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Two prominent Minneapolis foundations are forming what leaders are calling a partnership to boost equity initiatives.

The Minneapolis Foundation announced Thursday a new "strategic operating partnership" with the Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota, the longstanding north Minneapolis organization that's donated millions of dollars to the city's North Side.

The move, effective at the end of March, means the Phillips Foundation will pay the Minneapolis Foundation to run Phillips' administrative services and deliver its grants, said R.T. Rybak, president of the Minneapolis Foundation.

However, Phillips will maintain its own independent identity, fund and board, he said.

"This is one of the most significant community foundations in Minnesota and we're really honored to be partners with them, but they will remain independent," Rybak said. "It's a very significant deal for both of us. It's extraordinarily important for us to look for new ways that we can make even more impact toward the equitable community we need."

The Minneapolis Foundation is one of the largest community foundations in Minnesota. It ranked second in the funding it granted, $63 million, to nonprofits and other organizations in 2018, according to a 2020 report by the Minnesota Council on Foundations.

Patrick Troska, president of the Phillips Family Foundation, declined to comment. But Hutton Phillips, one of four family members on the board, said the partnership with Rybak's organization will enable the Phillips Foundation to save on administrative costs and spend more on equity initiatives.

"We really do plan to continue all of our commitments," she said. "In partnering with the Minneapolis Foundation, we're really saying that, no matter what happens with our family … or as generations continue to change, we are solidifying our commitment to our Minneapolis community."

Her great-grandparents, liquor distributor Jay Phillips and his wife Rose, created the foundation nearly 80 years ago. In 2016 the Phillips Foundation refocused on the North Side, breaking ground last year on new headquarters off W. Broadway, which is slated to open in the next year.

The foundation gave $3.5 million in grants in 2020, including funding to support North Side schools and North News, a community news source.

Also on the board is another of Jay and Rose's great-grandchildren, U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips, who represents Minnesota's Third Congressional District.

Rybak and Hutton Phillips said it's too soon to say what will happen with the Phillips Foundation's four employees. They said most of Phillips' programs will continue and that its grantees shouldn't be affected by the change, since most of them also get money from the Minneapolis Foundation.

"We want right now to listen closely to what Phillips has been able to do in partnership … and continue it," Rybak said. "We're both focused on the same outcome of closing equity gaps and we both recognize we need to do even more — and we can do that side by side."

Kelly Smith • 612-673-4141