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These comments are responses to the Civic Caucus interview with

Tawanna Black, head of the Northside Funders Group
August 19, 2016

Foundation collaborative aims to change the way philanthropy works in North Minneapolis


A number of foundations and other funders who have been deeply invested in North Minneapolis for many years have not seen the change they'd like to see in that community, Northside Funders Group Executive Director Tawanna Black states. The funders decided they needed to work differently and to get to know each other to better understand places of overlap, challenges and gaps. After meeting informally for six years, 20 foundations and other funders formed the Northside Funders Group (NFG) collaborative in 2013.

NFG's mission is to change the way philanthropy works in North Minneapolis, Black says. She points out that NFG has developed three priority focus areas where it concentrates its work and funding: building thriving learning communities, building social capital and building thriving economies. NFG is one of fewer than five place-based foundations in the country. Black says NFG's place-based approach allows the organization to attempt to transform an entire neighborhood.

NFG member grants to Northside organizations, which collectively amount to $15 million to $20 million per year, are more focused and coordinated than they were before, Black notes. Some NFG member funders give grants to Northside organizations on their own, while the rest donate to a pool from which NFG members determine what joint grants they will make. All of the grants are investments in the organization's three focus areas.

Black calls on legislators to evaluate workforce programs by looking at participants' outcomes two years after they complete a program. Average outcomes of the programs have not been good, especially for African American men. She believes state and county governments must make data-based decisions and shift the way they decide who gets the money for workforce programs. She discusses the use of the $35 million investment in equity appropriated by the 2016 Legislature, what difference the funding will make and how recipients of the money will be evaluated.

For the complete interview summary see: link to interview

Individual Responses:

Jaime Ashley Benner
Wonderful , let me know how I could help! 

Wayne Jennings
I am impressed by Twin Cities Rise with their 1) personal empowerment program emphasizing confidence, collaboration, dress, manners and other features that cause people to thrive in jobs and 2) specific training for certain jobs. Some years ago we hired an African American woman and gave her good salary. She came to work dressed inappropriately, got into arguments with other employees and eventually was let go. She needed the empowerment program to prepare for success on the job.

The Northside program could do something like this to help people get and keep jobs. After years of unemployment, people need help and hand holding to make the transition to coming to work, dressing for success, working with others, understanding the mission of organizations. They have the energy but need coaching that continues after training and obtaining a job.

Bringing jobs to Northside is just as critical as training people to do and hold those jobs. There should not be an influx of people coming into Northside fulfilling positions when an entire population is already there. This same situation of not finding suitably trained people exists also for companies in rural areas. In schools, we fill youngsters heads with the nonsense of going to college as the only path—nonsense because of it is unrealistic for many and because of developing skills and knowing of other training possibilities for advancement as welders, carpenters and 100s of other good and important to society jobs. Just visit a technical college with its 100s of program, unfortunately isn’t seen as a "respectable" college  High schools have closed shop, home and reduced on-the-job programs and other hands-on subjects because they weren’t aca demic enough—read not well-thought-of enough. This not an argument against attending college but recognizing that many, if not most, drop out and label themselves failures when, in fact, they could be successful with training for work.

Tom Abeles
Impressive. Their heads are in the right place

One point to note, the State of Colorado, the only state, has created an apprentice program with great similarities to the German model.  CC might look into this as a complementary interview.

Also, may I commend to members the writings of Guy Standing on the "precariat" It's worth considering whether or not the CC picks up on it. 

Also the Suskind's book, The Future of the Professions

Phil Kinnunen
What is being done to determine why 66% of the people are still in such an economically depressed area after ten years?  Are any of the funding groups working with law enforcement to focus community policing on gangs who are opposed to positive change in the community?  Are any efforts being made to encourage people to leave the area to find meaningful employment?  What efforts are being made to encourage manufacturing to relocate to the area?  Are some of the goals of the funders to keep minorities and undereducated people in concentrated areas?  Are any of the funders focused on long term goals such as attitude change?  It appears that this is a least a start to head in a new direction for programs that never worked.

Michael Martens
"While 12,000 people drive into the Northside to work there, 20,000 drive out to work elsewhere."

1. For the 12,000 that drive in what kind of jobs do they have white collar, blue collar? Who do they work for private companies, not profits, government? How much do these jobs pay? Are they white, black  Latino? How much training do these job require?

2.   What involvement will the NFG have in the redevelopment of the city owned Upper Harbor and Linden Yards?

3.   Why is the North Loop which is prospering  included?


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The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Interview Group  includes persons of varying political persuasions,
reflecting years of leadership in politics and business. Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

  John S. Adams, David Broden, Audrey Clay, Janis Clay, Pat Davies, Bill Frenzel, Paul Gilje (Executive Director), Randy Johnson, Sallie Kemper, Ted Kolderie,
Dan Loritz (Chair), Tim McDonald, Bruce Mooty, John Mooty, Jim Olson, Paul Ostrow, Wayne Popham, Dana Schroeder, Clarence Shallbetter, and Fred Zimmerman




The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
2104 Girard Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55405.
Dan Loritz, chair, 612-791-1919   ~   Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.

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