Grantees & Grantmaking | March 2, 2022

Q4 and 2021 Grantees Reflect Our New Grantmaking Approach Advancing Racial, Social, and Economic Justice.

During 2021’s final quarter, we awarded 68 grants totaling more than $3 million—bringing last year’s overall grantmaking to more than $20.5 million in 172 grants.

In continuing to respond to two years of continued pandemic and other crises, the Foundation approved a new approach toward its grantmaking in November 2021. This new approach refocuses our ongoing efforts to support grantees that are toppling barriers, changing systems, and finding equitable solutions to long-standing problems.

As Program Director Karla Miller outlines in her recent video and blog, our new grantmaking approach prioritizes helping organizations implement their self-determined strategies for changing systems and overcoming barriers to shared prosperity.

That’s how the Foundation can be a meaningful participant in supporting racial, social, and economic justice across the eight states and 76 Native nations of our region.

It’s also how we can best help our priority communities—Native Americans, communities of color, immigrants and refugees, and people in rural areas—achieve meaningful and lasting change.

And that’s what many of our 2021 grantees are already working toward—because their work and insights informed our approach. They reflect the major themes of our new approach, although we’re still developing a number of the specifics.

Among these grantees are:

Northside Economic Opportunity Network (NEON), a catalyst for a thriving local economy, serving diverse and ambitious entrepreneurs in Minneapolis’s north side.

NEON client, Florence Karp, founder of Chef Flo-K Foods; Photo courtesy of NEON

A three-year, $750,000 grant awarded in Q4 will help NEON increase its staff (including a loan officer, a CFO, and three business advisors to serve entrepreneurs), purchase and renovate the building it occupies, and build a commercial kitchen to serve as a food-business incubator and community resource.

These moves will help NEON build its capacity to serve more entrepreneurs in north Minneapolis, home to many Black, Indigenous, or people of color (BIPOC) entrepreneurs who can thrive when they gain investments they’ve long been denied. NEON’s proven community approach focuses on individual mobility as the first step toward long-term entrepreneurial success—and, by extension, community stability.

Headwaters Foundation for Justice (HFJ), a community-based foundation in Minneapolis, supports organizations across the state that are working on the front lines of social change and justice.

HFJ Giving Project panel; Photo courtesy of Min Enterprises

HFJ is using the Foundation’s two-year, $400,000 grant from the first quarter of 2021 to support staffing and operating expenses, and to strengthen The Transformation Fund.

Established in 1984, HFJ’s fundraising and grantmaking puts decisions in the hands of BIPOC community members—embracing the belief that those experiencing society’s injustices should be centered in all efforts to transform society. HFJ has decades of experience investing in organizations that challenge systems of oppression and pave the way to an inclusive, safe, and just Minnesota for everyone.

Seattle-based Social Justice Fund NW (SJF) funds grassroots community organizing across the Northwest that promotes social change to help foster an equitable society.

Photo courtesy of Social Justice Fund NW

SJF is using part of a three-year, $750,000 grant for general operating expenses and for regranting through its Giving Projects program, an educational series that culminates in community-led grantmaking. The Giving Projects will prioritize BIPOC-led organizations and organizations in Idaho and Montana.

As funders to frontline organizations, both HFJ and SJF are in a position to provide resources to BIPOC organizations addressing some of the root causes of centuries of injustice in our country—and educate individual donors to have more awareness of how their own biases can fuel the status quo.

The grants to HFJ and SJF are part of the second year of our two-year, $4 million Crisis Response initiative.

Our crisis response grants come from grant dollars beyond the amount budgeted for 2020 and 2021. The grants allow us to more nimbly respond to the multiple crises of the COVID-19 pandemic, social unrest, and political and financial instability that disproportionately affect the well-being of our priority communities.

The HFJ and SJF grants are the largest crisis response grants for 2021, and they’re representative of our focus on helping established organizations serve their communities in the ways they know work.

PHOTO TOP: HFJ Giving Project cohort; Photo courtesy of Fotos for Barcelona

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