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
Hero Pascal got excited to jump into the brand new V3 Sports pool n Minneapolis. The 25-yard swimming and training pool will soon be open to the publi

V3 Sports opens new north Minneapolis aquatics center this spring

The first phase of the $97 million aquatics and sports center is opening this spring, and with a June grand opening.
Rebecca Crooks-Stratton of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community says there are "no modern Indians in textbooks."

Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community wraps up campaign to change Minnesota schools' perspectives on Native Americans

The Understand Native Minnesota campaign, which launched in 2019, has funded grants, research, new curriculum and training for teachers.
Minnesotans tailgated in Naples, Fla. in 1990.

What's the story behind the Minnesota communities in Arizona and Florida?

Even far away from their home state, Minnesotans often find each other.
Aimee Bock, the executive director of the nonprofit Feeding Our Future, spoke to the Star Tribune Jan. 27, 2022, days after her St. Anthony nonprofit

Feeding Our Future leader alleges a Minnesota Department of Education cover-up

Aimee Bock, who is criminally charged in the Feeding Our Future case, alleges that Education Department employees used burner phones and misspelled messages to hide information from a civil lawsuit the nonprofit filed over stopped payments.
Gov. Tim Walz greets tax preparation volunteers at the nonprofit Prepare and Prosper in St. Paul on Monday.

How to get free tax help and receive Minnesota's new $1,750 child tax credit

The new child tax credit is the highest in the country, helping an estimated 300,000 families in the state.
The Diana E. Murphy United States Courthouse building in downtown Minneapolis.

Burnsville grocery store owner charged in Feeding Our Future case

Hoda Abdi was charged Thursday with wire fraud, the 61st person to be charged or indicted.
Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Brooke Cunningham speaks during a press conference at the Ramsey County WIC Office with U.S. Agricultu

Thousands of Minnesota women, infants could lose access to federal program due to stagnant funding

On Thursday, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited Minnesota to urge Congress to fully fund the Women, Infants and Children supplemental nutrition program, or it will face funding cuts for the first time in 25 years.
Hot dish 2/1/24

Hot dish 2/1/24

Plus: Most of Minnesota's House delegation joined a bipartisan effort to approve a tax cut package.
Gov. Tim Walz was joined by corporate and nonprofit leaders and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan to support Second Harvest Heartland's new "Make Hunger History

Target, Cargill pledge $10 million each to Second Harvest Heartland's new plan to cut hunger in Minnesota

Second Harvest's new "Make Hunger History" plan could cost more than $150 million over the next six years in new staffing and programs.
A crew filmed a commercial for Explore Minnesota at the Market at Malcolm Yards in Minneapolis on Friday.

Minnesota funnels 'historic' $25 million to boost marketing the state to tourists, new residents

The Legislature approved the first funding increase to Explore Minnesota in more than a decade. The funding will support new campaigns to market Minnesota to travelers and prospective residents.
Volunteers Sue Weber, from left, Tracy Rahmig and Phil Soucheray packaged onions at Second Harvest Heartland in Brooklyn Park on Thursday.

Second Harvest Heartland grows to push ambitious plan to reduce hunger in Minnesota

The Twin Cities food bank is adding new data, policy and outreach staff in a broad new plan to cut hunger in half by 2030.
The new state flag, courtesy of the State Emblems Redesign Commission.

New Minnesota state flag becomes partisan issue in 2024

Republicans plan to introduce legislation to put the final Minnesota state flag design to a public vote.
Volunteer Lisa Polzin helps pack more than 40 boxes of groceries to be delivered to area families in need of food assistance Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024 at

Minnesota hits a new record for food shelf visits

More Minnesotans visited food shelves in 2023 than any year in recent history. More residents are also relying on food stamps than any year since 2016 as stagnant wages and rising costs bust budgets.
R.T. Rybak, president and CEO of the Minneapolis Foundation.

Activists urge Minneapolis Foundation to rescind 2022 donation to Alpha News

Activists want the Minneapolis Foundation to rescind the donor's $11,500 grant to Alpha News, which they say may have been used to make the film "The Fall of Minneapolis."
Sharon Ross, who ran the St. Paul nonprofit House of Refuge, walked out of U.S. District Court on Wednesday with her attorney Earl Gray. Ross changed

Former St. Paul nonprofit leader pleads guilty in Feeding Our Future case

Sharon Ross led St. Paul nonprofit House of Refuge and could face three years in prison for wire fraud.
Among the new laws, landlords must include all fees in the total cost of rent on the first page of the lease, and heat units to at least 68 degrees.

