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.
Community Impact Through Four Levers
Our shared strategy is inspired and shaped by ideas and lessons from the community, from one another, and from experts in the field.
We’ve been able to leverage the strength of our membership to benefit North Minneapolis by attracting additional investments and attention for the promising work happening here.
We channel our influence and the wisdom of this community to drive policies, practices, and investments that build upon North Minneapolis assets and strengthen the vitality of this community.
Each year our members invest more than $15 million in North Minneapolis. By changing the way philanthropy works in North Minneapolis, we are aligning those resources to get the biggest and best return for this community.
We apply a three-pronged investment strategy to catalyze comprehensive and sustainable change in our two Priority Focus Areas. Funders may pursue different investment entry points toward a mutual goal.
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.
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.
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.
Priority Focus Areas
A Focused Approach to Sustainable Progress
We’ve developed a laser-sharp approach to comprehensive community growth that reflects our emphasis on two priority focus areas to effect change: Education and Wealth Building and Prosperity. Northside Funders Group members are eager to lift up the natural assets that exist in North Minneapolis to strengthen the entire region and ensure that this community is not left out of economic prosperity and opportunity. With a race equity lens across our funding areas, we make it a priority to fund organizations and/or projects that are led and primarily serve Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.
Investing in academic success gives students the support they need to achieve great things in school and community, at work, and throughout life. The committee has agreed on these four key priority areas:
Teacher/Principal Pipelines, Retention & Training
Organization Capacity-Building (mainly BIPOC-led)
Policy Advocacy/Systems Change
Our current work is focused on parent engagement and a partnership with Minneapolis Public Schools utilizing their Parent Participatory Evaluation (PPE) process. We are currently not inviting organizations to apply for funds. Our grant-making work is inclusive of North Minneapolis parents/families that will partner with NFG to make grant decisions.
Community Wealth Building
The Northside ecosystem is made up of many sole proprietors and micro-businesses (those with five or less employees) that are primarily Black, Indigenous, and People of Color owned and operated. These small businesses are vital to the economic growth and prosperity North Minneapolis needs and deserves.
Investing in the growth and sustainability of a local economy that centers and benefits Northside residents requires a holistic approach, which includes business owners, entrepreneurs, employer/employee relationships, no-profits, government, the private sector, and residents. We recognize the intersection in each of the aspects of economic growth, and strive to ensure that it is recognized in our funding strategy.
To achieve this, we focus on these specific priority areas:
Entrepreneurship and small business development, specifically focused on the microbusiness, is needed to not only create wealth building opportunities for the North Minneapolis community, but also to create a thriving ecosystem that endures and grows. Microbusinesses make up almost 90 percent of the nation’s businesses and make up an even higher proportion in low-wealth communities, like North Minneapolis.
Technical assistance and infrastructure support to start-up and incubate a business is critical, but even more so, technical assistance to sustain the business is essential to weather unanticipated shifts and demands for services. Having access to a network of peers, experts, and advocates helps business owners weather changes in the landscape that are often outside of their control. Making pivots and being flexible and nimble are part of the viability of a business.
Apply for Funding
The Opportunity Fund is available to support initiatives or organizations that are working within our two strategic priorities: Education and Community Wealth Building.
We are interested in community-driven, collaborative ways to achieve a healthier, vibrant community for all who live, work, and own businesses in North Minneapolis.
The Opportunity Fund is one-time funding to catalyze or seed an initiative or project. We do not provide multi-year grants and our fund is relatively small.