Funding Priorities

Funding Priorities & Application Procedures

The Foundation is currently updating its funding priorities, and we are not seeking any new proposals for funding at this time. We anticipate this process will be completed by the end of 2016. Please check back for updates, which will be provided as they become available. You may also check our blog, Community Voices  for updates, or sign up for our e-news to be kept updated. If you have any questions, feel free to contact a member of our staff.

The Foundation focuses its grantmaking efforts around two key priorities:

  1. Help people in poverty attain economic stability.
  2. Combat discrimination and address inequities.

This strategic focus reinforces our founders’ core values and mission “to address the unmet human needs of individuals, families, and communities that have the least access to resources.” Our geographic focus continues to be the seven-county metropolitan area including Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott and Washington Counties.

In 2012, the trustees approved a 3-year plan for 2013-2015 that affirmed the Foundation’s key funding priorities and approaches.

1. Help people in poverty attain economic stability

We want to be clear what we mean when we use the word poverty. The “poverty line” is defined by the federal government to determine who receives its services. The figure reflects the minimum budget needed for a family to maintain a nutritious diet, according to standards set more than 40 years ago. It does not reflect costs of other basic necessities like transportation, housing, utilities, and child care in today’s economy.

Today, this definition is grossly inadequate and doesn’t take into account the thousands in our community who make up the working poor. Poverty is deeper, more debilitating, and more complex than any line can measure. It is the reality of making impossible choices every day. Do you buy food or take your child to the doctor? Do you pay rent or transit fees that get you to work? Understanding poverty goes beyond measuring budgets that meet basic needs. It also requires an understanding of the causes and impact of poverty—for individuals, families, and communities.

The kind of economic stability being promoted by the Foundation means more than having the resources necessary to put food on the table. It also means having a safe, affordable place to live and raise children, a support system of helpful people, the capacity to deal with life’s challenges, and the motivation and tools to strive for a better tomorrow. Economic stability brings greater choice and opportunity, more personal resilience, and brighter prospects for future prosperity.

Our Strategy Areas
We approach this funding priority through a number of discreet tactics in four strategy areas:

Employment EmploymentSupport more accessible and effective vocational pathways that enable individuals with low incomes and low skills to advance towards stable, living wage careers.

HousingHousing Ensure that low-income people have access to quality affordable housing that provides stability and a foundation for future success.

EducationEducation – Advance efforts at the school, district and state levels to ensure that all low-income youth can earn a world-class education that prepares them for lifelong success.

TransitTransitEnsure that people with low incomes have reasonable access to affordable transportation to get to work and meet their daily needs.

2. Combat discrimination and address inequities

We also recognize the importance of supporting nonprofit organizations working to combat discrimination and address inequities. The Foundation’s continuing commitment to this work honors the legacy of Jay and Rose Phillips and reflects the interests of our current Trustees to combat discrimination in all its forms so that people have a voice in decisions that affect their lives and the opportunity to achieve their full potential.  Our grantmaking in this area is focused on three core issues:

  • Anti-discriminationAdvocacy for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights
    • Access to affordable reproductive health services
      • Advancing equity for all races and religions

Other Grantmaking

In addition to our Twin Cities grantmaking, we make two other kinds of grants—trustee-directed grants and legacy grants. These grant programs are by invitation only and no unsolicited proposals are accepted.

  • Trustee-directed grants are made by the board of trustees to meet the needs of their home communities here in Minnesota and in California.
  • Legacy grants support a small cluster of nonprofit organizations that have been central to our work for many years.

Application and Selection Processes

We no longer use traditional grant round deadlines and routine application procedures as we have in the past. Rather, staff proactively seek out opportunities to apply Foundation resources to promising efforts that align with our funding interests.  Occasionally, the Foundation will also issue Requests for Proposal or invite Letters of Inquiry in a specific area in order to surface a range of ideas about a specific community need or opportunity.

We’re always interested in finding out about projects or programs that align with our funding priorities. Feel free to contact one of our staff if you have questions or want to discuss how your work aligns with our interests or complete the online Letter of Inquiry to introduce a project to us.