Racial Equity in Arts Philanthropy: A Work in Progress

July 11, 2016, 2:04 pm


I came to philanthropy after nearly a decade as the executive director of a culturally-specific arts organization. I understand that in addition to the general struggle to thrive that exists for most artists and arts organizations, artists of color and arts organizations founded and led by people of color especially struggle to own space in which to produce and perform their works; struggle to control the direction or production of their work; struggle to advance positive images and alternative aesthetics derived from their cultures; struggle to get beyond discussions of diversity and inclusion to attend to the deep work of nurturing and advancing their aesthetics; struggle to have the resources to build out, preserve, access, and distribute alternative artistic cannons; struggle to explore and fully represent complex artistic identities; struggle to be valued for their work in building community within a context that privileges and promotes individualism; struggle to garner sufficient community support beyond short-term events and annual programs to get long-term support for sustained general operations.
My list could continue. Read the rest of this entry »


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 »