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
The FBI executed a search warrant at Twin Cities nonprofit Feeding our Future on Thursday, Jan. 20.

Feds investigate nonprofit Feeding Our Future for alleged fraud

The FBI says the St. Anthony-based nonprofit was part of a broad scheme to defraud the USDA of millions, funneling money from federally funded child nutrition programs to an array of entities to launder the money and use it for personal real estate, cars and other luxury items.
Habtamu Lajebo bagged food on the assembly line at the Every Meal facility in Roseville. Volunteer shifts are only half-full amid rising COVID-19 case

Twin Cities nonprofits face critical shortages of volunteers amid omicron surge

Some nonprofits are scaling back programs or turning to their own staff to work more due to shrinking volunteer ranks.
Sahan Journal employees at their co-working space in downtown St. Paul. From left to right: Jaida Grey Eagle, Ben Hovland, Andrew Hazzard, Mukhtar Ibr

St. Paul nonprofit Sahan Journal awarded $1.2 million grant from American Journalism Project

Sahan Journal is the first nonprofit news organization in Minnesota that the American Journalism Project has funded.
Robin Manthie, director of Minnesota Central Kitchen, is flanked by Bishop Richard D. Howell, Jr. left, Cargill Foundation Executive Director Michelle

Minnesota Central Kitchen reaches 2 million meals, dishing up food for people in need

The effort, which began at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, pays Minnesota chefs and restaurant workers to prepare meals for those who need them.
AmeriCorps volunteers organized and worked on distributing boxes of free food from the Harding High School parking lot in 2020 in St. Paul.

New AmeriCorps program to help welcome Afghan refugees to Minnesota

AmeriCorps members will help about 750 Afghan refugees arriving in Minnesota in the next two months.
Julie Anderson, finance manager at Community Shares of Minnesota, worked in her office Wednesday in St. Paul. Community Shares of Minnesota will shut

Minnesota nonprofits grapple with closures in the New Year

More than 300 nonprofits have closed in Minnesota during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the number of closures so far isn't a significant uptick from pre-pandemic.
Shuntay Thomas explained sound mixing to his son Brandon, 10, as they listened to music in their room in the Project Home at the Provincial House in S

Former Catholic convent opens as a new shelter for families in St. Paul

Project Home opened at the Provincial House in St. Paul to help address the housing crisis in Ramsey County.
Jackie Statum Allen, left, and Eileen Briggs are both grantmaking directors at the Bush Foundation and co-leaders of the initiative to invest $100 mil

Bush Foundation awarding $100M to narrow racial wealth gaps

Nexus Community Partners in St. Paul and NDN Collective in Rapid City, S.D., will help design and operate grant programs for Black and Native Americans.
Vehicles lined up at a food distribution event at VEAP (Volunteers Enlisted to Assist People) in Bloomington in February.

Minnesota nonprofits look for new ways to diversify their volunteer ranks

A statewide advocacy organization is pushing to re-examine how to broaden the base of organizations.
A heavily damaged neighborhood in Dawson Springs, Ky., on Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, where a tornado flattened much of the town on Friday night. After gri

Minnesota nonprofits assist with the Southern, Midwestern tornado aftermath

The local Red Cross has sent 19 volunteers from Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota to help Kentucky, Missouri and Arkansas tornado victims.
Volunteer Steve Santos of Mendota Heights mans his post during his first ever shift as a bell-ringer for The Salvation Army Friday, Nov. 12, 2021 at t

Anonymous donor drops $4,000 in Twin Cities Salvation Army red kettles

The Twin Cities Salvation Army has dubbed the mysterious philanthropist "St. Grand" for dropping $1,000 in the red kettles for 11 years in a row.
Loaves & Fishes Executive Director Cathy Maes, seen in 2017, said instead of the 20 or 30 applicants per job that she used to get pre-pandemic, now sh

Staff shortages hit nonprofits in the 'Great Resignation'

Local nonprofits are struggling to draw job applicants, looking for new ways to offer incentives to attract and retain employees.
Tonya Carlson, left, Randy Gustafson and Steve Yochim, volunteers from the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Department, wrapped and packaged gifts for the an

Roseville-based Salvation Army helps incarcerated parents give Christmas gifts to their children

The Salvation Army is resuming its special Toy Lift program, which was canceled last year due to COVID-19.
Located in northern Minnesota, the Lost 40 has preserved white and red pines that are more than 250 years old. A surveying error in 1882 saved these t

