Grants by MN Philanthropy Partners Support Solutions Built by and for Communities of Color

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Nonprofit organizations and programs led by people of color that address racial disparities in Minnesota are among recent awardees of more than $6.6 million in total grants made by The Saint Paul Foundation, F. R. Bigelow Foundation and Mardag Foundation in May.

“Creating change isn’t about funders telling communities of color what they need; it’s about empowering agents of change in communities of color to tell us what works for them. They are the experts on how racial disparities affect Minnesotans, and giving them the resources to build culturally and racially informed solutions is key to making our state a place where all people can thrive,” said Ann Mulholland, vice president of Community Impact at Minnesota Philanthropy Partners.

A Metropolitan Council report released in April noted that racial disparities are more pronounced and persistent than those in other US metro areas. Disparities in employment, income and homeownership have existed in the Twin Cities since 1990.

Reports from the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation reinforce these findings: The median income for a white household is $57,800 while Hispanics earn $37,600, Asians earn $36,200, American Indians earn $25,000, and African Americans earn $20,500.

“Successfully addressing racial disparities in our state requires a hard look at many facets of life, from education and employment to leadership and community engagement. But none of these will be successful unless solutions are informed and formed by the people they impact,” said Mulholland.

Among The Saint Paul Foundation’s 76 grants was a $40,000 award to Shanta Link to support the Somali Youth Mental Health Project. The project will raise awareness about mental health issues and resources in the Somali community while reducing the cultural stigma surrounding mental health challenges among Somali refugees.

Of the 80 grants awarded by F. R. Bigelow Foundation, $50,000 was granted to Nexus Community Partners to develop the Center for Community Engagement. The Center will provide an arena for organizations and institutions to learn and practice authentic community engagement and create social change on the issues of race, power and privilege.

One of the 41 grants awarded by Mardag Foundation will give Breakthrough Twin Cities $10,000 to expand programming in Saint Paul. Breakthrough Twin Cities works with low-income middle and high school students, many students of color, to ensure academic success and prepare them for college and cultivate the next generation of diverse educators.

All three Foundations made grants totaling $95,000 to Rondo Avenue Inc. for the Rondo Commemorative Plaza. The Rondo Commemorative Plaza will create space for recognition of the African American community of Rondo through landscape design and on-site installations. Visitors will experience the neighborhood’s history, from its settlement and pre-1960s economic and political development to the disruption of the neighborhood during Interstate 94 construction and its current renewal.

About Minnesota Philanthropy Partners

The three Foundations are part of Minnesota Philanthropy Partners, which also includes Minnesota Community Foundation and more than 2,000 other charitable organizations and donor funds that are committed to solving complex community issues by strategically investing funds entrusted to the Foundations. Together, the Foundations and donors made $71 million in grants to nonprofits, projects and initiatives in the East Metro and across Minnesota in 2015.