People, Place, & Possibility: McKnight’s International Grantmaking in Pictures

February 2, 2016, 7:24 am
Visiting and local experts examine an outstanding phosphorus-efficient line of legumes in the field at Sussundenga Research Station in Mozambique. (Photo: Guilherme Cheiro)

Visiting and local experts examine an outstanding phosphorus-efficient line of legumes in the field at Sussundenga Research Station in Mozambique. (Photo: Guilherme Cheiro)


New photo book and exhibition showcase McKnight’s international work


Below is international program director Jane Maland Cady’s foreword from People, Place, and Possibility, a joint publication and exhibition recently produced by The McKnight Foundation. The exhibition is currently on view at the Cynthia Binger Boynton gallery at McKnight’s offices. The book is available to download or view online.

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Working Toward Equity, Sustainability in 2016 and Beyond

January 12, 2016, 10:38 am

New Year Reflections from Kate Wolford

As we begin a new year, I am very mindful of the awesome responsibility and privilege that we have in advancing the mission of The McKnight Foundation. We have a diverse and robust portfolio of program interests, all pointing toward a goal of strengthening socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable communities.

At the COP21 Climate Conference in Paris, 2015

McKnight president Kate Wolford at the global climate conference in Paris, December 2015

Two issues — climate change and racial disparities — were foremost in my mind as the year drew to a close, especially as recent events demonstrated both the transformative progress we can make when we come together, as well as the consequences that can occur when we do not. The solutions may not always be simple, but the direction in which we need to travel is most definitely clear.

A Historic Climate Summit

In December, I witnessed history in the making at the global climate conference in Paris. The strong agreement reached at the summit could only be possible because of the overwhelming momentum built by a coalition of diverse stakeholders leading up to the conference. This was reflected in the individual national plans submitted before the conference; robust action by states and cities across the globe; the rapidly increasing number of institutional investors and major corporations putting a spotlight on both the financial risks posed by climate change and the economic opportunities of shifting to a low-carbon future; and the many, many voices of civil society — youth, faith communities, consumers, citizen groups, and nonprofits — calling for immediate climate action. Read the rest of this entry »

Rick Shiomi, McKnight’s 2015 Distinguished Artist

December 14, 2015, 3:33 pm
Rick Shiomi performing at the Powell Street Festival, 1990

Rick Shiomi performing at the Powell Street Festival, Seattle, 1990. (Photo: Tamio Wakayama)


Below is board chair Meghan Binger Brown’s foreword from the recently released commemorative book celebrating McKnight’s 2015 Distinguished Artist, Rick Shiomi — theater artist, musician, and founder of Mu Performing Arts.

Playwright, Director, Musician, Mentor: An Artist’s Zen Journey

“Minnesota would be the last place in the world I’d want to end up,” Rick Shiomi wrote in 2011, remembering his thoughts after a 1990 visit to Minneapolis during which he was unhappily surprised by the city’s lack of an Asian American theater community.

That visit turned out to be a critical point in what Shiomi calls his Zen journey as an artist: A few months later, he came back to Minnesota for another visit, and two years after that he was here for good, helping to start building the community he had wanted so much to find. “Such are the ironies of my own journey — that realities I believed so remote from my own existence became the very framework for two decades of my life in theater,” he says. Read the rest of this entry »

Right Tools, Right Time: The Rise of Impact Investing

December 10, 2015, 10:31 am

McKnight’s vice president of finance and compliance Rick Scott was recently interviewed by Goldman Sachs Asset Management’s (GSAM) 
Perspectives magazine about the Foundation’s impact investing program. An abridged version is reprinted here with permission; the full interview is available at GSAM online.

Q&A with Rick Scott, Vice President of Finance and Compliance


Rick Scott, McKnight's vice president of finance and compliance

Rick Scott, Vice President of Finance and Compliance

GSAM: How has your thinking about environmental, social, and governance (ESG) and impact investing evolved since you began employing the strategy?

Rick Scott: Our thinking has evolved considerably, as our learning has granted us new perspectives on our approach to the broader portfolio. While McKnight started with 10% of our endowment dedicated to impact investing, we see value in using an ESG mindset in approaching both our dedicated impact investments as well as the entire portfolio. We have found more levers for advancing our grant-making goals as we look at our position as an ESG- and impact-conscious institutional investor with a $2bn endowment.

We see power in our role as: (i) an asset owner who can dictate how our capital is allocated; (ii) a customer of financial services with the capacity to request new approaches or products; (iii) a shareholder who can vote proxies and request better ESG transparency from companies; and (iv) a peer investor who can work with other institutional investors for a better regulatory framework at the SEC, or collaborate with other foundations on deals. So, while our endeavor may have started with a keen focus on a subset of our endowment, this approach has seeped into our overall investment thinking. Read the rest of this entry »

Looking Beyond Impact Investing to Support Climate Solutions

December 4, 2015, 2:21 pm



The following blog post originally appeared at Stanford Social Innovation Review. It is reprinted here with permission in its entirety.


A four-point framework for funders to advance a low-carbon future using their entire endowment.

Anticipation is building as world leaders converge at the international climate conference in Paris to address global warming. This will be a historic summit, and we’re heartened to see it going forward as planned, as one more show of resilience in the City of Light.

The magnitude of the climate crisis facing our planet, however, requires that leaders at every level and in every sector—not just those attending the summit—take bold and creative action.

Philanthropists, in particular, can address the challenge by mobilizing their endowments in new ways. The social sector is sitting on trillions of dollars in endowment funds, and every endowment offers immediate and powerful opportunities to advance a low-carbon future. Read the rest of this entry »