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What Will it Take to Build an Equitable Minnesota?

First Steps in Launching Our New Program

This fall, McKnight announced a new program that seeks to advance a more equitable and inclusive Minnesota. The goal: Build a vibrant future for all Minnesotans with shared power, prosperity, and participation. We chose three focus areas: economic mobility, equitable development, and civic engagement, and we all agreed that advancing racial equity was central, not secondary, to building a Minnesota that works for everyone. To build this vibrant future, this new program will honor and build upon what we’ve learned from the work we’ve supported in the community over many years while making space for new ideas.

This new program emerged from a year of learning. We explored the specifics of Minnesota’s racial and economic disparities⁠—among the worst in the nation. We also explored the ways in which race, ethnicity, and zip code predict an individual or group’s experience with power, access to opportunity, and life outcomes. We asked hard questions about the past, present, and future of Minnesota and what our contributions have been and could be. We heard from leaders in Minnesota and across the country; we spoke to our peers in philanthropy; we did our research and we engaged in dialogue and debate with each other.

An Invitation to Our Valued Grantees, Partners, and Community Members

In the coming year, we will develop the strategies to shape and guide this new program. As we begin this phase, we will engage more deeply with grantees, partners, and others across the state. As a foundation, we recognize that to be truly effective, we must look beyond our Foundation walls.

By engaging more deeply with our grantees and partners, we hope to:

  • Demonstrate publicly our values of respect, equity, stewardship, and curiosity
  • Model an emerging practice in philanthropy that invites stakeholders in strategy development, a practice we hope to see often in our own work and elsewhere in the field
  • Merge firsthand community knowledge with information from research, local and national experts, and other partners

“As a foundation, we recognize that to be truly effective, we must look beyond our Foundation walls.”—KARA INAE CARLISLE, VICE PRESIDENT OF PROGRAMS

To achieve those aspirations, we will engage with grantees and partners over the next few months in these ways:

  • Seeking recommendations from the community
  • Supporting roundtable discussions and in-person engagement in Greater Minnesota and the Twin Cities
  • Conducting structured interviews with individual leaders, both locally and nationally
  • Supporting engagement with Indigenous communities

Share Your Ideas on How to Build an Equitable Minnesota

Update: the questionnaire closed on November 27, 2019.

As we work to develop strategies for our new program, we hope you will share your wisdom as a first step. We invite your insights and ideas to help us further shape the work of our three focus areas:

  • Advance economic mobility and close the wealth gap in Minnesota.
  • Practice equitable development in low-wealth communities and communities of color, ensuring these communities take part in directing and benefiting from new investments and policies.
  • Support a civic engagement infrastructure that builds the narratives, relationships, power, practices, and policies that ensure Minnesota is a state that works for everyone.

As we stated in our program announcement, we believe Minnesota is uniquely poised to be a state that works for all its residents—across race, culture, ethnicity, income, geography, and other differences. We are excited to engage with you on this program! We look forward to building a vibrant future for all Minnesotans, together. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

We will incorporate emerging insights from this process as we develop strategies for our new program in Minnesota. We will also share what we learn with the communities who participated, with the hope that elements of it can be useful to others as well.

Topic: Diversity Equity & Inclusion, Education, Region & Communities, Strategic Framework, Vibrant & Equitable Communities

November 2019