Walk among Minnesota's oldest and largest pines in this ancient forest that survived by mistake

The Lost 40 is one of the few places left in Minnesota where you can walk among giants — towering centuries-old pines.
Kathy Boone

Kathy Boone, longtime special education teacher at Groves Academy, dies at 70

Boone was a founding board member at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Minneapolis.
Kevin Lytle, left, the community and business engagement manager of PRISM, helps load gifts into the large drop boxes outside the Minneapolis Regional

Amid national toy shortage, Minnesota nonprofits seek donations for kids in need

Annual Twin Cities toy drives are navigating a second pandemic holiday season as well.
Av Gordon, center, speaks to his daughter, Abbe Bernstein, about which gravy is vegetarian before Thanksgiving dinner was served Thursday at the home

Minnesotans cautiously resume Thanksgiving celebrations despite spike in COVID cases

The second Turkey Day during the pandemic showed we're not yet fully back to pre-pandemic holiday festivities.
Winona woman killed in rollover crash

Winona woman killed in rollover crash

The crash Tuesday killed 75-year-old Esther Viola Waas.
Rebecca Patient offered five flavors of pie as part of Union Gospel Mission’s Thanksgiving Day meal in 2020.

Where Minnesotans in need can find a free Thanksgiving meal in the Twin Cities

Here is a sampling of some Twin Cities spots offering free Thanksgiving meals for Minnesotans in need.
Stan Hadiwibowo, food services director at Open Arms of Minnesota, placed an 8 1/2-pound turkey in the oven for two clients and their families that wi

With Thanksgiving coming, Minnesota nonprofits are struggling to cope with a national shortage of turkeys

Nonprofits that provide food for people in need are struggling with rising food costs and supply-chain issues causing shortages.
Pete Magnuson chatted with Marshie Allen in her home while making her Meals on Wheels delivery on Thursday in Minneapolis.

Minnesota food shelf visits slightly under record high in 2020, but edging up again

Food shelves say requests for help are spiking again as other extra help wanes.
Helping Paws, which trains assistance dogs for people with the help of volunteers like Lorrie Kantar, has taken part in every Give to the Max Day.

Minnesota nonprofits top $34 million in donations on Give to the Max Day

It's a record in the 13 years of the statewide giving "holiday."
Cathy Maes, executive director of Loaves & Fishes, a Minneapolis-based free meal program, filled out her “Spoon-ometer,” a drawing of a spoon on a

Minnesota nonprofits hit hard by COVID-19 make pitch to donors ahead of annual Give to the Max Day

Experts say donations are still higher than before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Volunteer Steve Santos of Mendota Heights greets a donor during his first ever shift as a bell-ringer for The Salvation Army Friday, Nov. 12, 2021 at

Salvation Army adds Venmo and Paypal as options for online giving amid the COVID-19 pandemic

The red kettles are back for the holiday season but the Salvation Army is also encouraging more online donations
Authorities wheel a shooting suspect to an ambulance after members of the community held him down after an innocent bystander was shot and killed in n

Man shot and killed in north Minneapolis; suspect arrested after attempted carjacking

The suspect was initially apprehended by We Push for Peace, a community outreach group.
Voters emerge from Sabathani Community Center after casting their ballots during municipal elections Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021, in Minneapolis, Minn.] DAV

Minneapolis hits record for turnout in a municipal election, with 54% of voters casting ballots

It's the third con­sec­u­tive in­crease for a city e­lec­tion.
Minneapolis voters elect seven new commissioners to Park Board

Minneapolis voters elect seven new commissioners to Park Board

Just two incumbents will be returning in January.
Jason Chavez, newly elected council member representing the Ninth Ward, celebrated hearing the results with Aurin Chowdhury, his campaign manager at t

Four Minneapolis council members who backed replacing police ousted, new progressives elected

Another four incumbents who supported the policing overhaul were re-elected.
Larry Long of Minneapolis was the first voter in line at Holy Trinity Church Tuesday, Nov. 2, to cast his vote in Ward 2 in Minneapolis.

At least two incumbents appeared on the verge of losing Minneapolis Park Board seats

All nine seats of the board were up for election, with 23 hopefuls running. Board of Estimate & Taxation races were too close to call.
Larry Long of Minneapolis was the first voter in line at Holy Trinity Church Tuesday, Nov. 2, to cast his vote in Minneapolis’ Ward 2.

