virtual Peer Conversation)
Wednesday, February 3, 2021, 9:00 – 10:30 a.m.

Join a conversation with foundation leaders who are working to advance racial equity in rural communities and small cities in Greater Minnesota. Presenters will share details about efforts to remove barriers to economic mobility and community-led efforts to make full participation in community and civic life a reality. Participants will learn about demographic shifts in the state, how their boards and staff have engaged and learned about the issues, the programs that have been developed to address systemic racism, and reflections on being white foundation executives leading this work.

Presenters: Diana Anderson, President Southwest Initiative Foundation; Abdi Daisane, Enterprise Academy Program Officer, Initiative Foundation; Teresa Peterson, Board Member, Southwest Initiative Foundation; Tony Sertich, President, Northland Foundation; and Matt Varilek, President, Initiative Foundation


Philanthropy’s Role in Momentum Building to Support Democracy (Virtual Workshop Session)
Tuesday, February 9, 2021, 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

From Census to Census, philanthropy plays a critical role in momentum building across the landscape of democratic institutions. Foundations provide funds, build infrastructure, grow leadership, encourage relational organizing and amplify collective voice. In the long-game of building equitable and vibrant democratic institutions, philanthropy enhances all levels of outreach for the Census, voter mobilization, Get Out the Vote, and non-partisan redistricting. Early in 2021, philanthropy can take a critical role supporting community-focused redistricting, giving power to the voters to draw their districts that reflect their communities. We can continue to register people to vote and support informed, engaged citizens by funding local, independent media. We can do more research into the ripple effects of inaccurate census data on undercounted, under-represented and underserved communities. Together, Minnesota’s foundations can continue to lead the country by example and set the pace for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Presenter: Jaci David, Public Policy Program Officer, Blandin Foundation; Mónica María Hurtado, Community Health Organizer, Voices for Racial Justice; and Katina Mortensen, Public Policy Director, Minnesota Council on Foundations


How to Practice Anti-Racism in Family Foundations (Virtual Peer Conversation)
Thursday, February 11, 2021, 10:00 – 11:30 a.m.

The Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota staff invite you to participate in a peer discussion about the opportunities and challenges of leaning into diversity, equity and inclusion work as an all-white staff at a FAMILY Foundation. Phillips staff and participants will be encouraged to share examples of equity practices across the Foundation—in grantmaking and administrative work. We will wrestle with questions about whom we are accountable to, how to demonstrate accountability and its impacts on the work. We will discuss when and how the board engages in DEI work and how to overcome bumps in the road. While themes may be applicable across Foundation types, this session will focus on specific dynamics showing up in family Foundations. The session will include some brief framing and a few specific guiding questions, but the majority of our time will be organic discussion based on the interests of participants.

Presenters: E. Coco, Program Director, Economic Ecosystem; Tracy Lamparty, Director of Administration; Joel Luedtke, Program Director, Education; and Patrick Troska, President, Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota


Going to Where the Kids Are: Funders, Districts and the Future of Public Education (Virtual Workshop Session)
Friday, February 12, 2021, 9:30 – 11:00 a.m.

Sponsored by:



Education consistently receives more funding from U.S. foundation than any issue other than health. Yet, support for local school districts - the entities that educate the vast majority of America’s youth - is modest. In Minneapolis, that support is declining. This session will challenge the reticence of many funders to support traditional public education by showing three approaches that are working. We will also highlight school districts in other major cities that have used philanthropic partnerships to spur consistent improvement. Finally, the presenters hope to engage participants in a lively conversation about the current education funding landscape and whether it needs to shift.

Presenters: Joel Luedtke, Program Director, Education, The Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minn.; Patrice Relerford, Senior Director of Impact & Collective Giving, The Minneapolis Foundation; DeSeandra Sheppheard, Director of Grants and Operations, The Graves Foundation


Becoming an Anti-Racist Sector: Independent Foundation Network (Virtual Peer Conversation)
Tuesday, February 16, 2021, 10:00 – 11:00 a.m.

Join us for a peer conversation for staff and board members of independent foundations. This session coincides with a meeting of MCF’s Independent Foundation Professionals Network, a group for MCF members who work at private independent foundations and are interested in discussing the unique issues and opportunities for independent foundations. The conversation will be led by attendees; plan to be actively engaged and use your webcam, if you’re comfortable doing so. We will begin the conversation with remarks from MCF members who are working to advance anti-racism work in their foundations and in the sector. After those opening remarks, we’ll engage in conversation with one-another about how to promote greater racial equity across Minnesota.

