Staff Directory 6370508

Kelly Smith

Reporter | Nonprofits, charity and philanthrophy
Phone: 612-673-4141

Kelly Smith covers nonprofits/philanthropy for the Star Tribune and is based in Minneapolis. Since 2010, she’s covered Greater Minnesota on the state/region team, Hennepin County government, west metro suburban government and west metro K-12 education.

Smith was born in Duluth and grew up in the Twin Cities. She graduated from the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, Minn., and worked for the Forum newspaper in Fargo, N.D., before coming to the Star Tribune in 2010.
Recent content from Kelly Smith
FILE — An e-cigarette user in Manhattan, Dec. 18, 2018. Health officials have recommended that people refrain from using e-cigarettes as they invest

More Minnesota students vape marijuana despite increasing campaigns against e-cigarettes

Minnesota has launched a new free program to help teens quit smoking.
Minneapolis fire inspectors tested alarms as they made their way through Avivo Village. Final preparations were in the works for a March 8 opening.

'Tiny house' indoor village for the homeless opens March 8 in Minneapolis

The two-year pilot program, called Avivo Village, could become a post-pandemic template for private emergency shelters in place of the usual congregate sleeping spaces.
fewer to serve: Turtle Lake Food Pantry volunteers from left, Dawn Nelson, Wayne Kendrick and food pantry director Sheldon Fredrick prepared to load u

Rural food shelves see unexpected dip even as food stamp use rises

Hunger isn't fading in rural regions. Many may be relying on pop-up food distributions as well as federal aid in stimulus checks, bolstered unemployment assistance and extra money in food stamps.
A Dakota language class walked the grounds of the Lower Sioux Historical Site in 2017. The tribe hopes to draw more visitors to learn its history.

In an unprecedented step, Minnesota returns 114 acres to Lower Sioux Indian Community

The Native community sought to reclaim the land for decades.
Kash Meggison, 3, helped pass out canned food Friday at a San Antonio Food Bank drive-through food distribution site held at Rackspace Technology in S

Minnesota organizations boost aid for Texans in aftermath of winter storm

Some Best Buy employees in Texas will get grants.
Clara Slayhi

Clara Slayhi, globe-trotter who worked for U.S. embassies, dies of COVID-19 at age 91

In a tiny town tucked in the farm fields of North Dakota, Clara Slayhi dreamed as a little girl of trekking to the far-flung countries…
Kenny Smith and Jan Sautler loaded food into trunks and tailgates during the distribution.  Over 300 cars lined up around the block by New Creation Lu

Minnesota food shelves ended 2020 with record visitors, and more of them are older adults

The state's food shelves saw a nearly 7% increase in visitors in 2020, almost double the usual rise.
Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota operates programs and services in North Dakota and other states and oversees its own Senior Companion Program in

Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota adopts North Dakota program that helps older adults

Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota is taking on North Dakota's Senior Companion Program.
In Minneapolis on Thursday January 28, 2021, volunteers (l to r) Matt Helbling, Kim Vipond, and Helbling’s spouse’s Jen put together food boxes th

Twin Cities food drives find new ways to reach needy families

Health clinics, churches, rec centers step in to fill empty stomachs in hard times
The Amherst H. Wilder Foundation’s headquarters is located in St. Paul.

St. Paul Chamber adopts diversity program eliminated by Wilder

Wilder Foundation eliminated nine programs in 2020 budget cuts.
Volunteer Sheila Dingels of Minneapolis sanitized her workspace after her volunteer shift back in May at Second Harvest Heartland in Brooklyn Park. ]

In-person volunteering slowly returns in Minnesota after COVID surge

State's largest food banks resume volunteer shifts.
Rose McGee, founder of Sweet Potato Comfort Pie, gently slid a tray of four of at least 92 decorated pies into the oven at Breck School in Golden Vall

Golden Valley nonprofit offers hope and sweet potato pie for MLK Day

Rose McGee and her nonprofit, Sweet Potato Comfort Pie, will hand out 92 pies for the holiday.
A teddy bear sat along with art supplies against a defaced window in one of the bedrooms at St. Joseph’s Home for Children. ] ANTHONY SOUFFLE • an

