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Our Work

Investing in Innovation to Drive Gender & Racial Equity

As a statewide community foundation, we make grants, invest in research, advocate policy, and forge cross-sector partnerships to ensure community-based, community-led solutions across Minnesota.

What We Do

Our goal is to raise transformational gifts to make the maximum investment in and with communities across the state to create a world of equal opportunity for women and girls.

See our Framework for Impact & Growth

  • Research

    Research drives our work and sets our annual grantmaking and policy agenda. Everything we do is grounded in qualitative and quantitative research.

  • Grantmaking

    By increasing investments to organizations, we create conditions for leaders and organizations to do their best work.

  • Strategic Communications

    Through strategic communications, we work to change systems and societal norms.

  • Cross-Sector Partnerships

    We engage in participatory learning, conducting research and relationship building, to create transformational change.

  • Policy

    By resourcing innovation, we scale from the local to the regional to the state and national across the women’s funding movement.

Our Methodology

How We Are Different

At the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, we apply an Intersectional Equity Framework™ inclusive of gender, race, place, and additional identities (ethnicity, sovereignty, socioeconomic class, age, disability, LGBTQ+, immigration status) to our research, grantmaking, public policy agenda, and internal work.

What is intersectionality?

We engage in participatory learning, conducting research and relationship building, to create transformational change.

What is equity?

Equity is ensuring people and communities have what they need to thrive.

How We Define “Woman”

Women and girls includes anyone who identifies as a woman and/or girl. WFMN programs are inclusive of transgender and gender expansive people that experience gender-based structural harm.

Applying the Framework

Step 1: Analysis of problems and solutions

  • Gender – How are women, girls, men, boys, transgender and gender expansive people differently or disproportionally affected, represented, or impacted? How and why? What gender norms limit or impact equity?
  • Race – How are communities of color and American Indian communities differently or disproportionally affected, represented, or impacted? How and why?
  • Place – How are rural, suburban, or urban communities differently or disproportionally affected?
  • Additional Identities – How are other identities, including ethnicity, sovereignty, socioeconomic class, age, disability, LGBTQ+, and immigration status affected or impacted?

Step 2: Implement solutions with intersectional equity in design to ensure equity in outcomes

Equity in Design:

Applying an Intersectional Equity Framework to Accelerate Change

What does it mean to lead with equity and an intersectional analysis to create change? How can organizations apply an Intersectional Equity Framework™ to target solutions with community at the center, change narratives, and create a world where all women and girls are able to lead and thrive?

This Women’s Foundation of Minnesota (WFMN) report provides historical context and articulates strategies to advance the work of gender and racial equity.

Our Theory of Change

We lead with research and community to expand gender and racial equity and we apply our Theory of Change to all the steps of our process and decision-making to ensure our solutions are inclusive for everyone.

As we invest, leverage, learn, influence, and scale, we use equity in design to ensure equity in outcomes.

  • Invest

    By increasing investments to organizations, we create conditions for leaders and organizations to do their best work.

  • Leverage

    By applying our intersectional equity framework, we target our work to identify problems and the best community solutions.

  • Learn

    By engaging in participatory learning, conducting research, and building relationships, we create transformational change.

  • Influence

    Through policy, partnerships, and strategic communication, we work to change systems and societal norms.

  • Scale

    By resourcing innovation, we scale from the local to the regional to the state and national across the women’s funding movement.

Our Areas of Impact

What We Aim to Achieve

We find solutions with communities and begin with research. We scale impact by listening and responding to community concerns and leading systems change in three areas:

Economic Opportunity

Ensuring a Minnesota where doors to opportunity are abundant and open to all women and girls in every community, and pathways to prosperity assured.

Safety

Ensuring a Minnesota where all women and girls are free from all forms of violence and can experience their homes, schools, and communities as safe places.

Leadership

Ensuring a Minnesota where barriers are eliminated and all women and girls are respected and thrive.

Our Research

Listening, Learning and Driving Action With Communities

The Women’s Foundation of Minnesota conducts qualitative and quantitative research to better understand the lives of women and girls within communities, identify assets and barriers, and fund solutions.

What is a Systems Change?

For the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, systems change is about shifting structures in order to reduce or eliminate barriers, increase access to opportunity, and achieve gender and racial equity.

Our role is to be the connective tissue and backbone to drive systems change towards gender and racial equity. Systems change and direct service work together. Both are important, interconnecting gears that meet individual and community needs today, while shifting systems, institutions, behaviors, and policies for tomorrow.

Center for systems change graphic

The process of systems change includes shifts in:

  • Institutions, laws, or policies
  • Community or individual behavior
  • Definition or reframing of issues
  • Engagement or movement-building
  • Maintaining or holding the line