A Minneapolis fund capped off its first year of awarding grants with recognition of three community organizations for their creative efforts to counter climate change.
The Minneapolis Climate Action and Racial Equity Fund, a partnership of the city of Minneapolis, the Minneapolis Foundation and the McKnight Foundation, issues grants for community-driven initiatives and projects that show results in reducing greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency, renewable energy and other means.
The fund received more than $240,000 in requests from 11 applicants in this second round of grants in its inaugural year. Applications were reviewed by a committee of staff members from city government and the two foundations as well as residents who serve on city environmental working committees.
"These grants demonstrate it is possible, and imperative, to attack the climate and equity crisis together," said R.T. Rybak, president and CEO of the Minneapolis Foundation.
The Lake Street Council and the West Bank Business Association received $25,000 in recognition of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by helping businesses adjust to changes in public transportation and ensure that carbon-free options are accessible to residents and visitors.
"We regularly hear from small-business owners that they are concerned about the reduced availability of cheap and plentiful parking in our commercial districts in coming years as we shift to a less car-dependent community," said Allison Sharkey, executive director of the Lake Street Council.
Sharkey said the grant will allow her council and the West Bank Business Association to "help small-business owners take actions to ensure that they don't lose customers and continue to thrive."
"We plan to help businesses work together to optimize the management of the parking that they do control," she said. "We'll also help businesses implement incentive programs for employees and customers to arrive by transit, foot, bike or scooter."
She also pointed out that Lake Street will benefit in the coming years from the B Line Bus Rapid Transit, which will travel along the thoroughfare and provide faster service.
"We'll ensure that business owners and employees have the opportunity to [influence] the design of these transit projects, so that they work well for everyone in our community."
The other recipients announced last week:
• Black Visions Collective, $25,000 for its development of an environmental justice leadership panel composed of people of color and Indigenous leaders. The collective is seeking to recruit people to lead campaigns in influencing public policies affecting the environment.
• Dream of Wild Health, $15,000 in recognition of its Upper Midwest Indigenous Seed Keepers Network, a database service that catalogs and shares vital information about seeds from across the region. The network partners with tribes and Native American organizations to develop training in growing, protecting, preserving and sharing indigenous seeds.
These seeds promote climate change resilience by supporting the ability of Native American communities to grow and eat locally, reducing their dependence on the industrial food system and lowering their carbon footprint.
Dream of Wild Health Executive Director Neely Snyder said the seeds were gifted by elders, seed keepers or their ancestors and a number of tribes, and that her organization has staff to care for seeds, which are an important part of Native American history.
"Increased capacity allows us to continue to steward the seeds for generations to come," Snyder said. "This funding supports the efforts of our dedicated staff who educate our youth and families about the importance of seed preservation and the effects of climate change — and how our Indigenous communities are most vulnerable — in a culturally relevant way."
The fund's next grant round is expected to open in early 2020. For more information, visit minneapolisfoundation.org/grants/other-funding.