The year 2010 marked the 53rd Anniversary of the Elmer L. & Eleanor J. Andersen Foundation, a year of several interesting activities and milestones.
A highlight of the year was attendance by board members and staff at the Council on Foundation’s Family Foundation Conference in San Diego. Joined by members of the Trillium Family Foundation Board of Directors and other family foundation representatives from across the country, they attended sessions on issues pertinent to family philanthropy, and also enjoyed the warmth and sights of San Diego.
The Directors continued to more fully develop the strategic grantmaking of the Foundation. To provide guidance for the effective philanthropy of the Elmer L. and Eleanor J. Andersen Foundation, a revised mission statement was adopted in addition to new vision and value statements:
The Elmer L. & Eleanor J. Andersen Foundation improves the quality of life through effective family grantmaking, honoring the legacy of its founders and investing in social change.
The Elmer L. & Eleanor J. Andersen Foundation will catalyze positive change by empowering people to contribute to a sustainable world encompassing thriving, liveable communities.
The Elmer L. & Eleanor J. Andersen Foundation embraces the democratic ideals of fairness, justice and opportunity for all. Broad civic engagement, realizing the full potential of people, builds sustainable communities of life.
Also, at a foundation-directed retreat in March, general guidelines were developed for Legacy grants in honoring the traditional areas of interest of the founders, Social Change grants in generating impactful change in the community, and Discretionary grants in fostering family involvement in the Foundation.
Because of its strategic planning in the area of social justice philanthropy, the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) identified the Foundation for profile, along with other foundations, in research by Brandeis University. A graduate student interviewed board members and staff to highlight thoughts and actions as the Foundation examined policies and practices.
Implementation of the Foundation’s Social Change grantmaking in the area of political power and process began with the determination of the goal to seek improvement in political process participation among populations where participation was lower than average in recent elections. Conversations were conducted with three worthy local organizations working towards the goal. As a result, the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits was awarded a grant of $40,000 ($20,000 a year for two years) to re-implement its Train the Trainer program, a part of its Minnesota Participation Project. A similar process is underway for the environmental justice area and will also be implemented in 2011 for the civil and human rights area.
In addition to the first social change-designated grant of $40,000 awarded to the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, other grants of note were approved. The Elmer L. Andersen Research Scholars Program at the University of Minnesota Libraries was awarded $25,000 over five years. A grant of $9,000 over three years was approved for Public Art Saint Paul and its programs at the Western Park Sculpture Park. Although approved in December 2008, payments for a $24,000 grant over three years began in December 2009 to Carleton College for its student civic engagement program. A discretionary grant of $12,000 over three years was awarded to the Real Change Empowerment Project (Seattle). Other discretionary grants were $2,000 to the Wyoming Outdoor Council (Lander) and $3,000 to the National Outdoor Leadership School (Lander). Also, with the application process now assigned to the Muskegon Community Foundation, the amount of $5,000 in scholarships was awarded to prospective journalism students at Muskegon Community College through the Archie McRae scholarship fund which was partially funded by the Foundation many years ago.
Beginning in December 2010, Legacy grantmaking will be conducted two rather than four times a year. Thus, to aid in effective and efficient board meetings, a consent agenda procedure was honed and implemented. Directors offer pre-meeting input on the increasing number of proposals received for consideration to streamline the decision-making.
Anticipated in 2011 are social change grant awards in the areas of environmental justice, and civil and human rights. Hopefully, market conditions will continue to improve as will the Foundation’s capacity for effective grantmaking.