New Minnesota laws aim to bolster protections for renters

State law changes include adding a grace period before evictions and requiring landlords to give 24 hours' notice before entering a unit.
The DFL-controlled Legislature had one of the most consequential sessions in state history, with a flood of progressive policies and new spending. Man

How new state laws will affect Minnesotans starting Jan. 1

Many laws take effect on the first day of 2024, from new gun safety rules to a requirement that workplaces offer sick time.
Kate Barr, CEO of Propel Nonprofits in Minneapolis, is retiring in January.

Meet the leader who's helped hundreds of Minnesota nonprofits with financial advice

Kate Barr, a former banking executive, is retiring in January after leading Propel Nonprofits for 23 years.
CEO Tawanna Black of the Center for Economic Inclusion

The Center for Economic Inclusion in St. Paul cuts staffing

The nonprofit cited declining donations and increasing expenses.
The U.S. Federal Courthouse in Minneapolis.

Feeding Our Future defendant cannot travel to Saudi Arabia, judge rules

U.S. Magistrate Judge Tony Leung rejected Hamdi Hussein Omar's request to make the trip.
Gov. Tim Walz and Sen. Heather Gustafson met with law enforcement leaders at a Lino Lakes fire station Thursday to discuss the $300 million in state f

Public safety agencies across Minnesota receive $300 million boost from state

The money will go to fire, police and emergency agencies statewide next week.
St. Grand has struck again, this time dropping $1,000 in hundred-dollar bills in a red kettle in Coon Rapids.

St. Grand is back, dropping $1,000 cash in a Salvation Army red kettle in Coon Rapids

The Twin Cities Salvation Army found a $1,000 donation of cash bills rolled up in a red kettle in Coon Rapids on Tuesday.
Glen Taylor announced at a news conference Tuesday in Mankato that he was donating $172 million worth of farmland to a foundation that will generate i

Billionaire Glen Taylor announces a new charitable mission for 2024

The Mankato businessman and Star Tribune owner will rent out his farmland, valued at $172 million, and donate the proceeds to charities and southern Minnesota communities.
Judges approve nine Feeding Our Future defendants' requests to travel

Judges approve nine Feeding Our Future defendants' requests to travel

The travel requests cite family, religious or business needs and so far, it appears that none have fled the country before facing sentencing or trial.
The FBI executed a search warrant at Twin Cities nonprofit Feeding our Future on Jan. 20, 2022.

16th Feeding Our Future defendant pleads guilty

Ahmed Sharif Omar-Hashim pleaded guilty Wednesday to wire fraud in the sprawling Feeding Our Future fraud scheme.
How low-income Minnesotans can qualify for heating assistance this winter

How low-income Minnesotans can qualify for heating assistance this winter

State officials urged low-income Minnesotans to take advantage of federally funded programs helping to offset utility costs or boost weatherization.
The FBI executed a search warrant at Twin Cities nonprofit Feeding our Future on Jan. 20, 2022.

Brooklyn Park woman pleads guilty in Feeding Our Future case

Filsan M. Hassan could face about three years in prison.
Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott surprises six more Twin Cities nonprofits with $26.1M in gifts

Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott surprises six more Twin Cities nonprofits with $26.1M in gifts

Scott's foundation announced her latest round of surprise donations to nonprofits nationwide.
More Minnesota foundation dollars are going to Florida and other states

More Minnesota foundation dollars are going to Florida and other states

Some experts worry that means Minnesota nonprofits are getting less support from some Minnesota foundations.
Keith Ellison

Twin Cities nonprofit that helps families of first responders accused of conflicts of interest

The Minnesota 100 Club was ordered by the state Attorney General's Office to revamp its policies, including adding a conflict-of-interest policy.
Project for Pride in Living is proposing a new $60 million development to replace a Wells Fargo that burned down off Lake Street in the civil unrest a

Minnesotans can help affordable housing — and get a tax credit

The state's housing finance agency has launched a six-year fund to drum up donations in exchange for an 85% tax credit.
Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon said in a written response to the audit that his office purchased a grants management system in May.