Minneapolis voters head to polls for a historic Election Day

Officials predict the election — which has drawn national attention and is the first city election since Minneapolis police killed George Floyd — may surpass records for turnout.
From the left; Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and mayoral candidates Sheila Nezhad, Kate Knuth and A.J. Awed debate at an event held by TPT Almanac Oct.

Minneapolis mayoral candidates differ over how to handle future unrest

Candidates running for mayor's job say he mishandled the response to 2020 unrest. Frey said it gave him experience to handle future crises.
Incumbent Jacob Frey

Minneapolis mayoral candidates begin last week of campaigns with WCCO-TV debate

The four candidates are among 17 people vying for the mayoral position.
Election judges Kathy Bonnifield, left, and Bretaina Brigham on Friday confirmed the tabulated results from a batch of test ballots fed into a voting

Minneapolis likely surpasses early voting record

With near record number of candidates and three ballot questions, the city could be on the verge of historic high voter turnout ahead of in-person voting on Nov. 2.
Council Member Cam Gordon (left) and Council Member Kevin Reich (right) attend a City Council meeting in July 2018. ] Shari L. Gross • shari.gross@s

Newcomers vie to unseat Mpls. council members Gordon and Reich

Cam Gordon and Kevin Reich are seeking fifth and fourth City Council terms.
Michael “Mickey” Moore, one of eight candidates for the Ninth Ward of the Minneapolis City Council.

Minneapolis council candidate faces scrutiny over residency

Mickey Moore said he's long lived in the Eighth Ward but is now leasing an apartment in the Ninth to meet residency rules.
A packed room for the Minneapolis City Council meeting to vote to approve the 2040 Comprehensive Plan in 2018.] LEILA NAVIDI ¥ leila.navidi@startribu

Affordable housing among key issues in south Minneapolis City Council races

Incumbents face 10 challengers in 3 council races.
City question 2 addresses the issue of a municipal police department or department of public safety.] ANTHONY SOUFFLE • anthony.souffle@startribune.

Philanthropic foundations support groups advocating on both sides of Minneapolis' policing debate

Local philanthropies find themselves tied to both sides of policing debate.
Mike Findley and his mentor, Christopher Cary, chatted during a Queerspace Collective meeting at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.

New Minneapolis nonprofit launches LGBTQ mentoring program, one of few in U.S.

New nonprofit Queerspace Collective fills a crucial void in LGBTQ mentoring programs.
Minneapolis voters are showing support for replacing the Minneapolis Police Department with a new agency, a Minnesota poll found.

Poll: Most Minneapolis voters want reform, not fewer cops

Most city residents, white and Black, have an unfavorable view of the department, and Black voters overwhelmingly oppose officer cuts.
Luz C. Tirana-Echeverria meanders through the Rest Area Garden, part of Munsinger and Clemens Gardens in St. Cloud.

St. Cloud's riverside gardens are a 'crown jewel' of central Minnesota — and they're open to all

Munsinger Gardens is the only public garden in Minnesota that hugs the shoreline of the Mississippi River.
As the polls were about to open for the day at the Brian Coyle Center an election worker who wished to not be identified walked to place a flag outsid

Minneapolis elections highlight divide between progressive, moderate Democrats

Fractures reflect a broader gap across Minnesota and nationwide as the Democratic establishment faces intense competition from a newly energized and insurgent progressive wing of the party.
In 2020, Kyle Kvamme, communications coordinator for Open Arms of Minnesota, operated one of two cameras for a live stream as chef Yia Vang taught vie

Delta variant hits at bad time for some Minn. nonprofits

As virus cases increase, some nonprofits are canceling in-person events or implementing new safety protocols.
BFW Institute of Education & Research — also known as Pain Free Patriots — was started by former Becker Furniture World CEO Douglas Huseby.

Settlement reached with nonprofit aiding vets in alleged violation of charitable giving laws

Pain Free Patriots, Minnesota AG settle allegations that pain-relief grants benefited group's founder.
Simon Adams, the executive director of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect in New York, will be the new CEO of the St. Paul-based Cent

St. Paul-based Center for Victims of Torture names new CEO

Simon Adams will lead the Center for Victims of Torture, starting in October.
Norka Avignon Petersen, and her husband, Matt, with their son, Voltaire, live in Little Canada but have family in Haiti.

