Group guides flow of foundation dollars to Mpls North Side

Tawanna Black
Tawanna Black

Tawanna Black has been the executive director of Northside Funders Group (NFG) since 2013. Although NFG has been around since 2008, she is their first executive director.

Black explains NFG is “a collaborative of 19 corporate, family and community foundations, including the City of Minneapolis, Hennepin County and the State of Minnesota, who are working to align strategies and investments in North Minneapolis.” They have three focus areas: building social capitol, workforce and economic development, and building thriving learning communities (in-school and out-of-school-time resources).

NFG is located in Heritage Park Senior Service Center, near Glenwood and Dupont in North Minneapolis. Their staff work with foundations to invest in nonprofits on the North Side, getting better outcomes for families and building a better community.

The members currently invest about $15 million a year in Northside organizations just in these three focus areas. Black says that many will agree that “to date, we are still not producing the level of outcome we would like to see for Northsiders… [There are] a lot of people who are not employed, [have] no access to high-quality schools, and we still have families who do not have secure housing and financial security. Although $15 million sounds like a lot, it is not achieving the outcomes we wish to see.”

NFG works to help funders be smarter about their investments do a better job partnering with nonprofits, Black explains, “so they can meet families where they are and provide services in a way that works for the families, organizations and funders, so we can achieve equity at a faster pace.”

From a funding perspective, Black adds, “Our members pool and align funds to approach grant-making in new ways. Collectively we look for collaborative strategies that are innovative and can serve as a catalyst for real community impact. We also have a focus on helping members learn more about the needs of Northside residents and ways to invest their dollars in ways that truly align with those needs.”

NFG’s goals include:

Building Thriving Economies

Cultivating the market to attract and expand businesses and increase jobs. This includes the metric of 1,000 jobs in North Minneapolis by 2019, 2,000 African American men connected to meaningful, sustainable living wage jobs by 2020, and strengthening and aligning workforce development systems serving North Minneapolis to achieve parity by 2020.

Building Thriving Learning Communities

Increasing the number of Northside scholars enrolled in quality, rigorous and relevant schools by 1,700 by 2020 (bringing the total to approximately 4,000), and increasing the number of Northside expanded learning organizations using quality assessment tools and a racial equity lens.

Building Social Capital

Developing and cultivating a shared understanding of racial equity that will inform members’ philanthropic practice and approach to community engagement and advancing equity, and investing in social capital building strategies that build relationships and connectivity between organizational leaders and reinforce the need for building social capital with Northside families.

For more information on Northside Funders Group, call 612-351-8214.

Brandi welcomes all questions and comments at bphillips@spokesman-recorder.com.