Audit finds Secretary of State's Office needs to boost oversight of grants

The Minnesota Secretary of State's office passed the state audit in every measure except for its oversight of grants.
Chief Natalie Hudson with husband Reverend Willie Hudson and Wilhelmina Marie Wright a her side, celebrates her new role as the leader of the Minnesot

Hudson, Procaccini mark new roles on the Minnesota Supreme Court with ceremonial oaths

Natalie Hudson and Karl Procaccini were officially sworn in in October, but a public ceremony was held Monday to honor them.
St. Paul firefighters responded to a report of a dead person in a downtown cave.

Explorers discover dead person in downtown St. Paul cave

No additional details were released about the deceased person or how they died.
Laura Wennik, a volunteer with the Food Group, packed pears into produce boxes last week during the food bank’s “Pack to the Max” event on Give

Minnesota on record-setting pace to top 7 million food shelf visits this year

Minnesota leaders announced Monday that the state will distribute an extra $5 million to food banks.
This historic Charles H. Burwell House is the first site in Minnetonka on the National Register of Historic Places.

Minnetonka estate showcases Victorian era and Minnesota's milling past

The Charles H. Burwell House was the first Minnetonka site to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Laura Wennik, a volunteer with the Food Group, helps pack pears into produce boxes during the food bank's "Pack to the Max" event on the 15th annual G

Give to the Max Day draws $34 million, the second-highest amount ever

The final tally: $34.2 million was donated on Give to the Max Day — the fourth consecutive year the statewide online fundraiser topped $30 million.
Foster Michelle Gregoire offered Susie a treat at Bauhaus Brew Labs during a fundraiser for Ruff Start Rescue on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023.

Will Minnesotans break from the national trend of declining Give to the Max Day donations?

Many Minnesota nonprofits are seeing a drop in donations this year even as their expenses rise.
Minnesota Energy Climate Corps team member DeAndre Colquitte takes a photo of a building blueprint before resketching it during an energy audit Thursd

Minnesota's new Energy Climate Corps aims to diversify growing energy jobs

Minnesota's new Energy Climate Corps will train nearly two dozen AmeriCorps members on clean energy jobs as they make state park buildings more energy-efficient.
The Salvation Army’s annual red kettle campaign is going high tech, starting to accept mobile donations this year via Apple Pay and Google Pay.

Twin Cities Salvation Army adds tap technology to red kettles to boost donations

After adding Venmo and Paypal options and QR codes, the Salvation Army is now adding tap technology to increase digital donations.
Two of the dogs that the Animal Humane Society seized from an Andover animal rescue organization last week are expected to be up for adoption soon. Th

Authorities seize 30 dogs from Andover animal rescue after eight others found dead

The Animal Humane Society in Golden Valley is now assessing the dogs' medical conditions and hopes to put most of the pups up for adoption soon.
Tonya Allen, CEO of the McKnight Foundation, spoke at the launch of the GroundBreak Coalition in Minneapolis in May 2022.

Twin Cities coalition has raised nearly $1B to help Black homeowners, entrepreneurs

The GroundBreak Coalition launched about a year ago to raise $5.3 billion over the next decade and close racial wealth disparities in the Twin Cities.
Sahan Journal employees posed earlier this year. CEO Mukhtar Ibrahim is in the front row, fourth from right.

Mukhtar Ibrahim, who founded the Sahan Journal in St. Paul, announces he's stepping down as CEO

The online news organization has big plans to continue to grow, expanding coverage outside the Twin Cities and adding community events.
Liban Alishire exits on the escalator inside the Federal Courthouse after attending a plea hearing in Minneapolis in January

Judge allows Minnesota man convicted in Feeding Our Future case to go overseas

Liban Alishire said he needed to travel to Kenya to sell properties he bought in the Feeding Our Future scheme, so he can pay back restitution to the federal government.
Ann Averill, the Violence Prevention and Intervention Manager at 360 Communities, shows one of the rooms at the domestic violence shelter in Hastings.

Minnesota and Wisconsin domestic violence shelters brace for cuts

Minnesota and Wisconsin domestic violence shelters brace for a possible 40% decline in federal aid next year, which could spur layoffs and program closures.
Attorney General Keith Ellison.

Minnesota seeks to shut down nonprofits accused of defrauding federal meals program

Some of the organizations are tied to Feeding Our Future, the nonprofit at the center of a separate federal criminal investigation.
The YWCA Minneapolis is closing its longtime Uptown and downtown (shown here) fitness centers and pools on Nov. 1.

