Category Archives: In the Media

Foundations pave the way for more racially diverse young leaders

(Sept. 4, Minneapolis) – Long before racial disparities in philanthropy became a hot topic, the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota launched a fellowship and internship for women of color that has been a model for other Minnesota foundations.

Since 2002, the initiative has forged career pathways for nearly 35 young woman who otherwise may not have set foot in the door of a major foundation. >> Read more.

Voice: Songs and Words For Those Who Are Silenced

voice_finalWe are thrilled that the Foundation’s MN Girls Are Not For Sale campaign was the charitable beneficiary for two events, both organized by community leader Kriss Zulkosky to raise awareness and help end the sex trafficking of children in Minnesota!

A number of local artists recently came together to record “Voice: Songs For Those Who Are Silenced,” a fantastic and moving CD compilation where artists were challenged to use only their voice, the most basic means, to bring to light the needs of children and adolescents who are victims of sex trafficking here in Minnesota.

The CD is available for download from iTunes, with 100% of the proceeds from digital sales directly benefiting the MN Girls Are Not For Sale campaign!

Voice: Songs for Those Who Are Silenced track list
01. Haley Bonar – Birds Are Always
02. Chris Koza – By The Waters Of Minnetonka
03. Dessa – Poor Atlas
04. Holly Hansen – Night Turns
05. John Hermanson – Calling Your Name
06. We Are The Willows – Honey Lamb, I Haven’t Much To Write
07. Joey Verskotzi – Diamond Ring
08. Reina Del Cid – Kindness (Cypress Tree)
09. Robert Robinson – Couldn’t Hear Nobody Pray
10. The Ericksons – One Heart
11. Charlie Parr – Buildin’ Leanin’
12. Jon Rodine – It’s Not The Spotlight
13. House Of Mercy – I’m Running Wild (The Ninety And Nine)
14. Ben Weaver – Over These Hills
15. Angie Talle & Angel Sanchez – Where No One Stands Alone
16. Carrie & Luke – The Blackest Crow
17. Shá Cage & Jayanthi Kyle – Not For Sale
18. Prairie Fire Lady Choir – We Can Be

Bedlam Lowertown Theater hosted the CD release and concert on Sunday, May 10.

In conjunction with the CD release and concert, Hamilton Ink Spot hosted an opening reception for “Voice: Words for Those Who Are Silenced”, an exhibition of posters by local artists on Thursday, May 7. The poster exhibition will run at Hamilton Ink Spot through May 31.

All donations and profits from the CD and poster sales benefit the Foundation’s MN Girls Are Not For Sale campaign.

Enormous thanks and gratitude to Kriss Zulkosky for her passion, dedication and commitment to raising awareness about this issue in Minnesota and for organizing these phenomenal events to rally and engage the community through music and art. We think it is so wonderful that Kriss and all the artists involved took it upon themselves and donated their time and talents to use raise awareness about sex trafficking and give voice to the voiceless. Many thanks!

Additional media coverage of the event:
Star Tribune
Pioneer Press

The Current Blog
The Current’s Local Show
Twin Cities Daily Planet

Musicians show their support for gender equality, donate proceeds from new single to Women’s Foundation

(Sept. 29) We extend our deep thanks to Lizzo and Caroline Smith for their public support of gender equality and for donating proceeds from their new single, Let ‘Em Say, to us. If you were at their First Ave. shows (9/26, 27), then you know what a celebration of women and equality it was, plus strong example of how art/music advances positive change! >>Purchase/download new single  >>Read the Star Tribune interview

WOMEN’S ECONOMIC SECURITY ACT OF 2014: Foundation’s economics research serves as basis for Act that became state law

Poverty, Wage Gap, Occupational Clustering Biggest Barriers to Women’s Economic Security
“We know that for women in our state to achieve economic security, women must first have economic opportunity, including access to education and training, good jobs, and childcare. This will improve the lives of women and of all Minnesotans,” said Lee Roper-Batker, president and CEO of the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota.
>>Read press release   >>View/Download Economics research  >>Read Star Tribune Editorial   >>View/Download Women’s Economic Security Act of 2014   >>Access all Women’s Foundation of Minnesota research >>Read our WESA Story

STAR TRIBUNE – Saving Bobbi

savingBobbi_100pxA four-part series (Nov. 2013)
Story: Pam Louwagie | Photos by Elizabeth Flores
[P1] A Teen’s Sex Trafficking Ordeal
[P2] Lured by drugs, Used by Pimps
[P3] One Cop’s Determination
[P4] Struggling to Find a Way Forward

Prefer to read the series on your Apple, Kindle or Nook device?
Purchase & download the e-Book for $2.99. All proceeds go toward our MN Girls Are Not For Sale campaign to end child sex trafficking in the state.

