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Reflections on 2020 & Final 2020 Grantmaking

2020 has been quite the year. So many of us are ready to put this year filled with COVID19 restrictions and fears, racial unrest, and political division behind us. But before we do, we’d like to reflect on how the Foundation has shown up this year. Below, you can see what our grantmaking looked like this year.

We entered 2020 with high expectations that the year would see progress in the 4th year of our focus on North Minneapolis. Joel was anticipating increased success in our student-centered learning grants at Olson Middle School and Patrick Henry High School, and was looking forward to supporting a new cohort of North Minneapolis schools that were seeking to deepen their family engagement practices.  Coco assembled a real estate advisory committee to address our response to gentrification on the Northside. Tracy was updating systems and processes as we made plans for moving into new office space and as she was planning a sabbatical. Patrick had expectations that The 927 Building would break ground by late spring. All of this ground to a halt when COVID19 hit in early March. We quickly pivoted to remote work on March 17, believing this would be short term. We soon realized it would last awhile as a return to the office moved from summer to late fall to January to sometime in mid-2021. 

From March to June, we worked feverishly to understand the needs of our grantees and partners as they too adjusted to a new COVID reality. Many had to lay off or furlough staff. Northside businesses were forced to shutter, and faced with a loss of revenue, they worried if they’d survive. Schools moved to remote learning without adequate systems or structures to ensure continued educational progress. Parents juggled work and supporting their children’s educational needs. People were rightfully scared for their personal health as people died and loved ones were diagnosed with the virus. It was a time of great uncertainty and warranted fear.

The Foundation stepped up. We provided some initial COVID19 relief grants, mainly to support small businesses who needed revenue to stay open. We pre-purchased goods and services from vendors for needs we had budgeted in order to put crucial revenue in their pockets immediately. Most importantly, we committed ourselves to stay focused on the Northside well beyond the impacts of the pandemic. Northsiders told us that immediate relief was good, but that being there when that relief ended was more important. The needs of the Northside, exacerbated by the pandemic, required long-term engaged philanthropic partners like Phillips. The work of the last four years was paying dividends.

Then in late May, George Floyd was killed by police. This heinous murder, caught on camera for the world to see, set off a firestorm of protests. Some protests led to violence and destruction. For several nights, Minneapolis burned. Northside buildings and businesses were damaged, and some destroyed. The building next to The 927 Building was set on fire. Miraculously, and due to the diligence of the project partners, The 927 Building was spared.  Northside watch groups were established to patrol the neighborhoods and ward off would-be destructionists. 

Again, the Foundation stepped up. We provided grants for relief efforts around the city focused on helping those most impacted by the destruction. The Foundation staff spent a day with Northside residents boarding up businesses on West Broadway. We acquired donations of plywood; we purchased water, facemasks and lunch; and most importantly, we showed the community that our support is expected and unwavering. All of this while a pandemic raged in our country.

In 2021, we promise to continue showing up with and for our Northside neighbors.

Foundation Launches The Northside Commercial Real Estate Revolving Loan Fund

Just a few weeks ago, the Foundation launched our newest land-based initiative to achieve economic justice: The Northside Commercial Real Estate Revolving Loan Fund (RLF). The RLF exists to spur Black, Indigenous, People Of Color (BIPOC) led commercial real estate development in North Minneapolis as a solution to gentrification and displacement and as a vehicle for wealth creation.

This idea emerged after months of planning work by a group of advisors (see the list below) the Foundation invited to design solutions around the following question: How might we support anti-displacement strategies in the face of gentrification? The question is admittedly broad, complex and could lead down many paths. The group quickly zeroed in on how to support Northside BIPOC Developers who are frequently prevented from opportunities to develop real estate. The hope is that this fund will disrupt discriminatory lending practices that leave many project stagnant, under-capitalized and buried in debt, and builds a deep bench of community rooted developers. The RLF will be hosted at Northside Economic Opportunity Network (NEON) in partnership with LISC Twin Cities who won a Request for Proposals released in September.

Seeded with a $1M Program Related Investment (PRI) from the Foundation, the RLF will center the BIPOC developer, not the investor in design. Specifically, loans will be for both pre-development and gap financing at 0-2% interest rates and will feature flexible repayment timelines built around the individual developer and project.  A loan committee (majority Northside BIPOC) will be established to support the partners in making investment decisions and will utilize a balance of character and credit based lending policies. The PRI, which also features favorable terms—0%, non-recourse, ten-year term—is accompanied by a $150k operating grant to NEON to activate the RLF, and hopefully make the first loans in Q2 2021. We invite our philanthropic peers to join us in building wealth on the Northside through land-based solutions by helping grow the RLF to at least $5M over the next couple of years

Finally, we want to thank our Northside Real Estate Advisory Committee: Aarica Coleman, Jasmine McConnell, Sharon El Amin, C. Terrence Anderson, Andrew McGlory, Renay Dossman, Anil Hurkadli and Kate Speed. These individuals have shown up to consistently center the experience of Northside BIPOC Developers and to challenge the Foundation to lead with racial equity values. We would simply not be where we are without their thoughtfulness, dedication and extraordinary care for the Northside.

Stay tuned for more information in early 2021. In the meantime, contact E. Coco at or 612-834-2657 for more information about the RLF.

Foundation Completes 2020 Grantmaking

Earlier this month, the Foundation approved its final grants of 2020.  With these grants, the Foundation has made $3,496,318 in grants for 2020. This does not include our $1.5M Program Related Investment to The 927 Building redevelopment, which brings our total 2020 payout to $4,996,318.  These grants include:

  • $563,000 in response to COVID19 and the unrest following the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police.
  • $641,573 to support Student Centered Learning efforts in North Minneapolis public schools.
  • $767,500 to support the Northside economic ecosystem.
  • $318,125 to the Minnesota Private College Council to support the 27th cohort of Phillips Scholars and the third cohort of Eddie Phillips Scholars.
  • $45,000 to Pillsbury United Communities to support “North News” and community journalism.
  • $146,000 of continued support to Planned Parenthood of the Central States, Jewish Community Action, Minnesota NARAL, the Jay Phillips Centers at St. John’s University and the University of St. Thomas, and Northside Achievement Zone.
  • $45,000 to collaborative efforts that bring funders together. 

We are grateful for all of our grantees and the inspiring and important work you do in the community. 

The Foundation Offices Closed Over the Holidays

During the upcoming Christmas and New Year’s holidays, the Foundation offices will be closed December 25 through January 1. If you have an urgent reason to contact the Foundation, please contact our President, Patrick Troska at

From all of us at The Jay & Rose Philips Family Foundation of Minnesota, we wish you a safe and happy holiday season, and many blessings in the New Year. 

Phillips Family Foundation

Author Phillips Family Foundation

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