The E-Newsletter for Minnesota Philanthropists

Dear Bruce,

Have you had a moment to read our February MNSights e-newsletter yet? Scroll down for a snapshot of a nonprofit empowering local mothers and their children, a Q&A with Super Bowl LII vice president of legacy and community partnerships Dana Nelson, and date nights that benefit others.

Warm wishes,

Eric J. Jolly
Eric J. Jolly, Ph.D.
President and CEO, Minnesota Philanthropy Partners
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MNSights, the E-Newsletter for Minnesota Philanthropists

A community-informed approach

  Eric Jolly  

At the root of a thriving community lies connectedness. However, it’s never been easier to insulate ourselves from others’ experiences and ideas. Technology lets us limit our contact to people who look, act and think like us. We see the results of social and intellectual isolation and the inability to relate and listen with empathy every day.
As philanthropists, a key legacy we can pass to our children is the gift of being in community with neighbors who have different backgrounds, day-to-day experiences and perspectives. In coming months, you’ll begin to hear results of The Saint Paul Foundation’s new East Metro Pulse survey and report, a snapshot of community connectedness. We surveyed thousands of residents to gauge how they experience community, and the daily challenges and opportunities they encounter. 
This report will be our gift to philanthropists and community agents of change as well as a driving force behind our grantmaking. To effect positive change, we believe those affected by our work as philanthropists must also be part of forming and informing the work we do. East Metro Pulse is one way we’re informed by our community in the work of building community.

—Eric J. Jolly, Ph.D., President and CEO, The Saint Paul Foundation & Minnesota Community Foundation
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Nonprofit to Know
Nonprofit to Know
Empowered Mothers, Stronger Families

As a mother of eight, Alfreda Flowers made sure that family dinners were a regular event. “We had a table for the big kids, and a table for the little kids so we could all fit,” she said. Now as founder and executive director of Family Values for Life, she is dedicated to bringing that same sense of connectedness to other families across the East Metro. “We are trying to introduce those values that are conducive to sitting down and sharing a meal together,” she said.
In 2016, with support from The Saint Paul Foundation, F. R. Bigelow Foundation and Mardag Foundation, Family Values for Life expanded its Jump Start to the New You program for 60 local mothers, a two-year series of weekly professional workshops, covering goal setting, financial literacy, nutrition, image, personal development and more. Each Wednesday night from September to May, mothers and their children gather for a family-style meal. The women then attend workshops designed to help them advance their lives and careers while their children receive homework help.
“We hear from the women, ‘This is my new sisterhood,’” said Flowers, who is known as Mother Flowers to the group. “All of them are working to make positive changes in their lives.” Mothers who thrive in the program pay it forward by becoming trained mentors to other moms.
For many, the program has been a turning point in their lives. One participant wrote, “Since coming here I was able to take back my life, my dignity, my pride, and my sense of my self-worth. I have been able to fully control what goes on in my life as well as my child's life. … My family members love the new person I am becoming due to this program. … I would never imagine that I would have so many beautiful strong women and sisters by my side to help me get through my trials and tribulations.”
Continuing its holistic approach, Family Values for Life recently launched a work-readiness pilot program for five Jump Start to the New You participants, and will roll out the program on a larger platform later this year.

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Creating a Land of Opportunities
Dana Nelson, vice president of legacy and community partnerships, Super Bowl LII
Dana Nelson, vice president of legacy and community partnerships, Super Bowl LII

Your previous role was founding executive director of GiveMN, where you launched Give to the Max Day. How have those experiences helped to inform your current work with the Super Bowl Legacy Fund?
“I loved my time at GiveMN, and saw that role as a way to cheerlead for the nonprofit sector across Minnesota. There was such an incredible growth of online giving and excitement, and, I think, an appetite for learning how to do online giving. It was the right time and right place. This role with the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee Legacy Fund is a statewide campaign, so I see it similarly in that it’s centered around that same enthusiasm and passion for nonprofit work in Minnesota.”


You just launched a 52-week giving campaign leading up to the 2018 Super Bowl, and your main focus is on helping Minnesotans, especially kids, to be more active and healthy. How did you decide to make this the focus of the campaign?
“We have incredible leadership in our (Super Bowl Host Committee) executive board, made up of phenomenal business and community leaders, Doug Baker from Ecolab, Richard Davis of US Bank, and Marilyn Carlson Nelson. They wanted to leverage being on the world stage to showcase Minnesota as one of the country’s most philanthropic states and best volunteer markets. It was Marilyn who set out to make that connection to health and wellness. Marilyn and her late husband, Dr. Glen Nelson, have been incredible leaders around health and wellness in general, and there have been some staggering statistics that have come out over the past decade, including that kids born today have a shorter life expectancy than their parents for the first time ever. The good news is that it’s mostly preventable. We’re not going to solve it in 52 weeks, but I think we have an incredible opportunity to raise awareness and make some strategic grants that will make a big difference.”


