The Women’s Foundation of Minnesota has awarded 20 multi-year grants and three planning grants totaling $300,000 to nonprofit organizations through its girlsBEST (girls Building Economic Success Together) Fund. The sixth cohort of girlsBEST grantee-partners are receiving the third year of funding a multi-year grant through girlsBEST. Multi-year grants are renewed for up to three years, based on an annual grant review and progress towards goals. Seed grants, awarded to support planning, are limited to one year. The grant period for this funding is July 5, 2022, to July 4, 2023. All grantmaking supports general operations, which provides greatest flexibility for organizations.
This year, WFMN celebrates the 20th anniversary of the girlsBEST program. Shaped by research and listening in 14 communities around the state, girlsBEST was created to invest in girls as the best way to build opportunities and boost their future economic success. Economic opportunity is a key factor is increasing equity and justice for girls; it increases their safety, improves their health outcomes; and impacts their access to leadership opportunities.
Since girlsBEST began in 2002, understanding the importance of culturally relevant and specific programming, stability in staffing, financial literacy, and multigenerational approaches ultimately led WFMN to create the Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota and deepen its mission for gender and racial justice. girlsBEST grantee-partners share a vision of eliminating barriers that impact girls’ future economic success and developing leaders empowered to create change.
For 20 years, girlsBEST participants have shown us they are the next generation of social changemakers. girlsBEST awards grants to girl-led programs that build the opportunity and future economic success of Minnesota’s girls, ages 12-18, particularly low-income girls, Native girls and girls of color, girls in Greater Minnesota, and girls experiencing disparities in academic and professional outcomes. Grantee-partners increase girls’ awareness of systemic gender and racial inequities, grow their sense of being change agents, foster their development as leaders, and build their capacity for individual and collective activism to increase girls’ readiness to achieve economic well-being. Since launching girlsBEST, WFMN has granted more than $5.1 million to 137 girl-led and girl-driven programs statewide.
The ANIKA Foundation (Minneapolis) | $14,000 — To support TEXTURE, a youth social enterprise program that teaches technical skills, provides wraparound support for soft skills, emotional, and spiritual development, and equips youth with financial wellness education to make sound personal and business decisions through their WE! program. The ANIKA Foundation promotes healthy equity, civic engagement, and economic empowerment.
Asian Media Access (Minneapolis) | $14,000 — To support the Asian Girls Empowerment (AGE) Project which trains Asian American girls in Asian dances and bicultural leadership to build cultural pride, enhance girls’ self-esteem, and develop skills. Asian Media Access supports creative solutions for problems facing the Asian American and Pacific Islander community through education, production, information technology, and community organizing.
Bagosendaan (Mahnomen) | $14,000 — To provide horseback riding experiences for low-income youth, ages 11 to 18, to engage their interest, provide motivation, and build competence. Bagosendaan builds self-esteem and promotes leadership among youth as they mature into successful adults by engaging talking circles, counselors, guest speakers, and horseback riding.
Centro Tyrone Guzman (Minneapolis) | $14,000 — To support Jóvenes Latinas al Poder which provides tools and opportunities to Latina teen girls and femme-identifying youth to exercise their leadership and collective power to advocate for justice, inclusion, and equity. Centro Tyrone Guzman helps Latina girls gain confidence in their ability to lead and advocate through self-confidence building, establishing professional networks, and preparing them for post-secondary education and career success.
Comunidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio (CLUES) (Minneapolis & St. Paul) | $14,000 — To fund a leadership retreat for youth participants in the YA! and Entre Mujeres (“Between Women”) programs, both of which build power with Latinx youth from low-income households through activities including mentoring, leadership development, college access services, and safe and culturally anchored spaces for growth. CLUES connects individuals and families with services, resources, skills, institutions, and systems and creates an environment for people to be engaged and empowered.
Dakota Wicohan (Morton) | $19,000 — To provide the Dakota Wicohan’s Dakota Itancanpi Kte Unkihduwiyayapi /Dakota Youth Leadership Program, the only year-round out-of-school youth program in the Lower Sioux area. Dakota Wicohan empowers Dakota youth and prepares them as culture bearers, positively connects them to their community, and grounds them in their Dakota culture to help them on a path to contribute to their community academically, economically, socially, and culturally.
Hmong American Partnership (HAP) (St. Paul) | $14,000 — To enable the Nthxais Hmoob Career Program (NHCP), modeled after a Learn & Earn framework, which combines career counseling, wraparound support services, individualized service plans, and connections to employers to support Hmong and Karen girls, ages 14 to 18. HAP empowers refugee and immigrant communities in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.
Hnub Tshiab: Hmong Women Achieving Together (St. Paul) | $14,000 — To run the Girls Enterprise Zone (EZ), a social, entrepreneurial, and workforce development program that uses teaching and hands-on work experience with Hmong girls, ages 13 to 18, to explore, create, and market their own products for sale. Hnub Tshiab is a catalyst for lasting social, cultural, and institutional change to improve the lives of Hmong women.