Mary Lee Dayton: founder & pioneering catalyst for change


Mary Lee (middle) with Romaine (l; senior gift planner) and Lee (r; president & CEO).

(Minneapolis) – It is with gratitude, love and heavy hearts that we share this sad news. Mary Lee Dayton, founder of the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, passed away on Wednesday, August 21, 2013. You may find her obituary in the Star Tribune, here:

Throughout her life, Mary Lee was a champion of so many important social causes, including equality for all Minnesota women and girls. As founder of the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota in 1983 and multimillion dollar supporter throughout, we are here today, 30 years strong and a vital force for gender equality because of Mary Lee’s passion for social justice and vision she held for the world.

“What I want the world to know about Mary Lee is that she was a pioneer… a catalyst for change,” said Lee Roper-Batker, president and CEO of the Women’s Foundation.

“In 1983, Mary Lee made the first $1 million gift ever given to a women’s foundation, anywhere in the world. This was unheard of… extraordinary. She made that gift to launch the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, the very first statewide women’s foundation in the country.”

“When I asked Mary Lee what motivated her then, she said, ‘I feel a responsibility as a privileged person, as a woman of wealth, not just to share my resources with others, but to actively work toward changing the status of women in our society.’ …that was Mary Lee,” said Roper-Batker.

Mary Lee was as generous as she was wise. More than 20 years later, she made a second seven-figure gift to the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota — this time for $2 million. It was the cornerstone gift of our $15 million campaign to double our endowment. When she rallied her friends to join her, four matched her gift at the $1 million-plus level.

“Real social change will certainly not happen overnight,” said Mary Lee. “This is the real significance of an endowment, enabling the Foundation to carry on its work in perpetuity, resulting, I hope, in making a real difference in the lives of women and girls in Minnesota.”

She was right.

“Mary Lee’s was a good life, well lived. I feel honored to have known her. I know her legacy will live on in all of us and all who have benefited from her philanthropy,” said Val Spencer, a Women’s Foundation Trustee.

We could not agree more.

Mary Lee’s family will honor her at a memorial service at Westminster Presbyterian Church on Sept. 7. For more details about the service and to read about Mary Lee’s extraordinary life, please access her obituary in the Star Tribune, here:

National Sex Trafficking Sting Yields 359 Arrests

(Minneapolis) –  It has been a busy three days in the wake of “National Day of Johns Arrests,” a national sting operation in partnership with 36 law enforcement agencies in 17 states, including Minnesota.

Minneapolis Police, our MN Girls Are Not For Sale grantee-partner, were busy and effective: one child sex trafficking victim and her 20-month old son were rescued; four pimps were arrested; and 53 johns were arrested, the most of any jurisdiction.

In St. Paul, police arrested a Canadian politician – Michael Trent Allen of the Alberta Legislative Assembly – as he was attempting to solicit sex.

Read more

Child sex trafficking is a Minnesota public health issue

(Minneapolis) – Huge thanks to the Star Tribune Opinion editorial board for helping us keep the drum beating and pressure on for full funding for specialized, safe, secure shelter and trauma treatment appropriate for child sex-trafficking victims. We also appreciate that they underscored that this is a different population of children than homeless youth and therefore requires different housing and treatment services than what’s needed for homeless youth. No “one size fits all” works in this case. Read the editorial

IT’S A WRAP: State Legislature approves $2.8 million for Safe Harbor… Roper-Batker: “An underfunded and incomplete victory”

(Minneapolis) — In the final hours before the mandated deadline last night, the Minnesota Legislature passed its budget, which included $2.8 million to fund the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Youth legislation. The original funding request to the Legislature was $13.5 million.

Despite the lesser funding, Minnesota still leads the nation in building and funding a comprehensive response to address child sex trafficking — a significant first step for every child victim.

Of the $2.8 million approved for Safe Harbor:
– $2 million will be dedicated to housing and shelter for sex-trafficked youth.
– $800,000 will create a Safe Harbor Training Fund to ensure that law enforcement and other front-line personnel, statewide, have the training they need to identify child sex trafficking victims and to aggressively investigate and prosecute traffickers.

“We achieved what I’m calling an ‘underfunded and incomplete victory.’ We came out with a total of $2.8 million of the $13.5 million — a good start, but not nearly the amount needed to to provide housing and trauma treatment for sex-trafficked children in Minnesota,” said Lee Roper-Batker, president and CEO of the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota.

“I thank the people and communities across the state for standing with us and for standing up for every sex-trafficked child still out there. This journey isn’t over — we are determined to ensure that Safe Harbor is fully funded by our state, ultimately.”

The public’s help is needed now to raise the remaining $10.7 million required to provide full safe housing and trauma treatment for child sex trafficking victims.