How We Got Here: McKnight’s Arts Approach Explained

September 13, 2016, 1:22 pm
Photo: McKnight arts grantee TU Dance

Photo: McKnight arts grantee TU Dance


McKnight’s arts team recently shared the following letter with arts grantees about a program update that increases transparency about our grantmaking approach.


Dear McKnight Arts Grantee,

In 2015, The McKnight Foundation granted $9.1 million — more than 10% of our total payout for the year — to arts organizations in Minnesota. McKnight has supported Minnesota’s artists since 1981, the inaugural year of the McKnight Artist Fellowships program. Over the past three decades, more than 1,600 artists have received fellowships. Read the rest of this entry »


Four Minnesotans recognized as Virginia McKnight Binger Unsung Heroes

August 30, 2016, 3:18 pm

The McKnight Foundation and the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits (MCN) have selected Deborah Jiang-Stein of Minneapolis, Koresh Lakhan of Duluth, Qamar Saadiq Saoud of Minneapolis and Dr. Arne Vainio of Cloquet as the recipients of the 2016 Virginia McKnight Binger Unsung Hero Awards.

Each of 2016’s honorees will receive a cash prize of $10,000 from The McKnight Foundation and MCN and be honored at a private luncheon in Minneapolis on Friday, September 9. Award recipients will also be recognized at the 2016 MCN Annual Conference on Thursday, October 6 in Duluth, MN. Read the rest of this entry »


Improving Early Literacy in PreK-3: Lessons Learned

August 29, 2016, 8:14 am

Photo: Steve Foley


This week, SRI International releases “Improving Early Literacy in PreK-3: Lessons Learned,” a case study commissioned by The McKnight Foundation that chronicles efforts to improve PreK-3rd literacy proficiency in six schools across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area. We’re pleased to feature this reflection from Kristie Kauerz, Ed.D., Director of the National P-3 Center at the University of Washington and a longtime member of McKnight’s Education & Learning National Advisory Committee. In her blog post, Dr. Kauerz connects her knowledge of our local effort with her broader, national perspective to offer key takeaways for philanthropists, policymakers, and school district leaders.

Four Takeaways from the Pathway Schools Report

As someone who’s been deeply involved in the Pathway Schools initiative since its inception, I am encouraged and excited that McKnight and SRI are helping us, as a field, get smarter about the kinds of investments and supports needed to support the educational success and joy of young children in preschool and elementary school. These findings add important weight and credibility to our knowledge base about both the implementation and evaluation of P-3 approaches. I have four takeaways. Read the rest of this entry »


Why a Positive Work Culture Matters

August 16, 2016, 1:13 pm

McKnight staff participate in a volunteer service day each year. In 2015 we partnered with grantees
Midtown Greenway Coalition and Tree Trust.


In a recent employee engagement and trust survey through the Great Place to Work Institute, The McKnight Foundation was proud to learn that 100 percent of the employees at the Foundation say this is a great place to work and they are proud to work here. Shortly afterward, one of our program directors commented to me that she had had an “ah ha” moment at a national conference where the topic of organizational culture was raised. The program director realized that McKnight’s focus on culture wasn’t just to enhance the employee experience — although that matters — the point is ultimately to improve the quality of our work. Read the rest of this entry »


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 »