Former Minneapolis orphanage becomes homeless women's shelter

Catholic Charities closed St. Joseph's Home for Children last year. The Salvation Army is temporarily leasing it.
Brooklyn Center Fire Chief Todd Berg, right, talked about the winter meals program with Rob Williams, executive director of Every Meal, at the fire st

Roseville nonprofit expands free food pick-up sites for Minnesotans in need

As hunger crisis grows, Every Meal gets creative with its meal distribution across the state.
Abuse survivors Laura Stearns and Jina Penn-Tracy, center, were at a 2019 news conference with attorneys Molly Burke, left, and Jeff Anderson and CTC�

New nonprofit runs fund for survivors of Children's Theatre abuse

The theatre company agreed to start the fund with a $500,000 payment.
Survivors Laura Stearns and Jina Penn-Tracy rested their heads together at the end of a 2019 press conference where Attorney Jeff Anderson announced s

New nonprofit runs fund for survivors of Children's Theatre abuse

The Children's Theatre Company agreed to start the fund with $500,000.
Nancy Dillon

Nancy Dillon, Minneapolis VA nurse and mental health advocate, dies at 74

Nancy Dillon was a fierce advocate for Minnesotans experiencing mental illness, bolstering the often overlooked psychiatric nursing field in Minnesota's health care system. As a…
Every police-involved death in Minnesota since 2000

Every police-involved death in Minnesota since 2000

The Star Tribune collected the names and stories of everyone who died after a physical confrontation with law enforcement in Minnesota since January 2000, and continues to update this database as new incidents occur.
Hundreds of volunteers showed up to clean along University Avenue on May 29. New research by a statewide organization shows disparities in volunteerin

Group pushes to diversify volunteering at Minnesota nonprofits

Nonprofits want to recruit more people of color, but many already help in church, school, sports.
bringing connection and hope: Mary Kay Sobcinski, left, a volunteer with Minneapolis-based Little Brothers-Friends of the Elderly, sat with Fathie Bro

Minnesota nonprofits boost programs to combat senior isolation during COVID-19 pandemic

Nonprofits strive to keep older adults active amid pandemic
Cathy Burns, an employee with the City of Minneapolis, handed out food items  while volunteering in north Minneapolis Saturday. ] aaron.lavinsky@start

2020 draws unprecedented generosity in Minnesota, but what about 2021?

While Minnesota dropped in some year-end rankings of most-generous states, the lists are only one measure of the giving spirit in a year unlike any other.
Mark Dayton, then a Minnesota Senator, speaks with Jon Pratt, executive director of Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, in 2003 in his Washington, D.C. o

'Godfather' of Minnesota's nonprofit movement steps down

Jon Pratt, who has led the state Council of Nonprofits for three decades, will stay on as a research fellow.
Reidun Harris, 43, of Minneapolis picked up a box of food at  Victory Outreach church. Sylvia Reese organized an effort to get food and other supplies

Grassroots efforts spring up to help Twin Cities families in need

Impulse to help is leading to longer-term efforts for lasting change.
James Gottfried, a frequent volunteer, filled a box with food at the Food Group in New Hope.

More Minnesotans visited food shelves in 2020 than in any year

Some food shelves are seeing double or triple the number of people in need. And the need is expected through 2021.
MacKenzie Scott

Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, Jeff Bezos' ex, gives $25 million to Minnesota nonprofits

Mackenzie Scott, former wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, said she gave $4 billion in four months.
Tonya Allen will start March 1 as the new CEO of the McKnight Foundation in Minneapolis ORG XMIT: KWaEWxzRAYwSAkul8Ap6

McKnight Foundation in Minneapolis names new leader

Tonya Allen will start March 1, heading the foundation that gives more than $100 million a year.
Registration is paused for the Luminary Loppet, which usually draws 10,000 on frozen city lakes.

Former state leader tapped to run the Loppet Foundation in Minneapolis

Claire Wilson, a former state leader at the Department of Human Services, starts Dec. 14.
CAPI’s Asian-specific food shelf in Brooklyn Park, has been meeting the cultural and nutritional needs of approximately 450 low-income Asian familie

Minnesota foundations boosted giving in 2020 to respond to COVID-19, racial injustice

A new report released Tuesday also shows the latest trends in philanthropy in the state.
Salvation Army red kettle bell ringer Douglas Schandler, shown in 2019 at the Cub Foods in Roseville.

