The Women’s Foundation of Minnesota has awarded 18 multi-year grants and four planning grants totaling $330,000 to nonprofit organizations through its girlsBEST (girls Building Economic Success Together) Fund. The seventh cohort of girlsBEST grantee-partners are receiving the first year of funding on 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 support planning and are limited to one year. The grant period for this funding is July 1, 2023, to June 30, 2024. All grantmaking supports general operations, which provides greatest flexibility for organizations.
Since 2002, girlsBEST has supported girl-led programs in Minnesota that increase the readiness of girls (ages 12-18) to achieve economic well-being. $5.1 million has been granted to 159 girl-led and girl-driven programs and engaged 48,536 young women and their families. In June 2022, WFM convened current and former girlsBEST grantee-partners to discuss their vision for the next iteration for girlsBEST programming. Collectively, grantee-partners shared the importance of choice for young women and gender-expansive people. One partner shared their wish that programs not “push girls towards STEM-related activities as the only worthwhile pursuits.” We support all girls and gender-expansive people having greater autonomy to determine what economic success looks like for them. In the seventh cohort of girlsBEST, grantees will focus on STEAME (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math, and Entrepreneurship) to invest in girls as the best way to build opportunities and boost their future economic success. in response to the isolation many youth have been experiencing since the pandemic, partners have highlighted the need to focus on mental health and incorporate activities designed to build connections and decrease stress.
In the current cohort, 23% of partners are based in Greater Minnesota.
African Women and Youth Resource Center (Brooklyn Center) | $20,000 – To support about 100 girls that identify as African immigrant and low-income to participate in financial literacy classes for economic stability. The program teaches participants how to create a budget, open personal checking accounts, and about savings accounts, credit cards, ROI, trading, and homeownership. The organization works with African immigrants to settle and thrive in their new community, using education as a pathway to success.
Bagosendaan (Mahnomen) | $15,000 – To support the speaker program and encourage leadership opportunities for girls to mentor newer participants to develop horse-rider competence, promote a strong sense of positive and cultural identity, and provide support and/or intervention when a participant is unhoused or abused. A girlsBEST partner since 2010, Bagosendaan serves low-income youth, ages 11 to 18, to engage their interests, provide motivation, and build competence by engaging talking circles, counselors, guest speakers, and horseback riding.
Centro Tyrone Guzman (Minneapolis) | $10,000 – To run Jóvenes Latinas al Poder (Young Latinas to Power), designed for Latina teen girls and femme-identifying youth to exercise their leadership and collective power to advocate for justice, inclusion, and equity. Participants are actively engaged in advocacy that explores the stereotypes and causes of anti-Blackness, strategies for changing harmful narratives, and creates safer and more inclusive environments for LGBTQIA+ Latines. In addition, they participate in the Manos Montessori intergenerational social enterprise, where they engage with elders to develop and produce Montessori learning materials for young children.
Comunidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio (CLUES) (Saint Paul) | $15,000 – To support Youth in Action (YA!), a holistic and culturally relevant youth program focused on high school graduation and college access for Latinx youth from low-income backgrounds. This two-generation approach engages parents and community members as mentors through one-on-one sessions and leadership development to empower Latinx youth to grow into strong leaders and successful adults. CLUES is the largest Latino-led organization in Minnesota. Its mission is to advance the social and economic equity and well-being for Latinos by building upon strengths and cultures, uplifting their community, and activating leadership for systemic change.
Dakota Wicohan (Morton) | $20,000 – To provide youth programming from middle school through college focusing on Dakota heritage to increase cultural belonging and Wicozani (well-being)/health. A girlsBEST grantee-partner since 2013, 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.
Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys (Saint Paul) | $20,000 – To support community engagement programs, which provide mentorship and culturally responsive programming for girls ages 12-18 in the Twin Cities, Rochester, Worthington, and River Valleys. Program topics include social emotional skills, academic skills, STEM, life skills, mental health, entrepreneurship, outdoors, and leadership/advocacy. Through the program, topics come to life as girls go on college tours, meet women working in a variety of industries, and build their own cookie business together.
