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2021: A Year of Rebuilding

Art In This Present Moment art by Kazua Vang

Reimagining How We Support Our Community

While 2020 brought drastic change, 2021 presented us with opportunities to rethink, regroup and reflect on how to best do our work. We continued to respond to the pandemic and support the community in rebuilding after civil unrest, as well as partner with generous donors and innovative nonprofits.

The Foundation Staff on 2021

Hear our staff reflect on the progress we have made this year.

Responding to Community-Led Solutions Through Grantmaking

We are honored to invest in and partner with the agents and agencies of change who are working daily to address our most pressing issues.

In 2021 we granted $107 million to the community through our annual grantmaking, including grants recommended by our donors, to nearly all counties in Minnesota.


To communities by the Foundation and our partners

Grants Given

To organizations, initiatives and projects

Community Leadership

Frontline Families Fund Raises Nearly $2 Million

More than 3,600 donors across the country raised nearly $2 million to support the Frontline Families Fund. Launched in 2020 in partnership with epidemiologist Dr. Michael Osterholm, the fund provides direct financial support to families and scholarships for post-secondary education to the children of healthcare workers who have lost their lives to COVID-19.

Frontline Families Fund
Downtown Saint Paul skyline

Partnership to Address Disparities in Public Safety

At the Foundation we invest in community-led solutions. This means supporting issues that are important to Black and brown communities, such as addressing the disparities that exist in our justice system. The Ramsey County Public Safety Fund will primarily support Ramsey County’s initiative to reduce non-public safety-related traffic stops, which aims to build trust and safety in our community.

Lending Support to Afghan Refugees

In partnership with the Minnesota Council on Foundations and others, the Foundation invested in Operation Allies Welcome in Minnesota, a statewide effort to ensure more than 1,000 new Afghan arrivals have what they need to resettle. This support is part of a public-private partnership, with funding and volunteer aid from federal, state, individual and philanthropic sources.

Refugee mom and daughter at airport

Honoring Anti-Racism Activists

The 2021 Facing Race Awards aired across the state on Twin Cities Public television and honored four Minnesota anti-racism activists who are striving for justice and working to make this state more equitable for all.

Victoria Mc Wane Creek headshot for web
Victoria McWane-Creek
King Demetrius Pendleton headshot for web
KingDemetrius Pendleton
Valerie Shirley headshot for web
Valerie Shirley
Wokie Weah headshot for web
Wokie Weah

Inspiring Artistic Beauty in Our Community

This year, Art in This Present Moment supported six unique artists, selected by three partner arts organizations. Art In This Present Moment provides grants to support artists of color who are changing and challenging dominant narratives of their communities through their craft.

Donor-led Support

Our work wouldn’t be possible without our donors. Thank you for responding to the community’s needs with unparalleled generosity, recommending thousands of grants and millions of dollars to sustain community organizations like the ones shown below. We’re truly grateful for your continuous support, and we appreciate you.

Turning Goods into Gifts

The Foundation has developed robust and comprehensive capabilities to accept gifts of non-cash assets, such as cabins, farm equipment, businesses and more. Donating non-cash assets allows donors to make an impact on the causes they care about.

Lisa and Jerry O'Brien in front of artwork

“We were contemplating the sale of the real estate, but it had appreciated over the years,” said Jerry O’Brien, CEO of O’Brien-Staley Partners. “Rather than giving all of the funds to one institution, we wound up donating funds to the Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery, University of Minnesota's Weisman Art Museum, the University of Chicago and various Catholic charities.”

Read Lisa and Jerry’s story

“It was very difficult to find somebody that wanted to handle grain,” said farmer, John*.“The Foundation offered me a simpler way to do it, especially since I wanted to give to many different places. By doing it this way, I can actually build a fund and generate some disbursements later.”

Read John's story

Meet Our Board Members

Miguel Ramos

“There are different ways that you can talk about diversity, inclusion and equity, but the first thing is to break the stereotype,” said Miguel Ramos, senior director of diversity and inclusion strategy for the Minnesota Twins. “I try to encourage and motivate people to see people as people. And know that every human has different characteristics and is diverse.”

Meet Miguel
Miguel Ramos inside the Twins stadium

Nancy Lyons

“We spend a lot of time in this culture talking about diversity, but I wish we would talk more about inclusion and belonging and safety, '' said Nancy Lyons, CEO and co-founder of Clockwork. “Diversity happens when people feel included and like they belong. It is the byproduct or organic result of caring about people.”

Meet Nancy
Nancy Lyons headshot

Mary Jane Melendez

“My upbringing inspired me to choose a career where I can also put other people first,” said Mary Jane Melendez, chief sustainability and social impact officer for General Mills and president of the General Mills Foundation. “It taught me the importance of taking thoughtful but disciplined risks, and helped me to see the viewpoints of underrepresented communities, because voices that are not often heard can have the greatest contribution.”

Meet Mary Jane
Mary Jane Melendez

Diane Tran

“I’m grateful for the ways I can contribute to strengthening our community through our proud Minnesota tradition of high civic engagement and leadership, and to do so in a way that particularly creates opportunity for those traditionally excluded from systems and networks to be able fully engage in our communities,” said System Executive Director of Community Health, Equity and Engagement for M Health Fairview.

Meet Diane
Diane Tran Saint Paul Minnesota Foundation Board

I So Appreciate You! Podcast

This year the Foundation launched its first podcast, I So Appreciate You! The podcast is co-hosted by Foundation leaders Pahoua Yang Hoffman and Nadege Souvenir, who dig deep into topics related to work, culture and life. Episodes have covered issues such as work and caregiving, unspoken rules of professionalism and ageism in the workplace.

Nadege and Pahoua in studio 1 91 1

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