A number of foundations and other funders who have been deeply invested in North Minneapolis for many years have not seen the change they’d like to see in that community, Northside Funders Group Executive Director Tawanna Black states. The funders decided they needed to work differently and to get to know each other to better understand places of overlap, challenges and gaps. After meeting informally for six years, 20 foundations and other funders formed the Northside Funders Group (NFG) collaborative in 2013.
“We’re going to stay here. But we want to get bigger impact.” – Tawanna Black
On this episode of the Fast Forward podcast, Tawanna Black sits down to talk about the work it takes to build a partnership with the public sector like she has done between the Northside Funders Group and the city of Minneapolis. She discusses how to get at changing the way philanthropy works inside public sector institutions beyond just policy change but also helping reshape how they do grant making. She shares the four levers of the work of the Northside Funders Group, dives into the very real challenges of sustainability and speaks openly about how to keep fear of failing from preventing risk taking.
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.