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Minnesota foundations boosted their funding for racial equity and racial justice in 2020 after George Floyd's murder, but such grants still made up a small slice of the state's philanthropic funding.

That's according to a new report released last week by the Black Collective Foundation MN, the state's first Black-led community foundation, three years after Floyd's death ignited a racial reckoning worldwide.

In the aftermath of Floyd's death, many Minnesota foundations ramped up racial justice work — increasing funding to communities of color, distributing grants more inclusively and seeking more diversity among foundation staffers and board members.

However, while racial equity funding increased to nearly $143 million in 2020 in Minnesota — an increase of more than 14% over 2019 — the Black Collective Foundation report found that racial equity grants still made up only about 3% of the state's foundation funding, compared with less than 6% nationally.

Racial justice made up an even smaller part of the funding, according to the report.

"We still have opportunities to grow and match actions with commitment when it comes to, not only funding, but policies and practices that exist within foundations," said Lulete Mola, co-founder and president of the Black Collective Foundation. "It is more important to double down on commitments to racial equity and racial justice three years after the uprising."

Funding for Black Minnesotans, who represent about 7% of the state's population, made up only 0.6% of racial equity funding in Minnesota in 2020, and the percentage of funding for other minority groups was even lower, according to data compiled by the Maryland-based Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity.

Funding for Black communities in Minnesota did increase after Floyd's death. But funding nationally rose at higher rates.

"It's surprising because of our progressive ideals and because we are the root city of what became a global uprising for racial justice," Mola said. Minnesota foundations made progress in reforms and funding, she added, but changing the system will take time.

The report was written by Mola — who used to work for the Women's Foundation of Minnesota — along with Chanda Smith Baker of the Minneapolis Foundation and Repa Mekha of Nexus Community Partners. The three leaders founded the Black Collective Foundation in 2020, which has raised nearly $9 million since then. It distributed more than $1 million last year and is on pace to deliver another $1 million in grants this year.

The foundation is pushing for broader reforms in the nonprofit sector through work like the 60-page report, which analyzed financial data from Minnesota foundations and drew on interviews with Black community leaders and philanthropic leaders. It was produced by the Black Collective Foundation, the Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity and Center for Evaluation Innovation in Washington, D.C.

"This report gives us base-line understanding of the state of philanthropic investments," Mola said. "I hope that we can see the numbers and are inspired to change them drastically going into the next three years, the next 10 years."

It's the first state-specific report based on data compiled by the Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity, which published a national report in 2021 that also found funding for racial equity and justice remains a small portion of overall foundation funding. After Floyd's murder, some foundations increased funding incrementally while publicly overstating their contributions, said Lori Villarosa, executive director of the Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity.

"What was characterized as if there was such a surge [in giving], was not the level of increase that a lot of the headlines were showing," she said. "They still have a lot to do to match their statements and their commitments. But there's something to be building on right now."

While 2022 financial data for foundations nationwide isn't yet available, Villarosa said there are signs that some are decreasing funding for communities of color after issuing one-time grants.

The full report, which is available at, recommends that Minnesota foundations do a better job of investing in Black communities by trusting their leaders, funding racial equity initiatives beyond just economic development, and investing in racial justice work long-term.

The report encourages foundations to boost education about anti-Blackness and address it explicitly, and to increase support for often under-resourced Black philanthropic leaders. Although demographic data on staffers at Minnesota foundations isn't available, about 13% in the sector nationally are Black.

The report also urges foundations to support more grassroots organizations led by people of color, not just the large mainstream institutions that often receive grants.

"Cast a wider net and ensure that organizations in proximity to community are also within your portfolio of funding," Mola said.

Minnesota has a robust philanthropic sector, but also persistent racial disparities in homeownership rates, income and other measures. Mola said she hopes the Black Collective report is a first step toward longer-term changes in the sector.

"Increasing funding for one year because there's an uprising is not enough. Expressing commitments and sympathy is not enough," she said. "Rather, we have to shift power."