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How We're Responding to Community Needs During COVID-19

steps we are taking to fulfill our purpose to inspire generosity, advocate for equity and invest in community-led solutions during these challenging times

Published March 31, 2020, updated April 22, 2020

To Our Community –

As we care for our families and communities under Minnesota’s “stay at home” order, the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation remains active in responding to community needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Having heard from many of you — our grantees, donors and community partners — we want to share the many steps we are taking to fulfill our purpose to inspire generosity, advocate for equity and invest in community-led solutions during these challenging times.

Inspiring Generosity: The Heart of Minnesota Shines Through

Minnesota Disaster Recovery Fund issues first grants

We established the Minnesota Disaster Recovery Fund (MDRF) for coronavirus with the Minnesota Council on Foundations. The fund launched with $4.4 million in contributions from many philanthropic partners, and has since grown to more than $11 million. The MDRF advisory committee, made up of leaders from across the state, has made three rounds of grants, awarding more than $6 million to organizations throughout Minnesota. The advisory committee meets weekly to advise and recommend additional grants to address ongoing needs statewide.

Saint Paul Bridge Fund created to support Saint Paul

We partnered with the City of Saint Paul to set up the Saint Paul Bridge Fund, which will provide emergency relief for the small businesses and families in our community who need it most.

Donors respond to community needs

We want to thank our donors for their ongoing generosity. Our fundholders have recommended more than $12 million in grants from donor advised funds in the first quarter, including to the MDRF.

Investing In Community-led Solutions: Supporting Our Nonprofit Partners

Providing the community with flexibility

We trust our communities to know what they need and have been inspired by the nonprofit sector’s innovation and resilience during this time. Grantees and current applicants now have the opportunity to redirect current and requested grant dollars to more pressing needs, or to delay programming and use the funding for future needs.

Repurposing Narrative Change Grants to respond to community

This year we announced four new Narrative Change grants of $50,000 each for organizations, to be given in conjunction with our annual Facing Race Awards. We have decided to postpone this grant making and instead make these funds available to provide additional, flexible relief for the pressures we know this pandemic has placed on many nonprofit organizations.

Community Sharing Fund

Our Community Sharing Fund continues to partner with social service agencies across the East Metro to provide emergency grants to individuals and families navigating financial setbacks, paying special attention to the unique needs and challenges arising at this time.

We have also gathered a list of resources for nonprofits, which details our response and additional funding opportunities.

Advocating for Equity: Standing With Our AAPI Community

The accounts of racist acts toward Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have plagued our community and touched some of our staff members. We stand in solidarity with those who are experiencing this racism and encourage our neighbors to care for one another from a place of understanding and unity rather than a place of fear.

Lastly we wanted to be sure that our nonprofit partners are aware that under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) nonprofits are eligible for emergency loans up to $10 million — which may be forgiven if used for certain circumstances like payroll. Visit the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits website to learn more about this and other available resources.

As I reflect on what’s ahead, I think about shared value; about how nonprofits in this state have made it through two world wars, a depression and countless other disasters. Each and every time the creativity and resilience of our nonprofit sector, joined with the generosity of this state’s philanthropy, has helped us get to the other side.

None of us knows what tomorrow will bring, but hour by hour, as I witness our community stand together, I grow more hopeful that we are on track to emerge as a more united Minnesota.

Eric J. Jolly, Ph.D.
President and CEO

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