Northside Funders Group

Levers for Change

Community Impact Through Four Levers

Our work is about broadening the definition and context of meaningful, place based philanthropy. We stretch beyond our traditional ways of working through a four-pronged approach: learning, leveraging, influencing and investing. We embrace individual funder’s approaches and consider collaborative strategies wherever possible for greater impact, aligning our goals with those of the community partners who work for comprehensive change in north Minneapolis.


A zest for understanding lies at the intersection of place-based philanthropy and collective impact. Making the smartest investment decisions requires shifting out of the power seat into the seat of a learner and observer. We want to learn about the way change happens in North Minneapolis, the innate assets of the North Minneapolis community that can provide a foundation for progress, and the best and most energizing practices that can propel our vision.


As we take advantage of opportunities to increase funder knowledge about best and most energizing practices, the local and regional landscape, and barriers to program success through our unique Together in Learning model. We create intentional, inclusive and innovative spaces for funders and community leaders to learn and co-create transformative, collective impact agendas. To date, we have engaged over 180 cross-sector leaders and their ideas are driving our impact strategies in our three Priority Focus Areas



We use the depth and breadth of Northside Funders Group knowledge, commitment and investments in North Minneapolis to attract additional local and national funding opportunities and to engage partners and investors in innovative approaches with long-term commitments.

Family-Academy-IT_21_NAZNAZ – Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Forward Promise Community Partnership Grant for Improving Health for Boys & Men of Color — When the Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ) wanted to attract a national funder to support ground-breaking work to close economic opportunity gaps for boys and young men of color, they thought of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). And when RWJF wanted to know that their investment could be amplified by local funder partnerships and investments, NAZ thought of the Northside Funders Group.We partnered with NAZ to host a funders site visit, allowing RWJF to explore opportunities for synergy, co-funding, and alignment of resources with our members. The partnership also allowed RWJF to share best practices in designated resources for programs focusing on boys and men of color.


We apply our unique knowledge of North Minneapolis to create systemic change and influence policy makers to prioritize economic, educational, and social investments in North Minneapolis. As local and regional policy makers prioritize investments and program strategies, we share the potential return on investment that the entire region will experience when we prioritize equity for North Minneapolis.

XR8A0535Our staff and members advocate for North Minneapolis and influence policy and investment decisions with the Partnership for Regional Opportunity, Northside Achievement Zone, Penn Avenue Community Works Project, Itasca Leadership Co-Hort, MSP-WIN, Minneapolis Public Schools and many others. Knowing that you’re not investing alone, but alongside a committed and highly engaged group of funders lowers the risk, and increases the possibilities for success.


We apply a three-pronged investment strategy to catalyze comprehensive and sustainable change in our three Priority Focus Areas. Funders may pursue different investment entry points toward a mutual goal. The three investment strategies include:

  1. Co-Targeted Investments: Northside Funders Group members deliberately, but independently make a grant to the same program, project or organization. While this approach is fragmented, it provides investments that are responsive to emergent community opportunities and needs.
  2. Aligned Investments: Multiple Northside Funders Group members intentionally support a specific strategy or organization in pursuit of a common goal through fiscal or human capital investments. We consider investments that advance strategies and priorities identified by our Workgroups and Priority Focus Area Network.
  3. Pooled Investing-Opportunity Fund: Through the Opportunity Fund, Northside Funders Group invests in emergent opportunities that demonstrate potential to catalyze comprehensive, sustainable change in North Minneapolis. We actively seek out innovative ways for community partners to come together collaboratively around work that has potential for high impact benefits for people and place.

DEED Workforce Center

deedNorthside Funders Group invested $27,500 to provide technical assistance, strategic guidance, along with financial support, to the Workforce Center Community Advisory Committee and three designated Community Based Organizations to conduct a robust and inclusive community engagement process that will help the project move forward while leveraging needed community benefits. This investment was aligned to the DEED North Minneapolis Workforce Center Relocation. The results of this strategic engagement process, led by Northside Funders Group member Nexus Community Partners, include a more connected and informed community, and a mechanism for creating systemic change by leading with the voice of those most impacted.

XR8A3152 Northside Job Creation Team  

The Northside Job Creation Team (NSJCT) is a collaboration representing the University of Minnesota’s Urban Research & Engagement Outreach Center (UROC), the City of Minneapolis DEED, Governor’s Urban Initiatives Board, Minneapolis Public Schools, Minneapolis Urban League, Pillsbury United Communities and the local business and faith communities, all focused on attracting 1,000 living wage and sustainable jobs to North Minneapolis by 2018. The Northside Funders Group has invested in the work of NSJCT in order to accelerate business viability research and to catalyze the market by creating a pipeline of businesses who can consider relocating to this community.



Northside Funders Group has three priority focus areas for sustainable progress >>
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