Host: Josh Vang, Member Services Manager, Minnesota Council on Foundations


Becoming an Anti-Racist Sector: Community Foundation Network (Virtual Peer Conversation)
Wednesday, February 17, 2021, 1:30 – 3:00 p.m.

Join us for a peer conversation for staff and board members of MCF-member community foundations. This session coincides with a meeting of MCF’s Community Foundation Peer Network, a group for community foundation professionals to connect with one another and discuss and learn about topics of interest across the community foundation spectrum. The conversation will be led by attendees; plan to be actively engaged and use your webcam, if you’re comfortable doing so. We will begin the conversation with remarks from MCF members who are working to advance anti-racism work in their foundations and in the sector. After those opening remarks, we’ll engage in conversation with one-another about how to promote greater racial equity across Minnesota.

Hosts: Diana Anderson, President and CEO, Southwest Initiative Foundation and Katina Mortensen, Director of Public Policy, Minnesota Council on Foundations


Out the Window: Rethinking Rules for Effectiveness and Equity (Virtual Peer Conversation)
Thursday, February 18, 2021, 1:30 – 3:00 p.m.

Sponsored by:


Philanthropy’s rules, processes and procedures are largely self-imposed. During the pandemic and following the murder of George Floyd many grantmakers shifted how they work to be more creative and innovative to address these exigent issues. What are some good practices that we adopted? How do we get these practices to stick beyond this moment and transform it to a movement? Join us for a peer conversation to share innovations and strategies to keep these good practices moving forward.

Presenters: Claire Chang, Senior Program Officer, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation; Maria De La Cruz, President, Headwaters Foundation for Justice; and Erik Torch, Director of Grantmaking, Northland Foundation


Corporate Giving Discussion: Our Individual Equity Journeys (Virtual Peer Conversation)
Friday, February 19, 2021, 9:00 – 10:00 a.m.

Join this open discussion where we will spend much of our time in one-on-one and small group peer conversations related to our individual journeys toward racial equity. This will be a time to get to know peers, share successes and challenges around advancing racial equity in our organizations, our roles and our individual lives. This conversation is offered in conjunction with our Corporate Community Affairs Professionals Network. The conversation will start with remarks from members who are working to advance anti-racism work in their foundations and in the sector. After those opening remarks, we’ll engage in conversation with one-another about how to promote greater racial equity in Minnesota.

Host: Paul Masiarchin, Director of Member Services, Minnesota Council of Foundations and Judson E. McNeil, President, The Toro Company Foundation


Where Does Our Democracy Go From Here? (Virtual Peer Conversation)
Tuesday, February 23, 2021, 9:30 – 11:00 a.m.

Sponsored by:

Our democracy has endured incredible strains over the last year – trying to carry out a census and elections during a pandemic, tragedy and mobilization that shined a spotlight on racial injustice, threats of violence against election workers, efforts to undermine the legitimacy of our institutions and extremist violence at the US Capitol. There were bright spots too – how philanthropy and nonprofits rallied to carry out census outreach under rapidly changing circumstances and to help election officials and voters prepare for a pandemic election. Minnesota had record participation in both the census and the election! Join us for a discussion about what’s next for our democracy.

Presenters: Carrie Davis, Democracy Program Director, Joyce Foundation; Nick Harper, esq., Civic Engagement Director, League of Women Voters Minnesota; Katina Mortensen, Public Policy Director, Minnesota Council on Foundations; and Steve Simon, Minnesota Secretary of State

Building Wealth from the Ground Up:  How Foundations Can Support Community Ownership (Virtual Workshop Session)
Friday, February 26, 2021, 9:30 – 11:00 a.m.

Sponsored by:



It’s no secret that the financial industry doesn’t work the same for all of us. From racial redlining practices of the 30s and 40s, to the most recent small business COVID-19 relief efforts, there is overwhelming evidence the industry has a heavy hand in deepening racial wealth disparities. Ask any BIPOC Northside business owner, real estate developer, hopeful homeowner and they’ll tell you as much. What can funders do to disrupt the subtle and not so subtle ways BIPOC communities are designed out of opportunities to build wealth? Are systems disrupted from the inside out or from external pressures? The Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of MN has a story to tell about how we have approached disruption of systems that deepen racialized wealth gaps. From community-led strategy development, creating board buy-in, to redefining “risk,” we’ll share about the work required to advance a number of promising projects. You will also hear directly from our community partners, Domonique Jones and Calvin Littlejohn who will share their perspective of the work on the Northside.