High School for Recording Arts (HSRA) (Saint Paul) | $20,000 – To create educational programming from Native American cultural histories, incorporating the history of boarding schools and the resulting intergenerational trauma, by reading A Council of Dolls authored by Mona Susan Power. Participants from the Girls’ Group, Native American Cultural Club, Visual Inclusion Program, and the Business of Music/Another Level Records will meet the author and work with staff in the recording studios to create a song around the book and its themes and create and air a podcast. High School for Recording Arts is a charter high school that has engaged students for 25 years through music and the exploration and operation of the music business and other creative endeavors while earning a high school diploma.
Hnub Tshiab: Hmong Women Achieving Together (Saint Paul) | $15,000 – To create a Hmong Girls Leadership Retreat that will encompass a combination of sisterhood, personal financing, career opportunities, personal leadership skills, group coaching, reflection, networking, and cultural education. Girls will be able to envision what their leadership looks like and have a clear business plan while taking pride in their cultural heritage and identity, including the root causes of gender inequality for Hmong women, and how heritage can be incorporated into business.
Liberty Community Church, PCUSA (Minneapolis) | $20,000 – To support the STEAM (Science, Technology Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) programming, including Architecture Camp and Investment Clubs for K-12 girls and gender-expansive youth. Participants will meet once a month to gain an understanding of the stock market, review investing terminology, participate in simulated trading platforms, and improve overall financial literacy. The goal of Liberty’s 21st Century Academy is to prepare scholars to be fearless global ambassadors of radical hope and power, eliminate generational poverty, and promote community and environmental healing.
Men As Peacemakers (Duluth) | $20,000 – To run the Making Equal Genders Awesome (MEGA) youth programming, a social-emotional learning, gender equity curricula, leadership development, and mentoring for 4th-6th grade boys and empowerment and leadership development for 7th-12th grade youth of all genders. Programming will focus on girls and femme-identified youth ages 13-19 years old from Lincoln Park Middle School and Denfeld High School in need of additional support.
MIGIZI Communications (Minneapolis) | $20,000 – To support the Culture Leadership Academic Well-Being (CLAW) program, First Person Productions, and Green Tech Initiative programs. Participants will receive programming that includes tutoring, language learning (Dakota and Ojibwe), ribbon skirt workshop, moccasin-making, traditional beading, Black-Indigenous storytelling, winter storytelling with guest elders, red willow (traditional tobacco) harvest, plant medicine exploration, podcasting and audio engineering, videography/filmography, graphic design, exploring environmental disasters like oil spills and hantavirus epidemic on Dine land, wild ricing, and environmental pollution with a focus on water quality.
Minnesota Urban Debate League (MNUDL), Augsburg University (Minneapolis) | $15,000 – To run the Financial Literacy Leadership debates program, tailored to girls and gender-expansive individuals with a focus on economic empowerment. Participants build important skills like critical thinking, deep listening, note taking, verbal communication, and argumentation. MNUDL programming is designed to help students achieve their dreams by supporting their academic journey from middle school, high school, through the college admissions process, to college and beyond.
One Heartland (Willow River) | $20,000 – To support Camp True Colors, a two-year progressive leadership program for participants ages 16 and 17 to develop leadership skills, job skills, or the skills needed to work at camp in the future. Participants build upon their leadership to develop campers into year-round advocates for LGBTQ+ issues and sexual health. For 30 years One Heartland has been a beacon and a haven for youth confronting a world that attacks them based on health status, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
Pillsbury United Communities (Minneapolis) | $20,000 – To run the Sisterhood Boutique, a social enterprise founded by and specifically programmed for girls/femme/gender-expansive youth. Through the Sisterhood Clubs, the program will serve 65 girls and gender-expansive youth and provide trainings for the workforce, where participants have produced zines on Muslim identity and fashion, upcycled clothing, and organized fashion shows.
