The E-Newsletter for Minnesota Philanthropists
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MNSights, the E-Newsletter for Minnesota Philanthropists

Sowing Seeds of Change

  Eric Jolly  


American author Neil Postman wrote in the introduction to his first book, "Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see."
True philanthropy is an act of grace that provides donors the opportunity to lay the groundwork for a future that they will not see. Much like sowing seeds whose harvest will feed future generations, generous members of our community help ensure that the future of the community is a brighter one.
Since 1947, donors of The Saint Paul & Minnesota Community Foundations have helped build community by sowing seeds of change.
Last year alone, Minnesota Community Foundation donors awarded more than 4,500 grants totaling more than $18 million to nonprofits from Chisholm to Zumbrota, to support causes that ranged from renovating a school auditorium to making adult basic education accessible to prison inmates.
Donors of The Saint Paul Foundation have established more than 1,000 funds since the inception of the Foundation. These funds serve East Metro needs that range from helping women achieve higher education degrees to assisting immigrant communities with economic development.
In 2016, our donors and those of 17 community foundations around the state who partner with us — including Twin Cities suburbs such as Shoreview and Greater Minnesota communities such as New Ulm — helped ensure a brighter future in 62 of Minnesota’s counties through their generosity.
In this edition of our MNSights e-newsletter, learn more about how the Foundations, our donors and our community affiliates are creating lasting legacies in the community through philanthropy.
If you are interested in learning more about how you can sow seeds of change in your community through charitable giving, we invite you to contact one of our gift planners. They are experts poised to help you identify ways to create your own unique legacy.

—Eric J. Jolly, Ph.D., President and CEO, The Saint Paul and Minnesota Community Foundations
Contact a Gift Planner
Nonprofit to Know
Nonprofit to Know
Farm-to-Table Learning

Spanning 360 acres of rural land in southern Minnesota near Waseca is Farmamerica, The Minnesota Agricultural Interpretive Center. Founded in 1978, Farmamerica connects people with agriculture’s rich history and heritage. Visitors can stop at the main center and explore paths along prairie land to experience a visual evolution of farming through antique equipment and farmsteads.
Entering its 40th anniversary, Executive Director Jessica Rollins said Farmamerica is still in its infancy — and teeming with opportunity to not only tell the story of farming’s past, but also its present and future. “It’s fun for people to understand that things are changing just as quickly in agriculture as they are in other spaces embracing technology,” said Rollins. “Farmers are progressive, and technology allows them to be better stewards of the land.”
Recent developments include a new hands-on exhibit about modern agriculture, as well as August’s first annual Meat-a-palooza, where consumers tasted local meat while learning from farmers, butchers, chefs and brewers.
With support from the Waseca Area Foundation (a Minnesota Community Foundation affiliate foundation), Farmamerica has made hands-on learning not only fun, but free. The funding covers the admissions costs of nearly 2,000 elementary and middle school students visiting the site on school trips. “This funding support helps the school districts — and it helps Farmamerica tell the story of agriculture,” said Rollins.

Watch the Video
One Community, Different Realities
Wei Huang, chief investment officer, The Saint Paul & Minnesota Community Foundations
Wei Huang, chief investment officer, The Saint Paul & Minnesota Community Foundations

Born and raised in Shanghai and educated on the east coast of the United States, Wei Huang brings a fresh voice and perspective to The Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundations’ chief investment officer position — as well as a wealth of investment experience: His resume includes public equity, private equity and alternative investments. We recently spoke with Huang as he settles into his new role with the Foundations.


What attracted you to the position? 
“I served on the United Way of Portage County committee in Wisconsin for almost a decade. I’m passionate about giving back to the community, and I also have young kids. When I had the opportunity to join the Foundations, I realized this was really a unique job, one where I don’t have to do two separate things — working for an insurance company by day, then working on the committee after work. As CIO of the Foundations, I can combine those two things into one job — so that’s very refreshing. I also truly believe in President and CEO Eric J. Jolly, Ph.D.’s vision, and I like the culture here.”


