Five years ago The Jay & Rose Phillips Foundation of Minnesota made a commitment to join arms with North Minneapolis residents and discover together how to improve the neighborhoods of the North Side without displacing residents. Today, our community-led approach to grantmaking is supporting efforts to strengthen Northside public schools, build a strong local business community, and secure land ownership for local Black entrepreneurs.
While we see some exciting early results from these investments, it’s clear that the road ahead is very long. The challenges we are confronting – chronically failing schools, undercapitalized local businesses, an opaque and bureaucratic commercial property development system –have afflicted Northsiders for decades. These systemic failures each have long and tragic origin stories that blend explicit and implicit racism, bureaucracies serving themselves over the people, and a consistent lack of adequate leadership.
It would be easy to give up when faced with such long-entrenched problems. Or at least look around for easier ones to solve.
But Phillips isn’t giving up or looking away. We’re digging in.
The inspiration for our stubborn resolve is the people of North Minneapolis, their love for this area, and their ceaseless efforts to make it better. It has been our honor to work alongside these local world-changers and support the hopeful visions for the future of the Northside.
With the continued guidance of our passionate, rooted community advisors, we’re focusing on supporting work that acknowledges deeply-embedded injustices and responds with long-term, even generational, solutions. Decades of misdeeds and neglect can’t be undone in a year, or even five. It may take a generation or more. And we’re down for that.
Over the next two months, we will share stories of our work that highlight the joys and challenges of our long-term, relational approach. The series is entitled: Putting Assets to Work. Readers will see inside the long and sometimes bumpy road to breaking ground on the 927 West Broadway building with our partners TRI-Construction and NEW RULES. We will also share more about our $1 million investment in black control of commercial property on the North Side. Finally, we’ll write about how our parallel investments in public schools and the local newspaper are working together to change the mainstream narrative about this much-loved and much-misunderstood part of our city.
We hope you’ll enjoy reading these blogs and engage with us as we continue moving this important work forward.