Anonymous donor drops $1,600 in Salvation Army's Twin Cities red kettles again this year

The donor known as St. Grand has given nearly $140,000 to the Salvation Army since 2011.
Volunteers worked through a huge pile of donated new toys, sorting them into bins marked for girls and boys of different age groups.

Twin Cities toy drives face volunteer, toy shortages due to COVID-19

While some volunteer events went virtual, toy drives still need in-person help.
Second Harvest Heartland in Brooklyn Park is one of the beneficiaries of the Walk to End Hunger.

Annual Walk to End Hunger goes virtual, falls short of $250K goal

In all, $208,000 was donated to support nine organizations.
Jacob Bernstein and his wife, Anna Taddei, carried food from the home of Av Gordon. The family with a long tradition of big family get-togethers at Th

Minnesota families retool Thanksgiving traditions amid pandemic

They streamed to Plymouth from across the Twin Cities, on their way to pick up plastic containers of carrots, foil-wrapped platters of turkey and homemade…
Salvation Army Lt. Col. Dan Jennings, the divisional commander overseeing operations Minnesota and North Dakota, spoke at a news conference Nov. 13 to

Annual holiday toy drives shift to virtual efforts

Pandemic pushing many nonprofit activities online.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the Minnesota Historical Society’s Oliver Kelley Farm grew food that has all gone to an Elk River food shelf. Here,

Historic Oliver Kelley Farm in Elk River grows 9,000 pounds of produce to donate to food shelf

The Oliver Kelley Farm transformed its educational gardens into victory gardens benefiting people in need.
Tommy Holmes smiles and chats with Linda Brady after receiving his meals at his home in Hamilton Manor in 2018 from Community Emergency Services (CES)

Nonprofits push for more government help as COVID aid expires

With CARES funding set to expire, state groups say the need for aid is dire.
Nadia Al-Yasin showed My Very Own Bed founder Michael Allen a book she chose for a child as she was putting together a bed ensemble.

Give to the Max Day draws record $30.5 million

Minnesotans' outpouring of generosity in the midst of a pandemic catapulted the final tally for the annual Give to the Max Day to…
Volunteer Jenny Thai stood on a loading dock with the multiple bags of sheets, blankets, books and toys which were delivered to childen through My Ver

Minnesotans set a Give to the Max Day record, giving $30 million

Despite the pandemic, Give to the Max donations soared past last year's tally.
Volunteer Janessa Rosenfield of Hopkins packed apples into boxes at Second Harvest Heartland, where starting Thursday all volunteer opportunities will

Minnesota nonprofits brace for a worse 2021

A new report shows 40% of nonprofit employees filed for unemployment in 2020; volunteer shortage looms.
Cathy Maes, executive director at Loaves & Fishes, a Minneapolis-based free meal program, hopes donors will make up the money normally raised in a gal

Give to the Max Day aims to boost donations for Minn. nonprofits as COVID-19 strains budgets

Nonprofits are depending on Give to the Max Day to make up for lost fundraisers
Michael Osterholm

National fund started in Minnesota for families of health care workers who died of COVID

Epidemiologist Michael Osterholm says the goal is to raise millions to pay for funerals, other expenses.
Shaunte Houston of Minneapolis picked out toys for her three children at the Salvation Army Toy Shop last year.

From free Thanksgiving meals to Christmas toy drives, nonprofits retool traditions

Meals and toys will mostly be prepackaged, distributed using drive-throughs.
Doug and Kathy Dunmire host homeless youth in their Inver Grove Heights home through a program that Dakota County and the YMCA of the North would like

Dakota County program gives homeless youth a safe place

Dakota County, like other places in Minnesota, is seeing a rise in homelessness.
Volunteers loaded boxes for 84 metro area nonprofits and school districts receiving school supplies at the annual Greater Twin Cities United Way’s d

Twin Cities United Way revenue dropped $7M in 2019

The nonprofit has increased services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Catholic Charities CEO Tim Marx showed a rendering in 2017 of the building that would replace the old Dorothy Day Center in St. Paul.

