Skip to main content

Communities are receiving critical support to get through the coronavirus pandemic.

When the Minnesota Disaster Recovery Fund for coronavirus (MDRF) launched in March, donors responded quickly and gave generously.

In total, 85 donors gave $11.5 million to the fund, which was established by the Minnesota Council on Foundations in partnership with the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation.

Starting in March, MDRF grants were allocated to other foundations and intermediaries who could redistribute the funds to meet the direct needs of their communities. To date, the MDRF has awarded 67 grants totaling $7.92 million.

Here are four examples of organizations that have used MDRF grants for important community needs:

The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) Minnesota, in partnership with Propel Nonprofits as its financial management partner, received $200,000 to support mosques and centers so that they could remain a supportive community resource.

The funding meant 43 mosques received $4,500 each. Many of the funded mosques and centers − located throughout the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota − support populations hardest hit by coronavirus, including East African immigrants living at or below the poverty line.

The funding enabled the mosques to continue operating despite financial challenges posed by the pandemic, supporting their communities through services like food shelves, mental health care and awareness building and education around coronavirus.

“At least 30,000 people were probably impacted by this grant,” said Jaylani Hussein, executive director of CAIR-MN. “If we had not received this immediate support and boost to the mosques, many of them could have shuttered and it would have created a lot of pressure on lower-income families who rely on the mosques for support and information.

The Catholic Community Foundation of Minnesota received $100,000 to support families in Catholic parishes, including immigrants who are not eligible for government support and are disproportionately affected by coronavirus. Parishes’ ability to support the needs of this population on their own was limited by decreased income due to church closures.

As a result of the MDRF funding, individual families received funding of up to $400 to help with medication, rent, food and utilities.

Estela Villagran-Manancero, Director of the Office of Latino Ministry in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis and former president of the National Catholic Association of Diocesan Directors of Hispanic Ministry, said, “In deploying the grants, we turned around and I don’t think it even took 10 days until the funds were granted out to start helping people right away. … I don’t know what these families and individuals would have done without it.”

Anne Cullen Miller, president of the Catholic Community Foundation of Minnesota, said, “It is support that really has made a difference in the lives of people and community.”

It is support that really has made a difference in the lives of people and community.

Anne Cullen Miller

White Earth Housing Authority received $100,000 to help tenants reduce their debt and get caught up on utility bills. This enabled tenants to keep their power on as they came off the cold-weather rules that prevent utility companies from disconnecting customers from heat sources during the cold-weather months.

    The funding, which directly covered utility costs, went to families and individuals of the White Earth Tribal Nation living in 445 low-rent housing units. Tenants who were elders were given $300 as they are often on low, fixed incomes. The remaining grant dollars were split among the other rental units, which each received $213.

    Virginia Anderson, assistant housing director for White Earth Housing Authority, said, “I had only requested $32,000 and I was targeting our tribal members that are elders … When we were offered $100,000, which was phenomenal, we were able to provide assistance to all of our tenants.” She added, “Right now, our casino is closed down because of the pandemic and a lot of employees up there went onto unemployment or lost their jobs. We’re all working towards getting everyone back to work, but it’s going to take time.”

    Springboard for the Arts received funds through MDRF in support of its own Coronavirus Emergency Relief Fund for artists, culture bearers and creative workers in Minnesota.

      A second MDRF grant is being used towards technical assistance and support for the Rural Recovery Network, a year-long program for over 100 rural arts leaders, organizations, and artists to share resources, skills, and cross-sector collaborations.

      As of May 27, Springboard’s relief fund had supported 1,474 people with $715,000.

      This Present Moment

      For more stories about how people across Minnesota are facing the challenges of 2020 with hope, resilience and generosity, visit This Present Moment.

      More Stories

      Four Lessons Learned From Analyzing Our Grantmaking

      Here’s how the Foundation is advocating for equity by updating our grantmaking methodology.

      Learn More

      Ramsey County Public Safety Fund

      New fund will support Ramsey County’s initiative to reduce non-public safety-related traffic stops.

      Learn More

      Gift Bunching: A Way to Maximize Your Charitable Impact

      With a technique known as gift bunching, you can maintain your charitable impact while realizing potential tax benefits.

      Watch the video

      The Value of Community Engagement

      Board Member Feature: How Diane Tran’s experiences at the intersection of people and place led to a career in community engagement.

      Learn More

      Getting-Back-Together at the Minnesota State Fair

      In this guest blog post, Mary Chung and Shana Zaiser of the Minnesota State Fair Foundation share how one of Minnesota’s most treasured cultural traditions has adapted with optimism.

      Read the post

      Grantmaking 101

      Learn how the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation invests in community-led solutions through grant opportunities.

      Learn More

      Foundations Announce Nearly $8 Million in Community Grants

      The Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation, F. R. Bigelow Foundation and the Mardag Foundation today announced that they have awarded nearly $8 million to Minnesota nonprofits through their latest round of grants.

      Read the News

      Values-based Investing: What It Is and How We Do It

      Chief Investment Officer Shannon O’Leary discusses how the Foundation’s investment strategy promotes equity.

      Watch the video



      * Indicates a required field