How does the investment team help donors maximize their giving and philanthropic goals?
“In this day and age, donors have a lot of options. The larger financial institutions often have ‘off-the-shelf’, cookie-cutter investment portfolios that donors can use. With our Foundations, we try to give the donor a very well-rounded, full-service package with expertise. We offer a very customized portfolio and we help our donors give locally. My vision is to make sure we invest in a cost-effective manner. We have built a very well diversified, risk-adjusted return portfolio for our donors, so they can feel comfortable their money will last much longer and enable them to give to a lot of causes they care about.”


What do you anticipate will be the biggest rewards and challenges of the position?
“The biggest reward to me, optimally, is making sure we preserve the purchasing power — in good cycles, but more importantly, in down cycles, too. We need adequate dollars to give out during those down cycles, because that’s when charities and local communities need it the most. That will be my biggest reward, but also my biggest challenge. I think by building a successful and very well diversified portfolio, we can build enough buffer to continue to generate that giving.”


What tips would you give donors to maximize and achieve their philanthropic goals?
“I think it’s important that donors feel confident that they are going to partner with the Foundations. I spend a lot of time talking to investment managers and investment partners before I invest with them, so I think donors should do the same thing, too. Set up as many meetings as possible with potential foundations you’re looking to partner with. Talk to not only the fundraising people, but also the investment and giving teams. Make sure you feel comfortable and confident you can trust them.”

Learn More
Reading List
Reading List

What Scott and Anne Jones Are Reading 


It takes a village – and for Scott and Anne Jones, that village is a slice of southeastern Minnesota. As chair and vice chair of the Jones Family Foundation in Red Wing, they use the power of collective impact to catalyze positive change for families and youth in their community. The Foundation, a 501(c)(3) support organization of The Saint Paul Foundation, partners with many organizations. Their thoughtful, collaborative approach to philanthropy aims to not only support key organizations, but truly transform them and the individuals they serve.

Recently Read:
Scott: Conclave by Robert Harris. “It’s a historical fiction of how the College of Cardinals elect a new Pope. Intrigue, politics and strongly held values collide.”
Anne: Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner is a historical tracking of the West through four generations. “The back and forth from one generation to another makes for an interesting read. It is long – and not one easily put down for any length of time.”

Inspirational Favorite:
Scott: The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch and Jeffrey Zaslow.“If we had only one more chance to share our wisdom, what would we choose to say? It’s a provocative question that still challenges me today.”
Anne: When All You’ve Ever Wanted Isn’t Enough by Rabbi Harold Kushner. 

Get the Books
Everyday Philanthropy
Everyday Philanthropy
Supporting Local Agriculture

With fall harvest in full swing, consider volunteering for organizations committed to empowering local farmers and agriculture. Here are a few grantees of the Foundations that would benefit from your time and talent.

HAFA: The Hmong American Farmers Association advances the prosperity of local Hmong American farmers through cooperative endeavors, capacity building and advocacy. Pack, load and prepare Community Supported Agriculture boxes for local shipment – or order a special Thanksgiving box, filled with fall harvest favorites like sweet potatoes, squash and fresh herbs.

LEDC: The Latino Economic Development Center empowers Latino farmers by helping them find markets, buy machinery, purchase farmland and obtain necessary certifications. Teach or tutor aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners in math, science, writing and computer skills as they prepare for the GED.

Centro Campesino­: Founded by former migrant farmworkers, Centro Campesino improves the lives of the Latino and migrant communities in southern Minnesota through advocacy, education, health promotion and youth outreach.

Dream of Wild Health: Connecting Native people with indigenous foods and medicines, this nonprofit based on a 10-acre farm near Hugo offers education programs and serves more than 3,000 Native and non-native people per year. Sign up to volunteer on Fridays during the summer.

Saint Paul & Minnesota Community Foundations


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