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WFMN Announces New Strategic Plan to Advance Systems Change for Gender & Racial Justice

View the WFMN’s full 2022-2029 strategic plan.


As a statewide community foundation, the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota’s (WFMN) mission is to end systemic inequities and drive innovation for gender and racial justice.


A world of opportunity where all women, girls, and gender-expansive people across intersecting identities – and their families – have the power to create and lead safe, prosperous lives.


Hope, Generosity, Courage, Inclusion & Belonging

Our strategic plan describes the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota’s (WFMN) ambitious seven-year vision (April 2022 – March 2029) to partner with the state’s diverse women, girls, and gender-expansive people, and set in motion powerful actions that end systemic inequities and drive innovation for gender and racial justice and systems change. For us, systems change means shifting structures to reduce and eliminate barriers, increase access to opportunity, and achieve gender and racial justice.

The Foundation began this strategic planning initiative during the ravages of a global pandemic and racial uprisings in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. With Minneapolis at the epicenter of this movement for racial justice, the context provided a salient backdrop. The convergence of tragic events and the tipping point of racial justice movements exposed inescapable inequities, emboldened staff and stakeholders to bring their boldest thinking to bear and inspired a culture of radical possibilities. From the ashes of grief and disappointment, a sense emerged that the best legacy for our state’s community of women, girls, and gender-expansive people who represent our mothers, sisters, aunts, children, and partners, is to honor this moment of loss with a commitment for deep change and transformation.

With our strategic planning partner, The Genius Group, Inc., a Transformation Committee guided the development of this plan and the process illustrated WFMN’s deepening commitment to strengthening community leadership and power. As a dynamic group of community leaders, grantee-partners, and the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota (WFMN) board and staff, the Committee reflects the cross-section of identities valued in WFMN’s intersectional equity values and practices.

The Foundation deeply considered this framing question:

What will it take for WFMN to become a leading anti-racist community foundation, boldly driving systems change for gender and racial justice?

This plan begins to answer this question, grounded in the Foundation’s legacy of impact and growth and in solidarity with Minnesota’s women, girls, and gender-expansive people as they lead the work and way forward.

Our philanthropic practice is guided by the Foundation’s values of Hope, Generosity, Courage, Inclusion, and Belonging. These values informed our plan’s development and heightened our sense of possibility. We place great trust in our state’s ability to grow, learn, and change on the path toward equity and justice.

A New Imperative:
Transforming From Equity to Justice

The new imperative to successfully advance gender and racial justice and restore integrity, compassion, and fairness to our democracy requires large-scale systems change.

WFMN recognizes that true systems change is not just a technical or tactical tinkering around the edges. The work requires greater commitment to sharing power, accountability, and learning with community as well as collaborative, adaptive leadership. This transformative work requires the talent and creativity of all Minnesota women, girls, and gender-expansive people, and will be increasingly and often led by diverse women.

As connectors and conveners, we will use this strategic plan to collaborate with business, government, philanthropy, and community-led partners to redesign and transform our systems with community power in leadership, safety, holistic well-being + reproductive justice, and economic justice.

Journey to Now

The plan grows from a history of innovative growth over many years. With this plan, we emphasize the necessity of working within an intersectional framework of analysis and an anti-racist practice.

For WFMN, this moment builds on an era of work focused on intersectional equity; this focus on justice is also distinguished by its urgency.

In this shift from equity to justice, WFMN is not starting from a blank slate. With this strategic plan, WFMN builds on earlier accomplishments and applies its intersectional analysis, anti-racist framework, and innovative action-taking to advance gender and racial justice through systems change. We affirm the features of racial justice defined by the Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity and elevate the leadership and power of community members most affected by gender bias and systemic racism as active partners in transforming our systems.

To a lens of racial equity, a racial justice lens adds four critical elements:

  • Understands and acknowledges racial history
  • Creates a shared affirmative vision of a fair and inclusive society
  • Focuses explicitly on building civic, cultural, and political power by those most impacted
  • Emphasizes transformative solutions that impact multiple systems

In the spirit of Sankofa, the mythical Ghanian bird that flies powerfully forward by looking back to grasp the past’s best lessons), this strategic plan’s sharpened focus on advancing gender and racial justice is grounded in our history of innovation—identifying gender and racial inequities, addressing the root causes of inequities, listening to communities, and learning from strong partners across the state. Still, the voice of communities and the research signaled that WFMN must be more bold in working on deep issues and solutions to eliminate the inequities Black, Brown, Indigenous women, and communities of color experience.

A New Approach

As a community foundation based in the United States, we at WFMN cannot fully participate in ending sexism, misogyny, and racism and its underlying systems and culture without first transforming our own thinking, decision-making, leadership styles, and philanthropic practices.

As a field, women’s philanthropy, like our broader society, carries the burden of historically privileging white women’s realities, needs, and dreams while minimizing the critical perspectives of women and communities of color and the resources they need. Over the last two decades, the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota has worked diligently to listen and learn from the lived experience, wisdom, and solutions of diverse women, girls, and gender-expansive people. By adopting an anti-racist practice, we seek to transform our own philanthropic culture while catalyzing systems change within the field.

Seeing the historical bias within women’s philanthropy, WFMN recognizes the need for a different narrative and approach. With this strategic plan, we join the fight to realize gender and racial justice in the core systems, structures, and cultures that should serve all women, girls, and gender-expansive people. In this way, our strategic plan goals are a practical step to equitably sharing critical resources to achieve justice and prosperity with all women, girls, gender-expansive people, and their communities.

As our co-chair of the Transformation Committee and
Board Chair Nevada Littlewolf shared:

We continue to build powerful partnership with those who believe in this call for change and action.

This work can’t be done without a shared commitment to the same transformative change that inspires us to dream and realize a new day. We invite all of our partners to invest in this work with us.

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