In what ways will Minnesotans see the Legacy Fund in action over the course of this next year?
“Each week, the Legacy Fund, which is a Minnesota Community Foundation fund, will be announcing a new grant in a community somewhere in Minnesota. We’ll be telling the story of that community, that grant, and the innovation that will happen. We’ve got a great partnership with the Department of Health and their Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP). They touch all 87 counties, with local health boards engaged in conversations about preventative health year-round.
The grants are all focused around fun, fuel, and fundamentals. Fun is increased physical activity. Examples might be a bike fleet shared among schools, a new park, or a new playground structure. Fuel is access to nutritious food, which could be a community garden, or re-introducing native foods in the Native American reservations, and we are including all 11 (reservations) in our 52 weeks. And fundamentals will show up in the importance of a good coach in a young person’s life. In addition, we’ll be providing a grant to a school in each grantee community for equipment to change how they serve breakfast, and help more students eat breakfast so they are better able to learn in the classroom.
Because we are a time-limited campaign, being a fund of the Minnesota Community Foundation under Dr. Eric Jolly’s leadership as (Legacy Fund Advisory Board) co-chair has helped us immensely, with everything from creating a strategy to vetting the grantees and cutting the checks that will go to the grantees. They are valuable partners in this campaign.”


What do you hope the Legacy Fund’s lasting impact will be as you look beyond the Super Bowl?
“It’s one-time funding, so it was important to us to invest in things that would have a life beyond the grant. Most of these community grants fund physical infrastructure: playground, bikes, gardens and those kinds of things. We’re really excited that even a decade after the game is played, these communities will have this infrastructure around more physical activity and access to nutritious food to make a difference in their lives.”


How can readers help make the Legacy Fund’s work a success?
“We’re still looking for supporters, and would love contributions to the fund and even to specific projects. We would love for readers to start a conversation with their advisors around giving to the fund.”

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Reading List
Reading List

What Jai Winston Is Reading


As the Knight Foundation’s Saint Paul program director, Jai Winston encourages more Minnesota institutions, corporations and foundations to work with minority-owned asset management firms. For Winston, it’s a great melding of his previous work on the political and financial scenes, ranging from fundraising for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in Chicago, to helping more Americans — including students — gain financial literacy skills.

 It comes as no surprise, then, that Winston’s favorite reading material also follows his career interests. He is currently reading The Seventh Sense: Power, Fortune, and Survival in the Age of Networks by Joshua Cooper Ramo, which discusses leveraging the power and benefits of technology in a professional career. First read at the beginning of his career, one of Winston’s all-time favorites is Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant. And for financial self-education, Winston recommends a book that spurred his interest in financial literacy: The Wealth Choice: Success Secrets of Black Millionaires by Dennis Kimbro. “It was my first opportunity to read something focused on teaching people, and specifically people of color, how to grow their wealth,” he says. “It’s about being thoughtful about the choices you make, whether you have $10 or $100, and how people don’t just become wealthy, they choose to be wealthy.”

Get the Books
Everyday Philanthropy
Everyday Philanthropy
Spread the Love

Is a date night in your future? Consider doing something together that helps others in Minnesota. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Pack lifesaving meals for children and families across the globe at Feed My Starving Children, which offers volunteer opportunities at its three locations in Chanhassen, Eagan and Coon Rapids.
Assemble sandwiches for The Sandwich Project Minnesota, which helps feed more than 4,500 Minnesotans every week.
Cook and serve a meal, make a creative snack or plan and lead an enrichment activity for children at the Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery
Walk and play with rescued animals in the Twin Cities at Secondhand Hounds, or in northwestern Minnesota at Red Lake Rosie’s Rescue.
 Ready for a stay-cation? Check into a guest suite at Erik’s Ranch & Retreats in Edina, a unique living, working, and socializing environment for people on the autism spectrum.


Minnesota Philanthropy Partners are The Saint Paul Foundation, Minnesota Community Foundation, F. R. Bigelow Foundation, Mardag Foundation and more than 2,000 charitable organizations and donor funds. Together we provide charitable and financial expertise, connections and services to ensure all people and communities in Minnesota thrive.

Minnesota Philanthropy Partners


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