Three of the largest philanthropic funders in the Twin Cities are dedicating new resources to rebuilding small, minority-owned businesses damaged in last week’s riots and reforming the criminal justice system.
The Greater Twin Cities United Way, Minneapolis Foundation and St. Paul & Minnesota Foundation announced Friday they’ve teamed up, launching a new fund that’s reached $1.3 million so far to help pay for repairs, relocation expenses and other aid to those small businesses starting this month.
The three organizations are also beginning a new initiative to reform the criminal justice system through convening meetings, starting educational efforts and examining policies or testifying at the Legislature. While the initiative, led by community activist Huda Ahmed, was in the works for about a year, it was announced Friday — nearly two weeks after 46-year-old George Floyd died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck.
“We are looking for lasting systematic change,” said Acooa Ellis, senior vice president of community impact at United Way. “George Floyd’s death was an example of what’s happening too often.”
The multiyear initiative will be led by people of color affected by racial disparities, helping define the problem and coming up with solutions.
“The community is ahead of us,” said Pahoua Yang Hoffman, senior vice president of community impact at the St. Paul & Minnesota Foundation.
The three organizations were also responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Chanda Smith Baker, the Minneapolis Foundation’s senior vice president of impact, said the collaboration will now be able to address immediate and long-term needs, putting the time and leadership where their money is — especially after Floyd’s death, which has sparked protests around the world.
“It has activated us to a new level,” she said. “That should not be nothing.”
Ahmed added: “We’re not just going to give grants and expect the community to make things happen.”
To donate to the organizations’ “Twin Cities Rebuild for the Future Fund,” go to tcrebuild.org or text TCREBUILD to 51555.
Other organizations are also stepping up to help businesses that were burned down and looted in Minneapolis, many of which were owned by people of color.
The Lake Street Council has raised more than $4.7 million in its fund while the Longfellow Community Council has raised nearly $30,000 to support food assistance, boost security measures and rebuild businesses.
The Northside Funders Group has also raised more than $1.4 million to help damaged north Minneapolis businesses. And this week, Minneapolis-based Target pledged $10 million to social justice organizations such as the National Urban League and community rebuilding efforts.