Grantees & Grantmaking | August 18, 2021

Building Equity: Q2 Grantees AEDS and Rural Organizing Project.

In the second quarter, 25 grantees received more than $5.7 million to expand economic opportunity and self-determination in their communities.

Sustainable change is best accomplished when long-standing inequities and broken systems are left behind.

Our grantees—Native Americans, communities of color, immigrants and refugees, and people in rural areas—are addressing immediate challenges while building a new normal in the resilient communities they serve.

They’re advancing financial inclusion and equity throughout our service region—Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and the 76 Native nations that share the same geography.

We’re thrilled to highlight two Q2 grantees whose work shares a commitment to equity, racial and social justice, and funding for often-overlooked groups and communities.

African Economic Development Solutions (AEDS) helps African immigrants build wealth and create sustainable jobs in and for their communities.

AEDS is a certified community development financial institution (CDFI) lender based in St. Paul. A three-year, $375,000 general operating grant will support its vision to increase the capacity of African immigrant entrepreneurs in the Twin Cities area. AEDS provides lending services, business development trainings, and culturally specific technical assistance.

Research indicates that African immigrant business owners experience persistent disparities in access to capital. That economic inequity was echoed in disparate barriers to their access to COVID-19 economic relief and recovery programs—a reality that makes them especially vulnerable to closing.

AEDS plans to continue its proven strategies of outreach, business coaching, and consulting for African immigrants in the Twin Cities, which expands their economic opportunity.

The mission of Rural Organizing Project (ROP) strengthens the skills and resources of grassroots groups’ leadership across Oregon.

ROP targets its resources toward a shared standard of human dignity: the belief in the equal worth of all people, the need for equal access to justice, and the right to self-determination.

A three-year, $300,000 general operating grant will support organization-wide efforts, including the Rural Media Center, which is working to address a gap in accurate and accessible media in small towns and rural areas across the state. A monthly podcast, Rural Roots Rising, created by and for rural Oregonians, is one part of that effort.

Over the three-year grant period, ROP aims to remain strategically agile in responding to the evolving needs of the communities it serves, strengthen its infrastructure across the state, and build capacity for its more than 80 associated human dignity groups.

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