Minnesota nonprofits rally to support Haiti after deadly earthquake

After devastating quake, Minnesotans rally to help.
Awesiinyag Are Loved — a grassroots, community-led effort organized by the Red Lake Nation — held a first-ever pet clinic Aug. 16-18, offering fre

Nonprofit teams with Minnesota's Red Lake Nation to boost culturally-specific animal welfare programs

Goal is to diversify the animal welfare industry by supporting communities of color.
Ziaullah Qazizada immigrated to Bloomington from Afghanistan six years ago. His wife and three of his four children — all U.S. citizens — went bac

Wisconsin military base prepares to house Afghan refugees

Fort McCoy is one of three U.S. military bases the government is considering housing thousands of Afghan refugees.
Ziaullah Qazizada emigrated from Afghanistan six years ago. His wife and three of his four kids, all U.S. citizens, went back to visit her father in J

Minnesota prepares for influx of refugees seeking safety in U.S.

As Minnesotans with ties to Afghanistan scramble to help family and friends trapped by the turmoil, local groups are stepping up to help.
Nancy Nordgren

Nancy Nordgren, relentlessly upbeat Star Tribune copy editor, dies at 66

Stereotypes of a cynical journalist didn't fit her.
AmeriCorps volunteers organized and worked on distributing boxes of free food from the Harding High School parking lot in July 2020 in St. Paul.    ]

New AmeriCorps program in Minnesota created to respond to housing crisis

The new program still has openings for 85 AmeriCorps members.
Sunisa Lee, center, with her mom Yeev Thoj and sister Shyenne Lee, waved to the crowds during a parade Sunday in the East Side St. Paul neighborhood w

Lee's historic gold-medal win honored in St. Paul parade

The parade was a jubilant homecoming to mark Suni Lee's inspirational achievement as the first Asian and Hmong American Olympic gold medal winner in history, which has reverberated across the country.
Coach Mario Wimberly gathered players near during a morning introductory session of the five-week Sol of the Cities futsal league. All the players vol

New north Minneapolis futsal league unites kids by reinventing pay-for-play sports model

The Sol of the Cities league, which ends Sunday, brings together more than 120 kids ages 8 to 16 from across the Twin Cities, coached by volunteers.
In 2020, 25 nonprofits stopped by Greater Twin Cities United Way to pick up kits of household supplies given to homeless Twin Cities families as they

Twin Cities United Way's declining revenue slowed in 2020 as nonprofit faced needs in pandemic

United Way was seeing a drop in workplace giving campaigns pre-pandemic, and COVID accelerated the drop. But other revenue offset it.
Volunteers loaded boxes for 84 metro area nonprofits and school districts receiving school supplies at the annual Greater Twin Cities United Way’s d

Salvation Army, United Way school supply drives back on after pause for COVID

The large nonprofits are among many across Minnesota aiming to collect more school supplies to meet the need.
In this May 12, 2021 file photo, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, speaks during a hearing. (Pete Marovich/The New York Times via AP, Pool)

Push for charitable giving reforms divides Minnesota nonprofits, foundations

A U.S. Senate bill mirrors a national push for charitable tax reforms.
Amherst H. Wilder Foundation’s headquarters is located in St. Paul off University Avenue.

Wilder Research head Paul Mattessich announces retirement

Mattessich will retire in 2022 after four decades with the St. Paul nonprofit.
Authorities recover body from Mississippi River in Minneapolis

Authorities recover body from Mississippi River in Minneapolis

Authorities recovered a body from the Mississippi River in Minneapolis on Monday night.Minneapolis firefighters and the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office Water Patrol Unit responded to…
A St. Paul Police officer gathered up crime scene tape in the Mac-Groveland neighborhood on Monday after a man was found shot in a vehicle. He later d

Police investigate homicide in St. Paul's Mac-Groveland

St. Paul police are investigating a homicide after a man was found shot multiple times in a vehicle Monday in the Macalester-Groveland neighborhood.
Rising lumber costs and supply shortages have hampered Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, contributing to an increase in construction costs of 20% this

High construction prices hit Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity

Economy forces Habitat for Humanity to scale back projects
Monique Cullars-Doty speaks during a press conference at City Hall on Thursday, July 22, 2021, in Minneapolis. On November 4, 2020, the largest mass a

Protesters demand Minneapolis attorney drops charges after more than 600 people were arrested last November

More than 600 people were arrested on I-94, most of which carry misdemeanor charges.
Sean Malone, new president of the George Family Foundation in Minneapolis, starts the job Aug. 23.