Catholic Charities names former Minneapolis schools leader Michael Goar as new CEO

Former Big Brothers chief comes to job at critical era.
Volunteers Russell Calloway, left, Janie Rogers, center, and Erin Que packed food at a Salvation Army food distribution event at its Citadel service c

Nonprofits face volunteer shortage as virus cases rise and holidays near

Holidays are a critical time for outreach, and nonprofits are asking for help.
Volunteer Rich Larsen waved goodbye after he handed meals to a drive-up client at the Loaves and Fishes distribution site at Hope Presbyterian Church

Hennepin County backs Minnesota Central Kitchen as COVID-19 hunger crisis grows

Nonprofit agency on pace to top 1 million free meals served to Minnesotans.
Davia “Machine” Holmes, 16, shadow boxes at Northside Boxing Club, which received a grant to support youth healing through fitness and education.

Minnesota foundations are boosting racial justice work after George Floyd's death

Charitable organizations are now bolstering their racial justice work — from diversifying leadership to retooling grants.
The five mini-cabins at Cuyuna Cove abut a popular state recreation area.

COVID-cation options in Minnesota include new tiny cabins and grain silos

Surprising lodging offerings in central Minnesota are perfect for social-distancing vacations.
In 2019, Jamie Millard, executive director of Pollen Midwest, spent time with her 6-month-old daughter Dani in the nursing room as she waited for her

Some Minnesota nonprofits give employees time off to cope with 2020 fatigue

Long workdays, endless juggling lead some nonprofit bosses to boost paid time off.
Hien Bui, an EMT with M Health Fairview and registered nurse, administered a COVID-19 test during a free testing event at New Salem Baptist Church in

Salvation Army outbreak sickens a third of those at conference

Twenty Salvation Army staff from Minnesota and North Dakota tested positive for COVID-19 after 62 people attended a recent conference in northern Minnesota, underscoring how easily the virus can spread.
Minnesota's National Black Police Association chapter boosts outreach in wake of George Floyd's death

Minnesota's National Black Police Association chapter boosts outreach in wake of George Floyd's death

The state group, one of 23 in the U.S., has also focused on mentoring and diversifying hiring as well as increasing mental health help for officers.
Gloria Jean Kiester, 87, died Oct. 5. She was a longtime St. Olaf music teacher and Northfield resident.

Gloria Kiester, longtime St. Olaf music instructor and global traveler, dies at 87

"Music was the heartbeat of her life," a niece said.
A new emergency shelter for teens who are 15 to 19 years old called the Loft Shelter opened in 2018. The shelter, opened by the nonprofit Life House,

New report shows Minnesota LGBTQ teens and adults overrepresented in homeless population

Advocates say the foundation's work shows a gap in state resources.
Valerie Castile, the mother of Philando Castile, stood for a photo in front of a mural of her son during a rally for Philando Castile outside St. Anth

Philando Castile's mom honored for anti-racism work by St. Paul & Minnesota Foundation

She was one of four to receive the foundation's 14th annual Facing Race Awards.
Robert Marbut Jr., head of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, spoke Tuesday during a tour of Union Gospel Mission’s Naomi Family Residenc

Trump appointee visits Twin Cities homeless encampments, shelters

Top federal official Robert Marbut Jr. lauded the state's efforts to protect the vulnerable.
Kathy Thammavongsa talked with workers as they loaded her car with food items during a “Fuel the Vote” event Saturday.

Minnesota nonprofits boost voter outreach for 2020 election

From Zoom workshops to phone banking, fresh strategies are aimed at groups who are often left out.
Loaves & Fishes, a Minneapolis nonprofit that provides free meals to people in need, is one of the nonprofits that has seen the number of individual d

Minnesota nonprofits worry about 'donor fatigue' during COVID-19 as they kick off year-end fundraising

Nonprofits hope donors rally after a record year.
Veteran Salvation Army red kettle bell ringer Douglas Schandler worked in Roseville in 2019.

Salvation Army launches red kettle campaign early, pivots to focus on online giving during COVID-19 pandemic

The nonprofit is even hoping to push online giving through its annual red kettles with QR codes directing people online.
Red Cross volunteers in Oregon made wildfire clean up kits with items like gloves, trash bags, face masks, a shovel and rake. The kits also include si

Minnesota Red Cross seeks volunteers as crises escalate across U.S.

