- Assets: $763,605,302 (2017)
- Grants Received: $104,194,055 (2017)
- Grants Awarded: $69,409,110 (2017)
Established in 1915, the Minneapolis Foundation (MF) is one of America’s oldest and largest community foundations. A community foundation:
- is generally funded by a combination of corporate sponsors, grants from private foundations, and individual donors;
- awards grants via two principal methods: (1) direct grantmaking programs that are administered by the foundation, and (2) donor-advised funds that are administered by the foundation, but for which grants are recommended by the original donors — e.g., local families, individuals, businesses, and nonprofit groups — who established the funds.
MF’s Donor-Advised Funds (DAF) permit the donors themselves to specify exactly where their money will go (and to retain anonymity, if they wish, so as to avoid being publicly associated with the grantees). MF maintains final say over all grant awards, however.
MF also allows donors to give money through its Signature Fund program, which is designed for DAFs that offer “a higher level of customized philanthropic support” from advisors within the Foundation, than the typical DAF. Further, this program permits donors to give money under the aegis of their own family foundations — i.e., they can attach their own name, or “signature,” to their grants.
In addition, MF has a Community Action Funds program that leaves all grantmaking decisions in the hands of the Foundation’s program staff and Board Committee. Another MF program, known as its Field of Interest Funds, allows donors to specify their general area of charitable interest while letting the Foundation decide which particular organizations should receive money.
MF also has a Planned Giving program, whereby donors can arrange to bequeath to the Foundation (upon their death) such assets as securities, real estate, and retirement plan funds. MF’s Legacy Funds program, meanwhile, pools the charitable gifts of various donors, invests them for the long term, and makes annual grant distributions to organizatons whose agendas are congruent with those of the Foundation.
Viewing the United States as a nation rife with injustices, MF focuses much of its philanthropy on groups seeking to rectify the “social inequities that exist related to poor people, people of color, women, individuals with disabilities, or gays and lesbians.” Former CEO Emmett Carson has expressed the Foundation’s view that blacks and Mexicans in America have historically been, and continue to be, “subjected to capricious and racist government policies.”
By MF’s reckoning, America’s inherent tendency toward racism has likewise inflicted a great deal of pain on Muslims and Arabs in the U.S. in recent years. For example, the Foundation characterized many of the federal government’s post-9/11 anti-terrorism measures as racist assaults on the civil rights and liberties of immigrants. In 2005 MF impugned federal and local policies that sought, in the name of national security, to “regulate [the] immigration, documentation, and mobility” of newcomers to America. Along those lines, the Foundation objected to the fact that “male temporary visitors from more than a dozen Muslim countries—most of them in the Middle East—have been photographed and fingerprinted by the federal government.” Noting that “policy debates about national-security and human and civil rights are often emotional and divisive,” MF claimed that “in some respects, this is reminiscent of the anti-German and Japanese campaigns during the First and Second World Wars.”
MF’s current areas of grantmaking include: the arts, sciences, education, health, housing, religion, immigration, and the environment. The Foundation’s major programs are:
* One Minneapolis: Aiming to transform Minneapolis into a city “without inequities,” MF favors a mandatory “living wage” for all workers; emphasizes the need for children to “have caring adults outside of their family” who will help them “gain the skills needed for a productive, rewarding life”; and suggests that everyone should be able to “enjoy the security of an affordable home.” But “today’s reality is a far cry from that vision,” says MF, noting that “we see deep racial disparities across some of the most fundamental measures of a decent, healthy and productive life.” In MF’s view, these disparities are the by-products of American society’s deep structural flaws.
* Education: Lamenting that Minnesota has “a 35% disparity in graduation rates between white and black students” as well as “the nation’s lowest high-school graduation rates for Latino and Native students,” this MF program aims to “increase the number of high-performing schools serving low-income students of color.” It also funds groups that strive to “increase access to high-quality early childhood education,” on the premise that “one of the most effective ways to reduce the dropout rate is to begin working with children and their families during the pre-kindergarten years.”
* Economic Vitality: To help cultivate “a competitive and inclusive workforce” where “all communities are employed at equal and competitive rates,” and where “small businesses run by people of color grow and flourish,” MF funds organizations and programs that: “increase workforce preparedness”; “build community wealth”; “strengthen the delivery of financial and technical assistance to minority-owned businesses”; and “advocate for improved policies and public sector programs that impact workforce development.” Of particular concern to MF is the wide “gap in unemployment between blacks and whites” in the Twin Cities metro area.
* Civic Engagement: In an effort to help “all communities participate in our democracy and in public decision making,” this program works to ensure that “communities of color have strong leadership and representation in all sectors” and are thus able to “influence public policy.” Toward that end, the Foundation seeks to “increase the number of people of color who vote”; “strengthen leadership development and organizing capacity in diverse communities”; and “remove barriers to voting.” In particular, MF opposes the enactment of Voter ID laws, depicting them as tools for the disenfranchisement of nonwhite minorities.
* Health & Environment: MF asserts that “supporting our city’s rich river history, ensuring [that] families have access to affordable housing, and creating accessible public transportation options are just a few of the things that make a community healthy.” To drive home the point that too many people in Minneapolis continue to suffer economically, the Foundation laments that “children of color make up 93 percent” of all the city’s youngsters who live in poverty; that nonwhite children in Minneapolis “are nearly six times more likely to live in high-poverty areas [than] their white peers.”; and that “only 21% of low-income households in Minneapolis have affordable housing.”
* Arts & Culture: In 2013 alone, MF donors gave $13 million to arts programs in Minnesota, including theater, dance, and music, among others.
Among the more noteworthy recipients of Minneapolis Foundation grants are such organizations as ACORN (now defunct), Centro Campesino, the Council on Foundations, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, ISAIAH, the League of Women Voters, the NAACP, the National Immigration Forum, National Public Radio, Planned Parenthood, the Ploughshares Fund, the Public Broadcasting Corporation, State Voices; the Trust for Public Land, and the Wilderness Society.
To view a list of additional noteworthy grantees of the Minneapolis Foundation, click here.