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 »


Transparency for Impact

March 10, 2016, 9:36 am


If my email inbox had a theme in the past few weeks, it’s been transparency. The Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) just released a report called Sharing What Matters: Foundation Transparency. In a blog post upon its release, Ellie Buteau, CEP’s vice president of research, called for “a more nuanced conversation about transparency in philanthropy,” challenging foundations to share information that is useful to both foundations and grantees as we seek to advance positive change on difficult, complex issues CEP notes that the field has made advances in sharing grantmaking goals, strategies, and processes — which nonprofits do appreciate and deem useful. Foundations, however, could be doing much more to provide transparency around what we’ve learned and experienced. Read the rest of this entry »


Scrubbing Coal, Supporting Communities

February 16, 2016, 9:07 am



As of Feb. 1, 2016, the McKnight Foundation’s $188 million bond portfolio is coal-free. It’s a move we made to further align our investments with our grantmaking goals of building a low-carbon economy. And as this economy-wide transformation advances, coal debt is likely to become increasingly unattractive to long-term investors.

The process was relatively easy and the costs low. First, we identified any dedicated coal companies and mining companies that owned underground coal reserves. This led to selling only eight bonds valued at $1.6 million in the 1,500-bond portfolio. A relatively small number when compared to the entire fixed income portfolio. Read the rest of this entry »


Northeast Minnesota: New Possibilities in the North Country

February 5, 2016, 12:49 pm
View of downtown Duluth in summer.

View of downtown Duluth in summer.


Below is Vice President of Program Neal Cuthbert’s foreword from the McKnight-commissioned Northeast Minnesota: New Possibilities in the North Country, an essay by Jay Walljasper exploring opportunities and challenges in communities north of the metro area and east of Brainerd and Bemidji.

Jay Walljasper’s “Northeast Minnesota: New Possibilities in the North Country” was commissioned by The McKnight Foundation as part of our Food for Thought series — a collection of independent reports to inform our understanding of the sectors in which we operate and our related program strategies. This is the second of four case studies examining the opportunities and challenges in Greater Minnesota. In the first report, Walljasper examined some of the big ideas coming out of the southeast, including the development of the Destination Medical Center in Rochester, the vibrant arts scene in Lanesboro, and many other examples of economic diversification. Read the rest of this entry »