North by Northwest: Rural Resilience in Northwest and North Central Minnesota

June 13, 2016, 8:36 am
Fishing Otter Tail River Fergus Falls

Fishing Otter Tail River, Fergus Falls. Photo courtesy Fergus Falls Area Chamber of Commerce


Below is Vice President of Program Neal Cuthbert’s foreword from the McKnight-commissioned “North by Northwest: Rural Resilience in Northwest and North Central Minnesota,” an essay by Jay Walljasper exploring opportunities and challenges in Brainerd, Fegus Falls, and other communities in the northwest corner of Minnesota.


We’ve all heard the following claims about small-town Minnesota:

Rural Minnesota has been devastated by 50 years of “brain drain.” Small towns can’t keep up with the cultural amenities the next generation needs. Only major employers and multimillion-dollar investments can make the difference

And yet none of these popular narratives holds true. Read the rest of this entry »


Reflecting on a Decade of Investing Beyond Rails

June 5, 2016, 9:43 am
View down Washington Avenue from the East Bank station of the Green Line.

View down Washington Avenue from the East Bank station on the Green Line.


In February, an email popped up in my inbox that made my heart skip a beat.

Funders Collaborative No Longer Seeking Funding Proposals

Since our first grant in May 2008, the Funders Collaborative has made 155 grants worth more than $11.6 million.  With our sunset in five months, we have now obligated all of our remaining Catalyst Fund grant dollars. We anticipate making final awards by the end of March.

It’s an unusual announcement for a funding source to share. For the past decade, the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative (CCFC) has been a central piece of The McKnight Foundation’s Region & Communities (R&C) program work.  The strategy — started as a funder learning network by The St. Paul Foundation and McKnight  and carried forward by the R&C team with 12 national and local funders — provided extraordinary learning opportunities and helped to shape our program’s work. Read the rest of this entry »


Chronicle of Philanthropy: Fighting Global Climate Change Requires Foundations to Give Local

June 2, 2016, 5:45 am


The following op-ed originally appeared at The Chronicle of Philanthropy. With permission, it is reprinted here in its entirety.

By James E. Canales and Kate Wolford

Climate change is one of the most urgent challenges of our time — so pressing it brought nearly 170 nations together this spring to sign a landmark agreement. While the scale of this challenge is global, we believe that foundations of all types and sizes can help address it and that there are distinct and important roles for organizations like ours that focus on the city, state, or regional levels.

Our two institutions, the Barr Foundation and The McKnight Foundation, have devoted a substantial portion of our resources to slowing climate change.

Read the rest of this entry »


30 Years of The McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience

May 10, 2016, 9:06 am

McKnight Neuroscience Endowment board president Huda Zoghbi in her lab with post-doc fellow Jing Han.


The following blog post was contributed by guest author Huda Zoghbi, board president of the McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience.


This week, over 120 neuroscientists from around the country will arrive in Minneapolis to celebrate 30 years of the McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience. As president of the Endowment Fund board, I am honored to be a part of the celebration and to serve on the board. The celebration is timed to coincide with the Endowment Fund’s annual conference. Read the rest of this entry »


Clean Energy Drives Job Growth in the Midwest

April 4, 2016, 8:42 am

Researchers test the benefits of aerosol sealing, a process that makes buildings more energy efficient.
Photo: Center for Energy and Environment

Clean energy jobs growing fast

We’ve long known that increasing energy efficiency and renewable energy sources leads to cleaner air and water, healthier kids, and a more stable climate. A new report shows that clean energy can also boost our region’s economy by creating new jobs and entirely new industries. In fact, clean energy is supporting jobs in every corner of the Midwest, and companies in this sector are planning for nation-leading growth, according to the Clean Jobs Midwest report by Clean Energy Trust. Minnesota is poised to be a leader in clean energy job growth, supported by strong state policies and homegrown industries. This report is an important tool to track how the energy transition can strengthen Midwest communities and boost our economy. Read the rest of this entry »