Founded in 1983, the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota is the oldest and largest statewide women’s foundation in the nation, and remains the only grantmaking organization in Minnesota dedicated exclusively to growing equality for women and girls.
The Women’s Foundation was originally established as a designated area fund of the Minneapolis Foundation. Its eventual formation grew from discussion among members of the Minnesota Chapter of Women and Foundation/Corporate Philanthropy, a professional organization for staff and trustees of local foundations and corporate giving programs.
Our founders were deeply concerned about two related issues: the small proportion of philanthropic support allocated to women and girls in Minnesota (then, under 3 percent) and the fact that such support went primarily to projects which provided short-term direct service programs that did not address the need for long-term change in the societal system.
The formation of the Women’s Foundation culminated in a year-long planning process that involved over 400 women’s organizations, foundations and individuals. A public symposium held in May 1983 facilitated discussions of the special needs of women and girls in Minnesota and identified resources to meet those needs.
In 1989, the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota separated from the Minneapolis Foundation and became an independent public charity 501(c)3. And in 1997, the Women’s Foundation reached its founding goal of securing $10 million in invested assets.
This goal was made possible through the generous support of foundations, corporations, and the collective contributions of women and men, including women of color, urban and suburban women, rural women, women with disabilities, and women from all educational and socio-economic levels throughout Minnesota.