YWCA Minneapolis members push for public buyer to save fitness centers

The YWCA announced in August that it will close its downtown and Uptown fitness facilities and pools, part of a shift in focus away from health and fitness.
Asha Shoffner, Rayona Kardell, Trahern Crews and Rose McGee (from top left, clockwise) are winners of the 2023 Facing Race Awards.

St. Paul & Minnesota Foundation honors four anti-racism advocates for their work

The foundation's Facing Race Award to recognize Minnesotans battling racism is in its 17th year.
In 2002, Mike Lynch worked on a painting of a building in the Pillsbury complex on the Minneapolis riverfront at dusk, using an easel he made that sli

Mike Lynch, acclaimed Minneapolis painter and 'one of the finest artists Minnesota ever produced,' dies at 85

His work is featured in art museums and galleries across Minnesota.
Tremaine Brown, with the Food Group, which is looking to expand its mobile market to places that serve more children and young women if the federal go

Shutdown would hurt America's food supply, ag secretary says

In many states, the WIC food program for mothers and children could collapse after only a day or two.
Gloria Perez, the former leader of the Jeremiah Program, is CEO of the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota.

$10K grants to help 40 female nonprofit leaders combat burnout, courtesy of Women's Foundation

The Women's Foundation of Minnesota's new "Rest Up" grants for 40 women of color are part of a shift in philanthropy to fund self-care and well-being.
Danette Scorza, a talent acquisition manager from Opportunity Partners, recruited employees for her nonprofit at the Government & Nonprofit Career Fai

Survey: Almost all Minnesota nonprofits need workers, forcing cuts in services

More Minnesota nonprofits are reporting widespread job openings than nonprofits are facing nationwide.
Greg Parks spoke before performing a silent comedy act, “Where Am I Now,” during the Black is Funny Improv Festival last spring at Huge Theater in

Huge Improv Theater set to move into its own building for the first time in its history

The theater company bought the Lyndale Avenue building that houses Art Materials, which will lease space there.
Mary Lynn Smith of Lakeville kayaks by Split Rock State Park.

Paddling Split Rock reveals hidden history of Lake Superior shipwreck

Kayaking near Split Rock State Park rewards visitors with a different vantage point and an up-close history lesson of the shipwreck that inspired Minnesota's iconic lighthouse.
Billionaire founder of Best Buy gives historic donations to Florida, Minnesota hospitals

Billionaire founder of Best Buy gives historic donations to Florida, Minnesota hospitals

Richard Schulze launched his Twin Cities foundation after he stepped down as CEO of Best Buy. Nearly 20 years later, it's grown to be the fourth largest private foundation in Minnesota.
A record $25 million donation to Allina Health will help finance construction of a new 10-story tower at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis.

Record $25 million gift will help upgrade Abbott Northwestern surgery, critical care capabilities

Best Buy founder Richard Schulze is pivoting his foundation away from medical research and funding projects like Abbott that improve health care access.
Food shelf coordinator Jayme Hamburger recently stocked dog food at the People & Pets Together food shelf in Minneapolis, which merged with the Minnet

Twin Cities animal rescue has new name, expanded purpose: Helping owners keep pets

Secondhand Hounds is changing its name to reflect an expanded focus on pet owners and reducing the number of pets ending up in shelters.
Hungarian dancers formed a circle while dancing at the Festival of Nations in 2019.

St. Paul's annual Festival of Nations celebration ending after nearly 90 years

The four-day multicultural festival, which began in 1932, was last held in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic.
More Minnesota nonprofits are tapping into the state’s growing brewery scene to host fundraisers, hoping to draw more younger donors for more casual

Minnesota nonprofits ditch the annual gala to appeal to younger generation of givers

They are trying new tactics to draw millennials, who have increased giving nationally.
The YWCA Minneapolis is closing its downtown fitness center, shown, and Uptown one, moving away from health and fitness programs to focus on child car

YWCA Minneapolis shutting down Uptown, downtown fitness centers, laying off 85

The YWCA Downtown and YWCA Uptown will close Nov. 1, while the YWCA's Otters and Masters swim programs shut down this week.
Danette Scorza, a talent acquisition manager from Opportunity Partners, recruited for her nonprofit at the Government & Nonprofit Career Fair in 2022.

