The McKnight Foundation will announce Tuesday that it's going to double down on its long-standing commitment to a greener economy and a more "equitable and inclusive" Minnesota economy.
"We believe that the global climate crisis and racial disparities in our home state pose some of the greatest challenges today," McKnight President Kate Wolford said in a statement e-mailed to McKnight stakeholders Monday night. "They are challenges that compel us to respond with the urgency and resources they warrant and with the abundance of imagination and fortitude they require."
Wolford said in an interview that McKnight, which donates nearly $90 million a year, about two-thirds of which goes to Minnesota organizations, will double its commitment to climate-related initiatives from $15 million to $30 million over the next couple of years.
More than 20 years ago, McKnight invested in clean-energy advocates that helped pave the way for Minnesota to embrace production through wind, solar and efficiencies that have been adapted by the state's electrical utilities.
Wolford said it's important to move on electric vehicles and efficient buildings over the next decade while Minnesota and the Midwest, still considered the sixth-largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions in the world, establish themselves as leaders in cutting carbon pollution from all sources by 2030 "to stave off the worst consequences of climate change."
Wolford noted that a cleaner Minnesota is synonymous with a faster-growing economy and healthier people. Some sources estimate the state's "clean tech" jobs are growing about 5% annually, from wind-farm technicians to software personnel at building-controls firms, double the overall rate of state job growth.
Wolford said McKnight increasingly will emphasize the importance of diversity and inclusion through its arts, economic development and other programs. McKnight was a significant funder of the Itasca Group study that first identified the Twin Cities' gaps in education and income between whites and minorities.
She said partnering to increase training and employment of minorities is not only the right thing to do, but an economic imperative. The emerging workforce, replacing baby boomers, is disproportionately minorities.
Wolford didn't specify program cuts other than to say McKnight would phase out of its 30-year commitment to reclaiming the Mississippi River, as a host of community and environmental stewards have stepped up. There also will be some cuts downstream in the regional and community grants programs over time.
"We're confident that the solution will enrich the social and economic future of our state, our region, and planet … living into the McKnight mission, which is to advance a more just, creative and abundant future where people and planet thrive," Wolford said in the e-mailed statement to McKnight stakeholders.