George Family Foundation in Minneapolis names new leader

The foundation started by former Medtronic CEO Bill George and his wife Penny has named a new president, the second person who is not a…
Associated Press/Rebecca Blackwell Wilted flowers and messages of love decorate a rain-soaked memorial Monday for the victims of the Champlain Towers

State doesn't inspect condos, but building codes are 'robust'

Some Minnesota officials are fielding calls after the Miami condo collapse, but bigger challenges here include snow load and fire.
Fresh produce offered by Mary Le from her stand on the Nicollet Mall.] JEFF WHEELER • Jeff.Wheeler@startribune.com

Market Bucks program for low-income Minnesotans wins state funding

The $325K program encourages patronage of farmers markets by low-income Minnesotans.
Jon Pratt (left), outgoing executive director of the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and Nonoko Sato, (right), the new executive director. Pratt found

Minnesota Council of Nonprofits announces new executive director

Nonoko Sato is the second executive director in the council's three decades, succeeding Jon Pratt.
Brett Buckner reacted during a 24-hour telethon to raise $50,000 for Seeds to Harvest after resource director Alyssa Nelson threw a pie in his face af

New coalition boosts activities to keep North Side kids safe, active

It's been a tough year. A new North Commons Park program is here to help with summer games.
Leaders from the new St. Croix Valley Food Bank in Hudson, Wis., and Second Harvest Heartland in the Twin Cities signed a contract June 23 to share re

New Hudson food bank aims to meet growing need for food in western Wisconsin

The food bank will purchase food from Second Harvest Heartland to help stock its shelves.
Kids and staff at the Minneapolis downtown YWCA marched in there building to recognize the enormous value that women of all backgrounds add to our soc

YWCA Minneapolis names University of Minnesota attorney as new CEO

The Minneapolis nonprofit's new leader, Shelley Carthen Watson, starts Aug. 9.
Many Minnesota nonprofits during the pandemic had to rely on virtual events and fundraisers. In April 2020, Kyle Kvamme at Open Arms of Minnesota oper

Minnesota nonprofits shift to hybrid fall fundraisers, offering both online and in-person galas or events

Online, in-person combined events will be the norm this fall, and possibly for good.
Judge Peter Cahill at the beginning of Derek Chauvin’s sentencing hearing, June 25, 2021.

Sentence is not based on emotion or public opinion, judge says

"You have our sympathies," Cahill tells Floyd family.
Carolyn Pawlenty, mother of Derek Chauvin, speaking during Derek Chauvin’s sentencing hearing Friday, June 25, 2021.

Former officer Derek Chauvin gives condolences to George Floyd's family in brief statement

Chauvin has "played over and over in his head the events of that day," his mother, Carolyn Pawlenty, said.
Gianna Floyd, George Floyd's daughter, gives her victim impact statement to the court Friday, June 25, 2021.

'Our family is forever broken,' George Floyd's family says at sentencing

Jurors convicted former officer Derek Chauvin on April 20.
A police car with lights on. (Irwin Thompson/The Dallas Morning News/TNS)

Minnesota police departments hand out vouchers instead of tickets for broken car lights thanks to a Minneapolis nonprofit

Expanded MicroGrants program aims to repair lights and relationships.
Fresh produce offered by Mary Le from her stand on the Nicollet Mall.     ]   JEFF WHEELER • Jeff.Wheeler@startribune.com  The Nicollet Mall farmer�

Nonprofits lobby Legislature to fund program that helps low-income residents buy at farmers' markets

Market Bucks, which helps low-income Minnesotans buy fresh foods at farmers' markets, runs out of funding June 30.
Volunteer Becky Geyer, of Edina, filled boxes of food as she volunteered with her mother Diane Haider, of Lake Elmo, left, at the Twin Cities Salvatio

Salvation Army launches summer fundraiser, rappelling down Mall of America roof

The Salvation Army has seen more donations during the pandemic but said more is needed to meet rising demands.
Shawnda Henderson, of Minneapolis, rode the Giant slide with her daughter Mira on the last day of the Kickoff to Summer at the Fair event in May at th

Sweet news: The Minnesota State Fair will be back this year

Attendance won't be limited and masks won't be required.