Project FINE (Winona) | $20,000 – To support the Girls Reaching Above and Beyond (GRAB) program, designed to help girls ages 12-18 from refugee and immigrant families to prepare for future economic stability and success. Program activities expose girls to a variety of educational and career options, financial education, and personal exploration to define their goals and begin creating a plan to achieve those goals. Project FINE’s mission is to strengthen and enrich the Winona community by facilitating the integration of people who are ethnically diverse.
Women’s Initiative for Self Empowerment (WISE) (Saint Paul) | $20,000 – To run the Girls Getting Ahead in Leadership (GGAL) program, which serves low-income, immigrant/refugee girls/women/individuals on the feminine gender spectrum, in 6th-12th grades. Participants are exposed to a vast array of careers and life skills, providing a safe space to talk about difficult issues (sexual orientation, dating/sexual violence, acculturation, going against cultural expectations/norms), teaching them about financial literacy and reproductive health and rights, and helping them develop life skills that will support their self-actualization.
YWCA Mankato (Mankato) | $10,000 – To support the Girls Inc. Handball to University Program serving middle and high school girls and gender-expansive youth, ages 12-18. The program provides mentoring in academics and future employment that will lead to financially independence, such as aptitude tests, college visits, SAT/ACT prep, help with college and trade school selection and applications, and job shadowing for in-demand careers.
YWCA Minneapolis (Minneapolis) | $10,000 – To run the Girls Inc. Out-of-School Time (OST) and Eureka! programs, which serve girls and gender-expansive youth in 4th to 12th grade to prepare them for economic success through financial literacy. Participants receive a stipend for meeting attendance goals and completing an internship. These stipends are given by check to encourage the use of bank accounts that youth open and discuss during the program. In addition, OST participants earn credits throughout their program that can be used to practice budgeting at the Girls Inc. store.
Hopewell Music (Minneapolis) | $5,000 – To develop supplemental music education programming for middle and high school girls and gender-expansive youth as a safe place for their voices to be nurtured and heard. In lessons, they will learn how to break down and evaluate music and communicate clearly with teachers about their process. By gaining analytical skills, students begin to identify the skills that need strengthening and what tools they already possess to work through difficult sections of music. Hopewell began in 2012 with a mission to improve access to music education in North Minneapolis through affordable, inclusive, and engaging music programs.
Nonprofit for Black Girls (Minneapolis) | $5,000 – To provide a year-round, out of school mentorship programming for Black girls and girls of the African diaspora, ages 13 to 18. Participants will discover, nurture, and demonstrate the leader within by engaging in health and wellness, self-care, nutrition, and physical fitness; advocacy and community organizing efforts that aim to address racial and gender equity and promote social justice; college and career readiness programs that provide guidance and resources to help Black girls prepare for higher education and future careers.
Science Museum of Minnesota (Saint Paul) | $5,000 – To support the Design Team & Digital Media & Technology track at the Kitty Andersen Youth Science Center, which serves low-income girls of color ages 12-18. Participants will learn to build the assets and skills necessary to chart individual career paths and gain workforce-relevant training that leads to in-demand STEM-related fields. In addition, participants will learn about topics in the biological sciences and public health, environmental science and sustainability, media and technology, engineering and design, and apply them to social justice issues.
She Rock She Rock (St. Louis Park) | $5,000 – To support the Girls Rock n Roll Retreat (GRRR), which provides a space for more than 100 girls, ages 9 to17, to learn an instrument, form a band, create their own music, participate in social justice workshops, and perform their final showcase concert at a real music venue in front of a packed crowd of cheering family, friends, and supporters. She Rock She Rock’s mission is dedicated to empowering girls, women, trans and nonbinary folks through the art of music.