Our Mission

The mission of the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota is to invest in innovation to drive gender equity in Minnesota.

Founded in 1983, the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota is the first and largest statewide women’s foundation in the country and holds a unique niche among Minnesota community foundations.

Through our grantmaking, we fund “systems change.” This means we make grants to programs that result in shifts in individual, cultural and community attitudes and behaviors, and shifts in institutions and policies that serve as barriers to gender equity.

In other words, we do not fund direct service programs. Rather, we invest in front-end of the pipeline, permanent solutions to the root causes of gender inequity, including sexism, racism, poverty, violence, homophobia, health disparities, and lack of women’s leadership — complex problems that impact women and girls, families and communities.

Another operating practice that sets us apart from other philanthropies is our Intersectional Lens Framework™, where we apply a gender, race, place, equity (class, age, ability, LGTBQ, and immigration status) lens to all of our annual grantmaking, research, and public policy work.

In fiscal year 2016 (April 1, 2015-March 31, 2016), we awarded over $2.5 million in grants, statewide, to fund innovative programs addressing the root causes of gender inequality through our grantmaking funds: Social Change Fund, girlsBEST Fund, and MN Girls Are Not For Sale Fund.

In partnership with the University of Minnesota Humphrey School’s Center on Women, Gender & Public Policy, we conduct and share annual research on the status of women and girls in the state to inform our grantmaking, educate opinion and policy makers, advocate public policy, and raise public awareness and engagement around women’s economics, safety, health and leadership.

We also measure and evaluate the social change we affect with specific indicators for tracking progress, and we promote building philanthropy for gender equity and provide our donors with important tools to help shape an equitable society.

Together, our collective contributions are eliminating barriers and building pathways to prosperity and security for all of the state’s women and girls. Our vision is to create a world of equal opportunity where women and girls – and all people – hold the power to create and lead safe, prosperous lives.