Julie Buerkle boarded a plane Saturday bound for Florida, but not for the beach. With travel plans nixed during the pandemic, the Roseville 54-year-old found…
During his speech Friday night in Bemidji, President Donald Trump praised Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee by saying: "He would have won, except for Get

Trump's praise of Robert E. Lee gets pushback from Minnesotans proud of state's role at Gettysburg

Minnesota soldiers played a pivotal role at Gettysburg, a major Confederate loss.
Rendering of the dome and new athletic fields outside the Conway Community Center in St. Paul as the Sanneh Foundation looks to expand year-round acti

Sanneh Foundation adds new athletic fields, dome for year-round sports in St. Paul

Sanneh Foundation's first-class facility gives St. Paul kids a leg up with sports.
Children who attend Dodge Nature Preschool enjoy outdoor classrooms all year round, with plenty of activities.

Dodge Nature Center in West St. Paul aims to raise $40M in largest fundraiser ever

Twin Cities nonprofit seeks more visitors to nature center and trails.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison.

Minnesota AG Keith Ellison bans group from seeking donations in state

The state of Minnesota is banning an organization from soliciting donations that scammed residents into thinking they were donating to support people in need. A…
Minnesota firefighters are among crews helping contain the Bobcat fire, which has burned more than 26,000 acres northeast of Los Angeles.

More than 70 Minnesotans deployed to assist Western wildfires

Firefighters, support crew members and Red Cross volunteers are working in several areas devastated by raging wildfires.
George Floyd

George Floyd's family launches foundation on social change

The family of George Floyd has launched a nonprofit foundation and will make the formal announcement Sunday during the annual National Homeless Day event in Minneapolis.
Rendering of Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board concept design for Kenilworth channel

Mpls. Park Board plans $1M rehab of Cedar, Lake of the Isles channel

The project will replace crumbling retaining walls, add flowers, shrubs.
Oliver Kelley Farm employees Donna Schaefer, right, and John Hanson harvested vegetables Thursday in Elk River. Since spring, the farm has grown nearl

Retooled Kelley farm becomes pandemic victory garden

Since spring, the farm has grown nearly 7,000 pounds of food that has all gone to a local food shelf.
Volunteers worked at the Sheridan Story on Thursday in Roseville. It’s trying to raise $1.8 million for 100,000 weekly meals for students.

Minnesota nonprofits plead for more help as hunger crisis surges

More are needing help, especially after the extra unemployment aid ended.
Loppet executive director John Munger, pictured in Theodore Wirth Park, said he is leaving the nonprofit in “good hands.”

Loppet Foundation leader elevated Nordic skiing in Minn., revitalized Wirth Park

For 18 years, the Loppet leader elevated Nordic skiing and access to the outdoors.
Erich Mische, executive director of Spare Key, will begin on Aug. 27 a two-month, 1,700-mile journey down the Mississippi River to Baton Rouge, La., o

Revenue declines have Minnesota nonprofits looking for a boost amid 'Zoom fatigue'

Some organizations worry they may not survive the economic crisis.
Volunteer Megan Yoshida organizes school supplies for the Greater Twin Cities United Way’s Action Day in 2016.

United Way's largest volunteer event — filling school backpacks for needy kids — shifts to home

About 3,000 volunteers filled backpacks at home.
Mechanics Zach Stuen, right, and John Buttner work at the Lift Garage on East Lake Street, where many businesses were burned to the ground in May. The

Nonprofit auto shop looks to expand to meet growing need after unrest in Minneapolis

The Lift Garage survived violence on East Lake Street with help from volunteers, customers and even strangers.
The Douglas Dayton YMCA gym in downtown Minneapolis.

Twin Cities YMCA announces name change to YMCA of the North

The Y has buildings, programs and camps in the metro, southeastern and northern Minnesota, and western Wisconsin.
Election judge Jill Judlin, right, explained the voting procedure and ballot to Eden Prairie resident Don Wegmiller, who cast an absentee vote at Eden

After loss of newspaper, Eden Prairie residents look to launch nonprofit news website

In response to the closing of the suburb's weekly newspaper, a group has launched the Eden Prairie Local News Group.
Tenley VerStrate, 6, played Thursday in one of the new featured areas that are separated by tape during a “test run” at the Minnesota Children’s

Minnesota museums reopening as they struggle to survive during COVID-19

Some museums won't outlast the crisis, a new national study predicts.