Senior Program Officer Kevin Bennett writes for MinnPost Opinion.
"Unlike a traditional joint fund, #GroundBreakMSP seeks to dramatically change how capital flows in the region, and who it flows to by creating a new financial system informed by community members to address historic wealth disparities that, for too long, have been researched and discussed, but not acted on in a systemic and transformational way. Over the next 10 years, GroundBreak intends to unlock $5.3 billion in capital to build Black wealth and close racial wealth gaps for good."
Senior Program Officer Kevin Bennett writes for MinnPost Opinion.
"GroundBreak is about collective will and intentional action—building solidarity to address racial wealth and opportunity gaps." Senior Program Officer Kevin Bennett joined Almanac to discuss the GroundBreak Coalition and its ambitious 10-year vision to create a more equitable MSP region, following the announcement of nearly $1 billion in capital to expand wealth-building opportunities in MSP.
Learn more about GroundBreak here.
Team members at the Edmund Pettus Bridge, a National Historic Landmark. The bridge was the site of the brutal Bloody Sunday beatings of civil rights marchers during the first march for voting rights. L to R: Meg Gehlen Nodzon, Senior Program Officer; Kevin Bennett, Senior Program Officer; Tenzin Nordon, Program Officer; Molly Morton, Senior Manager, Office of the Chair
A few members of GHR’s team joined FADICA, a Catholic philanthropic network of foundations and donors supporting Catholic activities and initiatives, for a pilgrimage to Montgomery and Selma, Alabama. Part of FADICA’s 2023 Symposium, the trip focused on how Catholic philanthropy could be informed, transformed, and activated to address racism.
The trip included visits to The Legacy Museum and The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, sites “situated on lands occupied by Indigenous people for centuries, in a region that once held the largest population of enslaved Black people and would later become the heart of the Civil Rights movement.” The Legacy Sites offer visitors “a powerful opportunity to engage with history and begin an era of truth telling.”
The team’s journey proved transformational, with opportunities to engage with and reflect on the realities of racial injustice, violence and discrimination that have characterized U.S history. Team members left Alabama and its makers of civil rights with a deep understanding of why racial justice and racial equity cannot wait for another generation to manifest.
From MPR News:
"A coalition of more than 40 corporate, civic and philanthropic organizations in Minnesota announced Tuesday that it’s received pledges of nearly $1 billion to help build wealth in Black communities.
The GroundBreak Coalition was formed after the murder of George Floyd to help close racial wealth gaps in Minnesota, by expanding opportunities for homeownership, entrepreneurship and commercial development.
Kevin Bennett is senior program officer for the Minneapolis-based GHR Foundation. He said Tuesday the pledges of more than $1 billion mean “that these resources will start flowing abundantly, reliably — and most importantly, permanently. So that aspiring homeowners, small business owners, developers can pursue the type of transformation that we want in our community.”
Gov. Tim Walz called the effort “transformational.”
“It’s essential to our survival as a state, both morally and economically, that you’re successful,” he told the crowd Tuesday."
[PRESS RELEASE] GroundBreak Announces Investments of Nearly $1 Billion in First-of-Its-Kind Effort to Expand Equitable Wealth-Building Opportunities in Minneapolis-St. Paul
GHR joins a coalition of over 40 philanthropic, private, and public institutions in support of GroundBreak, an ambitious 10-year vision to create a more equitable MSP region. Learn more in the press release:
"MINNEAPOLIS, MN – GroundBreak, a coalition of over 40 philanthropic, private, and public institutions working to create a more equitable Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) region, announced investments of nearly $1 billion ($926.75 million) to expand wealth building opportunities with a current focus on aspiring Black homebuyers, entrepreneurs, and commercial developers. This is a significant step toward the coalition’s goal of mobilizing $5.3 billion over the decade to expand equitable wealth-building through an innovative approach shaped by community members.
GroundBreak, launched in May 2022, aims to transform financial systems through a nation-leading effort to expand opportunity and shared prosperity. Unlike a traditional joint fund, GroundBreak is working to fundamentally change how capital flows within a region, building on proven financial tools and strategies, deep collaboration across philanthropic, financial, corporate, and public institutions, and collective investments.
Ahead of a Tuesday morning community gathering, the coalition released a report outlining its progress and detailing its early commitment of $926.75 million for financial tools and products that are expected to be available in the region by the end of 2024."
In the wake of the compounding crises of 2020, spurred especially by the police murder of George Floyd, GHR deepened our local commitment with an explicit focus on racial equity. As part of this long-term commitment, the Foundation awarded Minnesota news nonprofit Sahan Journal $1.5 million over three years, to support their mission of advancing racial equity as an entrepreneurial publication covering communities of color. Our community has benefited greatly from Mukhtar's leadership and the ongoing dedication of the Sahan team. We’re grateful to be part of the organization’s journey and are excited for its next stage.
From Sahan Journal:
"Mukhtar M. Ibrahim spent almost a decade reporting for legacy newsrooms before he made a leap to try something different. Mainstream journalism, he’d found, failed to cover immigrant communities like his own; when other news sites did publish stories about people of color, they often did more harm than good.
Though Mukhtar had never worked as an editor or publisher, that realization inspired him to quit his job in 2019 and found his own digital news startup. He called it Sahan Journal, taking the name from the Somali word for “pioneer.”
After building the nonprofit newsroom from a solo endeavor into a 20-person operation with a $2.5 million annual budget, Mukhtar is stepping down as publisher and CEO. Mukhtar, 35, announced the leadership transition Monday, vowing to help start the search for a successor and to offer his full help and assistance to the new executive.
