The year 2016 marked the 59th Anniversary of the Elmer L. & Eleanor J. Andersen Foundation.
The social justice grantmaking program continues with a new multi-year grant in the area of political power and process, and continued support in the area of environmental justice. Mindful of the presidential election year, a two-year, $50,000 grant was awarded to Minnesota Voice to advance the goal of increasing voter engagement of under-represented and marginalized communities in the Twin Cities area. In the environmental justice area, the Foundation continues to support work associated with the environmental justice atlas. The Center for Earth, Energy and Democracy (CEED) received the final $25,000 installment of a three-year $75,000 grant to ensure impacted communities and those responsible for policies are using the atlas.
Also, the Board revisited the practice of a set rotation through the three focus areas. Given the current uneasy societal climate, a decision was made to recommit to the civil/human rights area in addition to political power and process and environmental justice, with flexibility in the schedule of grant consideration.
In 2016, the Foundation continued its education in the area of socially responsible investing. In conjunction with the Trillium Family Foundation, Board members who were available attended a mini-retreat led by Susan Hammel, the Minnesota Council of Foundation’s Executive-In-Residence for impact investing.
Previous discussions with impact investing practitioners, education from the mini-retreat, prior discussions and actions concerning fossil fuel divestment, and a switch in one of the investment managers, provided the impetus and influence for a new investment policy. For the new policy, a socially responsible investment strategy was crafted and will be monitored and tweaked as both the Board and investment managers learn more.
Internal Foundation developments include a new office laptop computer, projector and screen. A manual of procedures continues to be compiled for documentation of Foundation business. Also, experimenting was done with an on-line survey platform to improve communication with Board members between meetings.
In addition to the social change grants, grant payments of note include the final $10,000 payment for The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library for its capital campaign and a $4,000 second year payment on a five-year $20,000 grant to the University of Minnesota Foundation for the Whittington Press collection of the University of Minnesota Libraries.
Also, the Real Change Homeless Empowerment Project in Seattle was awarded a three-year $24,000 grant for general operations. The Anoka Technical College Foundation received the fourth of five $3,000 payments for scholarships. The Muskegon Museum of Art received the final of four $5,000 payments for its capital campaign.
Anticipated in 2017 are the continued retooling of internal financial reports, continued documentation of Foundation procedures, and a written job description for the Foundation Administrator.