Can Minnesota's nonprofits rebound from the pandemic? Here's what they're facing now

The state's nonprofit sector has nearly 3% fewer employees than it had in 2019, a bigger decline than the state's overall workforce.
Twelve-year-old Little Boy looks up at his owner, Kitty Hayes, during a canine influenza vaccine clinic on Wednesday at the Animal Humane Society in S

Get ready to head back to the dog park: Minnesota's canine flu outbreak has slowed

The drop in canine influenza cases prompted the Minnesota Board of Animal Health to loosen guidelines this week.
Artwork was installed in 2011 at the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation. Minnesota’s largest philanthropy, based in Eden Prairie, is named after an heir

Police investigating stolen $1 million intended for grantee of the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation

The $1 million was part of a grant from the Eden Prairie private foundation to an Alaska organization that someone intercepted, according to court documents.
The FBI executed a search warrant at Twin Cities nonprofit Feeding our Future on Jan. 20, 2022.

Rep. Angie Craig proposes doubling fines for fraud in federally funded child nutrition programs

In the wake of the Feeding Our Future scandal, Minnesota congressional Republicans are also pressing the U.S. Department of Agriculture for more information.
Brett Gipson, the first veteran to move into the new wing after the program became permanent, looked to program manager Ivor Brathwaite, right, as Bra

Homeless veterans have a new home in St. Paul, thanks to affordable housing program

The program, started by Union Gospel Mission Twin Cities, provides supportive permanent housing for veterans.
The Minnesota legislature nearly tripled spending on youth homelessness in their just-concluded session.

'Historic' increase in funding aims to reduce youth homelessness in Minnesota

A new report estimates 13,300 youth are homeless in Minnesota in any given year and says the state hasn't had sufficient services to help them.
Volunteers from Target packed school items into backpacks at Kids in Need in 2014.

Minnesota was once a leader in corporate philanthropy. Is that still true?

Local companies drew praise for launching the Five Percent Club nearly five decades ago.
A new food pantry opened in Houston this week — coincidentally called Feeding Our Future. It’s the same name as a Minnesota nonprofit at the cente

Texas opens food pantry called Feeding Our Future — with no ties to the embattled Minnesota group

The Houston Housing Authority announced the new food pantry this week, coincidentally using the same name as the Minnesota nonprofit that's at the center of a $250 million fraud investigation.
Dr. Sarah Smith gives “Kai,” Emily Post’s rescue dog a canine influenza vaccine at the St. Paul Pet Hospital in St. Paul, Minn., on Thursday, Ju

Officials urge Minnesota dog owners to consider vaccinating their pups as canine influenza spreads

An estimated 300 dogs have been infected with canine influenza since an outbreak began in Minnesota in April. But there's a short supply of the vaccine.
During the funeral at the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington on Monday, men carried the body of one of the five women killed in a car crash o

Reckless drivers killed their loved ones. Families say such drivers aren't punished enough

The horror of Derrick Thompson's crash that killed five in Minneapolis has rekindled outrage over those who kill with vehicles.
Mary Lou Carlson

Mary Lou Carlson, inspiring late-in-life runner and Lake Harriet fixture, dies at 95

The lifelong Minneapolis resident drew headlines when she started running marathons in her 50s and kept at it into her 70s.
Tyrome Williams, a volunteer warehouse lead, sorteds food at Southern Anoka Community Assistance Food Shelf in Columbia Heights in January. Minnesota

About 4,000 Minnesotans could lose access to food stamps thanks to federal debt ceiling deal

About 445,000 Minnesotans rely on food stamps each month. Adults 50 to 54 years old, will now have to meet work requirements or exemptions to get food stamps consistently.
Ethan, director of outreach for Involve MN, delivered meals to homeless people camped behind Union Gospel Mission on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in St. Pa

State helping to fund prepared meals that nonprofits provide to people in need

The new state funding of $3.3 million will pay for thousands of prepared meals over the next two years.
Bloomington man pleads guilty to wire fraud in $250 million Feeding Our Future case

Bloomington man pleads guilty to wire fraud in $250 million Feeding Our Future case

Abdulkadir Awale, 50, agreed to pay restitution of $2.1 million in the plea agreement.
Bush Foundation 2023 fellows, top to bottom and left to right: Farhia Budul, Willette Anita Capers, Katherine (Katie) Dachtler, Abdirizak Diis, Owen D

Bush Foundation names 16 Minnesota leaders to its prestigious fellowship program

The winners of the annual Bush fellowship receive up to $100,000 to fund leadership opportunities.