“I’m stepping down now because I believe Sahan Journal is in a very strong position in terms of staff, organization, and funding,” Mukhtar said. “This is the best time for the organization, and I want to give someone else the opportunity to lead one of the country’s most innovative nonprofit newsrooms.”"
[Op-Ed] GroundBreak Coalition: Collective Will and Intentional Action: Philanthropy’s Role in Boldly Reimagining What’s Possible
About the Author: Kevin Bennett is a senior program officer and racial equity lead at GHR Foundation and serves with CEO Amy Goldman on the GroundBreak Steering Committee.
"GHR is committed to advancing racial equity in the Twin Cities and we have been intentional in making deeper investments locally. This has meant centering the Black community and communities who continue to experience systemic disparities as we look to create pathways to access and opportunity. Recent investments have supported local organizations creating a more inclusive and equitable region and economy, as well as community entrepreneurship with the University of St. Thomas. We’re now looking at focusing resources at the intersection of racial equity and Catholic Schools in the Twin Cities by cultivating models of excellence for under-estimated scholars, such as innovations underway at the Catholic Academy housed at Ascension School in North Minneapolis.
We invite you to stand firm and determined with us at this historic time for action. No organization can advance racial equity alone and GroundBreak Coalition offers a way to work together on bold solutions previously untried in our community. With our commitment to GroundBreak over the next three years, GHR is continuing to expand on more than $15 million in investments made in the Twin Cities since 2020. This support mirrors how our foundation works with partners across our local, global, and biomedical domains—often providing early, flexible, multi-year funding that unleashes the limitless potential for good within partners and communities."
Read the full op-ed here.
GHR is thrilled to welcome Tenzin Tseten as program associate for the Local domain at GHR. Tenzin’s unique gifts, skills and experience promise to sustain our ongoing commitment to supporting the essential work of our Local partners. As a program associate, Tenzin is responsible for supporting administrative coordination as well as quality grantmaking, documentation, and partnerships for the Local team.
Tenzin previously worked in various capacities at the State of Wisconsin. Most recently, she was a grant manager for the Wisconsin Fast Forward program, managing workforce development grants through their full grant life cycle. Tenzin has a background in grant and contract management, program evaluation and public administration, and has a passion for economic and community development.
Tenzin has a bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin and a master's from Central European University.
Neighborhood Development Center (NDC) is a non-profit organization that offers training, lending, and technical assistance to community entrepreneurs in the Twin Cities. Aiming to "empower entrepreneurs and community partners to transform their low-income neighborhood economies from within”, NDC addresses barriers to economic equity by equipping neighborhood entrepreneurs with the knowledge and resources they need to start, run, and grow their own businesses, within the neighborhood where they live.
Via a $750,000 grant, GHR is supporting the multiple NDC services provided within Black and Latina Opportunity Connect (BLOC) – a structured, individualized one-on-one coaching and cohort support program. BLOC participants will receive Money Matters and Mindset Reset training, technical assistance programs offered by NDC’s Business Lab, as well as access to the Credit Up! Program, focused on credit building loans and credit education. Money Matters focuses on participants’ financial literacy and provides them with a year of QuickBooks bookkeeping software. Mindset Reset is a culturally responsive program that helps participants address mindset challenges to their personal and business success, such as self-limiting beliefs, imposter syndrome, and burnout. Credit Up! is housed in NDC’s Lending program and provides a small loan and credit coaching to help boost participants’ credit scores.
Access to these programs is accompanied and guided by expert business coaches who meet monthly with BLOC participants, checking in and supporting progress toward their goals, such as the completion of a business plan or meeting certain sales targets. GHR funding helps NDC secure expert business coaches who are also business plan consultants. Consultants help participants refine and build out their business plans, which are a key tool for guiding the future of the business and securing capital, including loan capital provided by GHR.
BLOC on the Block is a new concept that will provide BLOC participants space to test out their business concept at a bricks-and-mortar location, before they secure a storefront of their own. NDC will build out a storefront space, likely at their Frogtown Crossroads small business incubator in St. Paul, where BLOC participants will hold pop-up sales events.
NDC President & CEO Renay Dossman shared, “the Black and Latina Opportunity to Connect (BLOC) program was born because we found a gap. Black and Latina women were coming to NDC and completing our entrepreneur training program at very high rates—but very few continued on and opened a business. BLOC was designed to ensure Black & Latina women could equitably grow their businesses, create wealth, and shape their communities”.
Within our Local domain, GHR works to be of service to and in partnership with Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) businesses and communities in the development and acquisition of assets that advance and provide access to economic opportunity and community development, and education and career advancement. Learn more about our work.
The Sahan Journal Staff, 2023.
In the wake of the compounding crises of 2020, spurred especially by the police murder of George Floyd, GHR deepened our local commitment with an explicit focus on racial equity. As part of this long-term commitment, the Foundation has awarded Minnesota news nonprofit Sahan Journal $1.5 million over three years, to support their mission of advancing racial equity as an entrepreneurial publication covering communities of color.
Kevin Bennett, senior program officer and lead of GHR’s Twin Cities Racial Equity initiative, shared: “It’s been amazing to walk alongside Sahan Journal as it has grown in size and scale – this grant will strengthen Sahan’s platform and ensure that diverse representation in news media is a force-multiplier for change. Their news stories – centering on immigrant and communities of color – are real, they’re relevant, and also reflect the future of Minnesotans. At GHR we believe in partnering boldly as we invest in BIPOC entrepreneurs and small business organizations and founder and CEO Mukhtar Ibrahim’s leadership has had tremendous impact on Sahan’s ability to generate and sustain revenue streams. We are honored to invest in Sahan Journal to unleash their limitless potential for good.”
Read the full press release at Sahan Journal.