Presenters: E. Coco, Program Director, Economic Ecosystem, Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota; Domonique Jones, Program Director, Commercial Land Trust Initiative, City of Lakes Community Land Trust; Calvin Littlejohn, CEO, TRI Construction; and Patrick Troska, President, Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota

March 2021

Our Journey to Becoming an Anti-Racist Funder (Virtual Workshop Session)
Thursday, March 4, 2021, 1:00 – 2:30 p.m.

Sponsored by:

Are you or your organization working to become an anti-racist funder? Join this session to consider first steps on the path. In this session, we’ll have a conversation about where we’ve seen success in moving our organizations towards tangible anti-racist outcomes and where we’re seeing barriers. Greater Twin Cities United Way will kick off the conversation with where we started, our steps in making our grantmaking and organizational practices more equitable, and where we’re hoping to continue the work. We’ll open up the conversation for sharing, brainstorming and discussion about how to take the first steps (or more steps!) into becoming a truly anti-racist funder.

Presenters: James Collins, Director of 211 and Stephannie Lewis, Associate Vice President, Community Impact, Greater Twin Cities United Way


Make Justice Possible: Funding Grassroots, Community-Led Organizing (Virtual Workshop Session)
Tuesday, March 9, 2021, 1:00 – 2:30 p.m.

2020 was a year of reckoning. In the midst of the devastation of COVID-19, people around the world took to the streets to defend Black life and, in doing so, helped accelerate conversations about safety, race and injustice. In 2020, everyday people made it impossible to ignore that community-led and grassroots initiatives are critical vehicles for change. The Transforming Movements Fund (TMF) and Fund for Trans Generations (FTG) at Borealis Philanthropy support visionary young LGBTQ, people of color leaders and organizations, trans-led organizing, respectively. Both of the funds focus on supporting community-led organizations because those most impacted by injustice and oppression are also the closest to the solutions for a future where all communities can thrive.  Join us to learn why funding grassroots initiatives is critical in order to build just and equitable futures, explore approaches to funding community-led work, and help each other troubleshoot barriers to funding at the grassroots.

Presenters: Alejandra Dani Martinez, Program Officer, Transforming Movements Fund, Borealis Philanthropy and Ryan Li Dahlstrom, Program Officer, Fund for Trans Generations, Borealis Philanthropy


Funding for Volunteer Engagement (Virtual Workshop Session)
Wednesday, March 10, 2021, 11:00 – 12:00 p.m.

Communities across the country are continuing to respond to the pandemic crisis, a faltering economy and racial injustices. In this time of rising needs and shrinking funds, there is an increasing focus on how to ensure organizations remain viable for the long term. Nonprofits are on the frontlines of the community response—and without the volunteers they need, they will be unable to meet those challenges. Unfortunately, volunteers are frequently viewed as simply “nice helpers” and organizations and funders alike need to shift this narrow perception to recognize the pivotal role the community can play in sustaining and expanding mission reach. Not only are volunteers critical to the response in these turbulent times, but research demonstrates a strong connection between organizations that operate with volunteer engagement as a core strategy for mission accomplishment and the overall health and effectiveness of the organization. Strategic volunteer engagement can spark transformations and build capacity, but not without support. Millions of people have the desire to volunteer, but most organizations lack the necessary infrastructure to empower this renewable resource effectively. We’ll explore the latest research and share successful funder-nonprofit collaborations that demonstrate the impact of strategic volunteer engagement. Attendees will gain new tools to drive this important conversation with their grantees and increase their own return on investment.

Presenters: Rina Cohen, Planning Executive, Caring & Network Departments, UJA-Federation of New York; Catherine Gray, Director of Impact Strategy, Civic Engagement, Minneapolis Foundation; Jane Leighty Justis, President, The Leighty Foundation; and Lynne Telford, President, Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado


A New Era for Philanthropy (Virtual Peer Conversation)
Thursday, March 11, 2021, 10:00 – 11:30 a.m.

This year’s global crises unearthed a new chapter in the long-running national history of social disparities, inequities in health and racial injustice. These issues galvanized a movement to confront our divides and reshape our future. This movement accelerated commitments to address inequalities to deliver lasting change. But what will this really mean? How can we act so this chapter of change doesn’t fall to rhetoric? This moment compels us to be bold and do more than communicate a call to action. It requires us to act with intention and attention. It requires courage, momentum and integrity—qualities nonprofit partners on the front lines of the community demonstrate every day. They’ve shown us that now is the time for philanthropy to innovate beyond the traditional components we are so used to deploying: siloed areas of charitable giving, employee volunteerism and transactional grantmaking. Now, more than ever, we need a new approach that brings these unique assets together to leverage more equitable change. Join this conversation to explore how we can bring the full power of our financial resources, our employees, and collective voice to make the greatest difference to those in need.  