Liberty Community Church, PCUSA (Minneapolis) | $14,000 — To administer the 21st Century Academy, which equips K–12 scholars, particularly girls and young women, to be accelerated learners, game-changing global leaders, and justice-oriented entrepreneurs through academic support, enrichment, STEM learning, nutrition, and more. Liberty practices radical hope through the healing of racialized trauma, academic excellence, artistic expression, and innovative activism.
The Link (Minneapolis) | $14,000 — To support the Career and Leadership Development program, which targets economic well-being, helping LGBTQ+ girls and young women of color to develop skills related to professionalism and the workplace, finance, and interpersonal abilities. The Link works with youth and families to overcome the impacts of poverty and injustice.
Men As Peacemakers (Duluth) | $14,000 — To support girls of color as they build power to change the systems impacting youth and to normalize the power, influence, and leadership of girls of color. Men As Peacemakers helps Native girls and girls of color navigate an environment where sexual violence and exploitation has become normal.
Minnesota Center for Diversity in Economics (MCDE) St. Catherine University (St. Paul) | $14,000 — To administer a mentorship program for girls and young women called Cross-generational Female Economist Mentorship (C-FEM) for girls and young women from area high schools, ages 14 to 18. The MCDE promotes and supports gender and racial diversity in economics at every stage of the educational and career pipeline, while leveraging its position at a women’s college to design, implement, and study interventions.
Project DIVA International (Minneapolis) | $14,000 — To fund the Business Academy 369, a program designed to allow Black girls the freedom to determine a career or business while allowing them to connect with successful women in those fields to learn more. Project DIVA guides Black girls throughout the Twin Cities to make informed decisions as they transition into adulthood through a supportive coaching program focused on economic literacy and five other key focus areas of development.
Project FINE (Winona & St. Charles) | $14,000 — To run the Girls Reaching Above and Beyond (GRAB) program, which supports and builds power with girls from refugee and immigrant families to help them discover their identities and create a road map to pursue their dreams. Project FINE strengthens and enriches the community by facilitating the integration of people who are ethnically diverse.
Range Engineering Council (Hibbing) | $14,000 — To run #night programming, which invites high school girls to come to the Iron Range Engineering (IRE) campus to learn about opportunities in engineering careers by experiencing hands-on projects, interacting with female college engineering students, and attending workshops led by female engineers from the industry. The Range Engineering Council supports and facilitates educational activities across the Iron Range that promote awareness of and encourage participation in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.
RECLAIM! (St. Paul) | $14,000 — To host the Queer & Trans Girls in Helping Professions group, which supports young people, ages 14 to 18, as they develop a group with therapeutic supports as well as career and professional development skill building. RECLAIM! works to increase access to mental health support so that queer and trans youth may reclaim their lives from oppression in all its forms.
Restoration for All (Inver Grove Heights) | $14,000 — To fund the Future Solution Now (FUSON) project to equip, train and support 15 African immigrant and refugee girls, ages 12 to 18, in ethnic entrepreneurship. Through the program, girls become aware of economic opportunities while recognizing personal skills needed to achieve economic self-sufficiency. Restoration for All nurtures and empowers individuals, organizations, and communities to discover, renew, and restore their cultural connections with improved socio-cultural well-being.
St. Paul Youth Services (St. Paul) | $14,000 —To support the YouthPower Leadership Institute, a year-round, youth-designed leadership program where Black girls ages 13 to 18 come together to discover, celebrate, and exercise leadership. St. Paul Youth Services is a leader in reimagining how community engages with and holds itself accountable for youth.
uCodeGirl (Fargo-Moorhead) | $14,000 — To support Crack the Code: Mentorship, a program that provides supportive networking and STEM-focused events and opportunities for girls in the Fargo-Moorhead area. uCodeGirl builds a support system for teen girls to be nurtured for STEM academic success and to support students’ pursuit of their academic and career aspirations.
United Community Action Partnership (Marshall) | $14,000 — To support Generation Next, which works with girls, ages 12 to 18, to build awareness of gender inequities and cultural competency as a group and in their schools and local communities. United Community Action Partnership eliminates poverty by empowering individuals and strengthening communities.
Phyllis Wheatley Community Center (Minneapolis) | $5,000 — To seed the implementation of a 10-week technology training program designed for young girls under the national brand Girls Who Code™. Phyllis Wheatley Community Center’s mission is to create pathways for individuals to discover their strengths and take control of their futures.
Pillsbury United Communities (Minneapolis) | $5,000 — To seed the implementation of a year-long training program, Girls Tech Fridays, for girls and gender-expansive youth, ages 14 to18, to build specialized tech and STEM trainings. Pillsbury United Communities are community builders co-creating enduring change toward a just society where every person has personal, social, and economic power.
Sisters-N-Technology (St. Paul) | $5,000 — To seed the summer programing curriculum for young girls to build their computer skills through personal mentorships, IT certification trainings, internships and jobs, and graduation support. Sisters-N-Technology’s mission is to engage young women in computer science and related IT fields.