A foundation that started with proceeds from Minnesota’s landmark tobacco settlement 20 years ago has announced its latest grant recipients and a new scholarship program dedicated to helping African-American college students.
The newly renamed Ciresi Walburn Foundation for Children agreed to give more than $1.7 million to local schools, nonprofits and a new scholarship program this year.
The foundation, formerly known as the Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi Foundation for Children, changed its name last year to recognize the two attorneys — Michael V. Ciresi and Roberta B. Walburn — who led the lawsuit against tobacco companies. Under the historic deal, tobacco companies agreed to pay the state and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota more than $6 billion.
Since then, the foundation has awarded more than $24 million in grants including those announced Monday.
The foundation gave money to several Minnesota groups this year, including $50,000 for the Children’s Theatre Company; $100,000 for Summit Academy OIC; and $125,000 for Way to Grow, an early childhood education, home-visiting program.
“All children can learn, and all children are our children,” Ciresi, the foundation’s board chairman, said in a statement. “… We have a collective responsibility to educate all of our children regardless of their race, religion or family income.”
One2One Mentoring, which will receive $20,000 for pairing about 180 middle school students in Brooklyn Park to mentors at a local community college, is one of the organizations receiving funding for the first time.
“What we’re trying to do is strengthen the entire relational world around the kids we serve,” Stefan Van Voorst, One2One’s founder and executive director, said in a statement. “The more we strengthen those relationships, the more connected the students are going to be to their classrooms, and the more successful they’re going to be in school.”
This year, the Ciresi Walburn Foundation also launched a college scholarship and leadership program for African-American men who are in their junior and senior year of college. The initial gift of $361,000 over two years will help pay for a 12-week leadership class, as well as money toward school, mentoring and career opportunities. The first cohort of students are from the University of St. Thomas and Augsburg University.