We’re lucky to have the Minneapolis Foundation, one of the first community organizations in the world, as an ongoing supporter of Twin Cities Startup Week. By administering charitable funds, investing grant making resources and helping shape public policy, the Minneapolis Foundation helps spark positive change in our community.
Over the last 100 years, the Minneapolis Foundation has administered over 1,400 charitable funds and donates $70 million annually in grants to communities in Minneapolis.
Lately, they’ve been focused on helping communities of color and BIPOC-led businesses that have been economically affected by COVID-19 and the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd, through two key funds.
After a billion-dollar stadium for the Minnesota Vikings was approved by the Legislature in 2012, the Minneapolis Foundation created the Working Capital Loan Fund in 2014 to focus on bringing minority-owned construction companies to the project.
A three-year, $1 million dollar loan made to the Metropolitan Economic Development Association, the Working Capital Loan Fund had created 181 jobs via nine loans to minority-owned construction companies by October 2015.
With the reuse-and-recycle approach — as loans are repaid, these funds are put back into the organization to be redeployed to others in need — the Minneapolis Foundation was finding success in the fund.
All loans were performing, and returns were made back to donors on their investment.
“This became the base for us to say, we’re having success,” said Jo-Anne Stately, Director for Impact Strategy, Economic Vitality. “We said, ‘We should just make this a permanent fund.’”
Hence the creation of InvestMPLS, the Minneapolis Foundation’s impact investing program. With key focuses on creating living-wage jobs, creating high-quality seats at Minneapolis schools serving low-income students of color, and creating and preserving affordable housing in the community, the program has deployed just over $6 million as of summer 2020.
“It’s been a good investment from the standpoint of investing in these communities, we have a specific mission to do that,” said Stately.
And, for donors, since the fund deploys loans and not grants, they get a small return on investment. With the reuse-and-recycle approach used in InvestMPLS, the return that the foundation receives goes right back into the fund.
“We continue to work with this strategy of creating jobs, creating access to loans,” said Stately. “Access to low-interest capital is the greatest request [these] businesses have.”
With the rise of COVID-19 and civil unrest following the killing of George Floyd, Stately mentioned that “demand is really significant,” which led the foundation to create another fund to specifically address this.
OneMPLS Rebuild Fund
Minneapolis Foundation’s OneMPLS Rebuild Fund was created specifically to provide flexible resources to organizations that support BIPOC-led Minneapolis businesses.
“It’s supposed to be very nimble and responsive,” said Stately, mentioning that with the pandemic and civic uprisings, it was a priority for the foundation to address basic needs and work with specific populations.
In the first round, they raised close to $2 million in four weeks. “It’s continuous and rapid, we’re really just trying to get those grants out,” she said.
The second round is out now: applications opened on July 23 and will close at 1:00pm on August 17. Decisions on who will receive grants are to be made by September 9, 2020.
The Minneapolis Foundation is a headline partner of TCSW 2020 and continued supporter of our active startup ecosystem. Participate in the collaboration of organizations like this across the community by registering for TCSW 2020 here.
Founders and entrepreneurs can also continue to work closely with organizations like this by participating in a BETA cohort. Apply for the fall cohort here.
BETA is a 501(c)(3) organization that develops Minnesota’s next generation of business leaders by inspiring and educating first-time founders. The BETA Group supports startups and small businesses with great scalability potential, so that they can grow to become our next Fortune 100s. Learn more