2018 Annual Letter

a woman holds her two children on a playground

July 2019

Dear Friends,

For nearly 73 years, the F. R. Bigelow Foundation has been deeply dedicated to investing in the communities that make up Saint Paul and the East Metro region. As a foundation, our grantmaking is shaped by partnerships, collaborations and investments that further our mission to create equitable outcomes for our communities. By investing in community-based organizations, we strive to create an environment that provides equity to all who call Saint Paul and the East Metro home.

In 2018, we made 176 grants totaling $6,798,052. The breadth of our focus areas allows us to support all the ways a community creates connections. Below are some grantmaking highlights that display our dedication to investing in our East Metro neighborhoods. View a complete list of our 2018 grantmaking.

Education & Youth Development
We support our youth and young adults by investing in high-quality education and youth development, whether in school or during out-of-school time.

A $30,000 grant went to Denden Eritrean Sport Association of Minnesota, an organization that helps young East African Americans develop skills of academic and career success. The Foundation’s funding helped build the organization’s infrastructure by hiring an executive director. This addition helped support program expansion, design improvements and delivery.

By providing funding in the area of housing, we connect individuals and families with the essentials they need to be safe, stable and independent.

A $125,000 grant to Ain Dah Yung Center (ADYC) supported the development of additional permanent housing specifically for Native youth ages 18-24 in Minnesota, located on the Green Line and near the Rapid Transit Metro bus lines. ADYC’s work is rooted in the Tribal College Movement, focused on providing education and services, and fostering shared identity built on the values, cultural strengths and spiritual traditions of Native communities. This equips the next generation for successful self-reliance.

Arts & Culture
We value how arts and culturally driven institutions strengthen our communities, and in doing so, we’ve supported organizations committed to using art as an avenue to foster new beliefs and create new spaces to learn.

A $60,000 grant given to Brownbody for management infrastructure growth. Grounded in African American diasporic perspectives, Brownbody builds artistic experiences that disrupt biased narratives and prompts audiences to engage as active participants in the journey. The Foundation’s funding helped Brownbody employ more dedicated staff including the move of their artistic director into a full-time role.

Community & Economic Development
Economic development is vital to our communities. We’ve supported organizations that not only supply our communities with resources, but also provide them with the skills to build healthy and sustainable economies.

A $25,000 grant to Metro State supported the GROW-IT Center. The GROW-IT Center works to combine the knowledge and expertise of community and scholars about sustainable production of healthy foods, accessible and equitable food systems and ecological restoration fostering an evidence-based approach to a healthier East Side of Saint Paul.

Regardless of the barriers that prevent many in our communities from accessing necessary resources, the Foundation strives to ensure that everyone has access to quality, affordable, culturally relevant services and health care.

A $20,000 grant to Muslim American Society of Minnesota (MAS) supported the Taqwa Free Dental Clinic. The clinic strives to provide free dental services to the community through assistance from volunteer dental providers. Funding from the Foundation helped in renovating the clinic facility, purchasing additional supplies and hiring a part-time assistant to support the volunteer dentists. The clinic serves community members in need of dental care and visits immigrant families who are not eligible for health care coverage.

Grantmaking is only one aspect of the F. R. Bigelow Foundation’s work. For the third year in a row, we supported the Linking Leaders Project (LLP) to assess and understand the gaps between leaders of color and leadership opportunities across sectors within the East Metro. The LLP is comprised of the following organizations: African American Leadership Forum, Council of Asian American Leaders, LatinoLEAD and Tiwahe Foundation. In 2018, we granted each organization a $100,000 grant to help build their individual networks. We also provided a $175,000 grant to the group for project management and to support a leadership race equity framework. The framework taps each partner’s expertise so that East Metro institutions remain accountable to people of color and indigenous communities.

Due to the Foundation’s initial success using the innovative funding model of Program-Related Investments (PRIs) to provide economic opportunities, we decided to use PRIs to address the growing affordable housing challenges in the East Metro. In late 2017, the Foundation granted PRIs to Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity and CommonBond Communities to preserve and create low-income rental and home ownership options for East Metro residents.

The Foundation has also started engaging in mission investing. Last year we worked to utilize our assets in a different way by working with an outside consultant to shape this effort. In the fall, the board approved the consultant team’s approach to mission investing, and planned to begin making investments in 2019.

We’d like to give a special thank you to our board for their outstanding dedication. In 2018, William Collins, Jr., Jamice Obianyo and board chair Gloria Perez completed their service. We also welcomed Erik Takeshita, Meredith Moore-Crosby and Brock Nelson to the board. Here’s to another great year of partnerships, collaborations and investment opportunities that support community.


Paul Williams
Chair, F. R. Bigelow Foundation