Presenter: Paurvi Bhatt, President, Medtronic Foundation and Vice President of Philanthropy, Medtronic and Kara Carlisle, Vice President of Programs, McKnight Foundation


A Nation of Sheep will Beget a Government of Wolves: How the Media Can Save Civil Society...and Itself (Virtual Workshop Session)
Tuesday, March 16, 2021, 9:00 – 10:30 a.m.

As traditional gatekeepers flail in the face of new technologies and a splintering of new voices, traditional journalistic values of accuracy, objectivity and credibility have too often become negotiable. In a world where media can be more an echo chamber than a proving ground for the truth, how can journalism help the country and its citizens move back toward civil public dialogue? And how can philanthropy help make this happen?  

Presenters: Matt Carlson, Faculty Member, Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Minnesota; Jonathan Kealing, Chief Network Officer at Institute for Nonprofit News; Mary Karen Lynn-Klimenko, President, Private Philanthropy Services; Dominic Papatola, Regional Director, Otto Bremer Trust and Karron Skog, Associate Managing Editor at The New York Times


Disruption, Recovery, and Resilience: Data Collection and Usage Through a Watershed Year (Virtual Workshop Session)
Wednesday, March 17, 2021, 10:00 – 11:00 a.m.

2020 presented each funder with their own set of overlapping challenges.  This interactive session will explore how funders were forced to change practices around the data they collected and what they will expect from grantees in the future. Together, we’ll consider the following questions: How are foundations reacting to disruptions created for them and their stakeholders? What data has changed from pre-2020 that is no longer relevant? What relevant data has changed that will have a downstream impact? (i.e., changes now create funding shifts later) How will funders change their practices going forward?

Presenter: Aaron Spevacek, Product Implementation Engineer, Foundant Technologies and Marius Dereskevicius, Client Success Manager, Foundant Technologies


Foundant Grant Lifecycle Manager and CommunitySuite Software Training (User Group Sessions)
Wednesday, March 17, 2021, 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Join MCF and our partners from Foundant Technologies as we convene two user group sessions related to Foundant’s Grant Lifecycle Manager (GLM) and CommunitySuite software. Here you will get a walk-through of the most recent release information, receive guidance, and a chance to ask questions and network with others like you. The two sessions will take place simultaneously in separate virtual rooms.

Session Host: Kristen Cullen, Member Engagement and Grants Manager, Minnesota Council on Foundations
CommunitySuite Host: Rosie Sprangers, Solutions Engineer, Foundant Technologies and Ben Luchsinger, Client Success Manager, Foundant Technologies
GLM Host: Lynsie Laughlin, Solutions Engineer, Foundant Technologies and Joshua Bernard, Client Success Manager, Foundant Technologies


Environmental Justice: Exploring the Intersection of Environment and Equity (Virtual Peer Conversation)
Thursday, March 18, 2021, 1:00 – 2:30 p.m.

Whether or not you’re an environmental funder, striving toward equity requires an understanding of environmental racism and environmental justice. Join your colleagues for an exploration of the intersection between environmental, cultural and economic justice. Sam Grant, Executive Director of MN350, will set the stage for thoughtful discussions about the intertwining nature of environmental issues and equity. Breakout rooms hosted by foundations actively exploring this intersection will give participants an opportunity to connect and identify action steps to support movement towards a more equitable, sustainable future. 

Presenters: Becky Erdahl, Executive Director, Carolyn Foundation; Sam Grant, Executive Director, MN350; Paul Odegaard, Philanthropic Advisor, Minneapolis Foundation; Danyelle O'Hara, Community Relationship Officer, Mortenson Family Foundation; JoAnne Peters, Foundation Co-Director, Patrick and Aimee Butler Family Foundation; and Brendon Slotterback, Program Officer, McKnight Foundation


Systems Change: A Crucial Part of the Ecosystem (Virtual Workshop Session)
Tuesday, March 23, 2021, 1:00 – 2:30 p.m.

Minnesota is in the top philanthropic states, yet we continue to have some of the largest gaps in health, education, housing and jobs for BIPOC communities. This panel discussion will highlight organizations that will speak to how philanthropy can make a greater difference in communities at the local, state and global level when investments are made in systems change efforts. By attending this session, attendees will learn how systems change efforts have helped protect the environment, address inequity and strengthen developing communities. You’ll also learn about the importance of supporting advocacy and systems change work led by community leaders.

