Which Minneapolis neighborhood has wonderful views of the downtown skyscape, a ready workforce and plentiful residential housing? North Minneapolis, home to more than 63,000 residents. The majority of residents are people of color, and poverty rates are high, which has influenced many in Minnesota’s white majority to view this neighborhood as one deserving of charity and access to social services. The Northside Funders Group, a coalition of foundations, has learned that the neighborhood actually wants business investment, coordinated action by policymakers to encourage these investments, and more urgent responses to strengthen the neighborhood’s underperforming schools.
Despite sometimes viscous opposition from within our community, making strange bedfellows of some civic personalities and republican adversaries of Black community empowerment, State Sens. Bobby Champion (D59) and Jeff Hayden (D62) prevailed in their single-minded tenacity to bring home the bacon.
If money equals power, then foundations wield a mighty force. And some of them are rethinking how they use it.
“There is an inherent power dynamic between funders and nonprofits,” said Kathleen Enright, president of Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, a national association of foundations that drew some 800 people to Minneapolis this week to talk about how to improve philanthropy.
Though white Europeans remain Minnesota’s largest demographic group, the state is more multicultural than at any point in the past. Estimates differ on when the state will become “majority minority,” but that milestone is likely to come before mid-century. In some counties, including Ramsey and Nobles, the under-20 demographic is already majority-minority.
Richard Copeland does not run a nonprofit foundation trying to change the world. He leads Thor Construction, the largest minority-owned business in the state of Minnesota and one of the largest black-owned businesses in the country. Yet he wants to do something about north Minneapolis.