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News Release: McKnight approves over $30 million in fourth quarter of 2011

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The McKnight Foundation awarded 118 grants totaling $30,381,000 in its fourth-quarter 2011 grantmaking.

Of the $30 million total approved, a two-year grant of $10 million went to Youthprise, an out-of-school time funding partner based in the Twin Cities established by McKnight in 2011. The culmination of nearly two years of research, analysis, conversations, and planning, the organization launched in August. Led by president Wokie Weah, with the stated mission to champion learning beyond the classroom so that all Minnesota’s youth thrive, Youthprise strives to realize the vision that Minnesota will lead the nation in accelerating leadership and innovation beyond the classroom.

“This major investment is a testament to two things,” says Kate Wolford, McKnight’s president. “First, to McKnight’s belief in the value of quality opportunities for learning beyond the classroom for Minnesota’s youth. Second, and more importantly, to our belief that Youthprise is well positioned to lead this field and to make a powerfully positive impact on the scope and quality of those opportunities for kids in our communities in the short- and long-term future.”

McKnight’s Board of Directors

The Foundation has elected a new chair and two new members to its board of directors, changes which took effect at the turn of the year.

Ted Staryk was elected chair of The McKnight Foundation board of directors, becoming the Foundation’s sixth chair since it was established in 1953. Staryk succeeds Robert J. Struyk, elected in 2009, who completed his three-year term at the close of 2011. Staryk has been a member of McKnight’s board of directors since 2004, and has served on McKnight’s investment committee and as the Foundation’s treasurer. He is also a partner at CNote Management Company in Minneapolis, and owner of the Snake River Brewery in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He has a bachelor of science degree in kinesiology from the University of Minnesota, and previously worked six years in the player personnel department of the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers. Staryk lives in the Twin Cities with his wife Noa, a fourth-generation McKnight board member, and their two children.

Joining McKnight’s board is Robert Bruininks, president emeritus of the University of Minnesota. Bruininks is a professor in the Center for Integrative Leadership in the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, where he works on issues of public leadership, human capital, and higher education policy. From 2002 to 2011, Bruininks served as president of the University of Minnesota. Previously, his academic career centered on child and adolescent development and policy research, and strategic improvement in the fields of pre-kindergarten to grade 12 and higher education. Bruininks has served on the NCAA Division I Board, as chair of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), and he was a presidential appointment to the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board until 2009.

Debby Landesman, who has over 25 years of experience in philanthropy and the nonprofit sector, has joined the board of directors as well. She currently operates a consulting business which works with foundation and corporate clients on philanthropic strategy, program design, and community engagement. Previously, Landesman was the executive director of the Levi Strauss Foundation in San Francisco, and also worked as a senior program officer at the Kresge Foundation in Detroit. She did her undergraduate work at Notre Dame University and holds a graduate degree from the Washington University School of Engineering in St. Louis. Landesman was also awarded a three-year fellowship through the Kellogg Leadership Program. She is married to Rocco Landesman, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts.

The McKnight Foundation seeks to improve the quality of life for present and future generations through grantmaking, collaboration, and encouragement of strategic policy reform. Founded in 1953 and independently endowed by William and Maude McKnight, the Minnesota-based Foundation had assets of approximately $1.9 billion and granted about $96 million in 2010.

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Tim Hanrahan
, Communications Director, 612-333-4220