Presenters: Mónica Carrillo Zegarra, Regional Director, Latin America, Thousand Currents; Joshua Crosson, Executive Director, EdAllies; Emilia Gonzalez Avalos, Executive Director, NAVIGATE MN; Ambar C Hanson, Community Relationship Officer, Mortenson Family Foundation; Danyelle O'Hara, Community Relationship Officer, Mortenson Family Foundation; and Colleen O'Connor Toberman, River Corridor Program Director, Friends of Mississippi River 

Equity Starts with Learning (Virtual Workshop Session)
Friday, March 26, 2021, 9:00 - 10:30 a.m.

In a year of incredible turmoil and uncertainty, the Medtronic Foundation found a silver lining – strengthening partnerships virtually and building an equity focused peer learning community. The Medtronic Foundation’s Learning Community brings together nonprofits across three continents to build collective knowledge and advance patient-centered health improvements in underserved communities. Collective learning happens through regular insights from those on the ground and by actively working to break down the funder-recipient paradigm, putting a premium on partnerships. Join us to learn about the Medtronic Foundation’s shift from grant-maker to partner. Hear how partners have re-defined what “patient-centered” services truly mean, addressing growing, but critical needs of today. Listen to a candid conversation between a funder and local/global grant partners partnering during turbulent times. Participate in peer discussions, sharing insights and ideas for funders looking to strengthen partnerships and improve equity.

Presenters: Jessica Daly, Director, Global Health, Medtronic Foundation; Dr. Jokho Farah, Chief Information Officer, Cedar Riverside People’s Center; and Marjorie Mbule, Senior Program Lead, mothers2mothers


The following on-demand videos are available to view by MCF members, as part of your Learning Series registration. After you register, you'll receive full access to the links for each of these videos.

Impact Investing 101: This video, presented in February 2020, is reprised here because of its timely relevance. This panel discussion from the 2020 Minnesota Council on Foundations Conference covers the four stages of intentionality in building an Impact Investing portfolio. The stages include 1) Curiosity, 2) Learning and aligning attitudes, 3) Strategic: coordinating experience, knowledge and portfolio management 4) All in: the organization's mission and values are aligned to, and found in all aspects of its portfolio. As well, the panel talks about evaluating ESG (environmental, social and governance) using Sustainable Development Goals. Featuring Nancy Jacobs, founder, president and CEO from Sundance Family Foundation, other panelists include Geetu Sharma, President of Alphas Future, John E. Larsen, Marbrook Foundation and John Larsen Foundation with moderator Susan Hammel Cogent Consulting and the Minnesota Council on Foundations Executive in Residence for Impact Investing.

Racial Equity Considerations for Investors: This video, originally presented in December 2020, is shared through the CFA Society of Minnesota and offered to MCF members. Learn strategies to use impact investing to address systemic issues of racial equity. Presenters include Karen Florez, Director of Investments, Minneapolis Foundation; Warren McLean, President, Northside Economic Opportunity Network; Susan Hammel, Executive in Residence for Impact Investing, Minnesota Council on Foundations; and John Otterlei, Chief Investment Officer, Bush Foundation.

Supporting BIPOC Communities Through Impact Investing: Wealth inequalities along racial lines persist. In this video, you will learn about philanthropic strategies to address the racial injustice and inequality experienced by Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) individuals and communities. Confronting the economic disparities that BIPOC Americans face today will require an ecosystem of strategies from philanthropy and other financial systems. This presentation introduces participants to strategies to scale philanthropy’s grant and investment capital to maximize the impact a foundation can have on creating change. Impact investing offers investors an opportunity to pursue competitive financial returns while achieving measurable social impacts. Both strategies, grants and impact investments, can be a part of the solution to support upward economic mobility for BIPOC families. Presented by Ron Homer, Chief Strategist and President, Access Capital Community Investment Fund, RBC Global Asset Management.

Using the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Across Your Foundation: Collecting evaluation results from foundations of various sizes and types has been tried and has failed over many decades. Let’s start again with a common scorecard and use the UN SDGs that were approved and are being implemented by 190 countries all over the world. With 289 indicators supporting 17 goals, we can have one dashboard across all foundation functions: from asset management, to programs to grantmaking. We can align our successes with countless foundations, and ultimately track our achievements on a global map. Presented by Mark Ritchie, President, Global Minnesota; Peg Thomas, Executive Director, Sundance Family Foundation; and Anna Wasescha, President and CEO, West Central Initiative.