2017 Annual Report

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Funding Movements


Dear Friends,

Thank you for all you have done to build and strengthen Headwaters Foundation for Justice. I am proud to share our Fiscal Year 2017 Annual Report.

Today, many of us are challenged to embrace optimism. With so many of our neighbors under attack, it can be difficult to imagine that real change is possible. Each day we are bombarded with inhumane policy changes, shocking acts of violence, and divisive rhetoric – all aimed at dividing us, rather than uniting us.

Headwaters Foundation believes that grassroots organizations play a critical role in social change. From our history we know that meaningful change takes years, and requires financial resources to sustain these efforts over time. This political moment has required swift and immediate actions.

On January 25, 2017 – just five days after the presidential inauguration – Headwaters brought together over 80 community members to talk about what’s next. As supporters of Headwaters Foundation for Justice, this multi-racial, cross-class, intergenerational, multi-gender, interfaith group of people discussed working and organizing together as the most important next steps.

That evening one thing became clear to me: this is about movements, not moments. Our work is about supporting communities for the long haul. Being there when organizations are brand new and building. Sticking with them when it seems like the chips are stacked against them.

We are clear that today’s injustices are the result of structures and systems that have been designed by a few to enrich even fewer.

Headwaters Foundation for Justice, and community partners across the state of Minnesota, have continued to build and strengthen our movements. Headwaters’ grantmaking and capacity building efforts have helped to catalyze tremendous victories for our communities.

As a community foundation, we have taken a bold step to live our values through community-based financial support of grassroots efforts. We’ve been a leader in the development of visionaries in the movement. We do philanthropy unapologetically different. Our work is about change, not charity. It’s about movements, not moments.

Let’s invest in our communities. Let’s make change together. Let’s build movements for justice. Thank you for being with us.

In solidarity,

David Sig

David Nicholson
Executive Director

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We’ve been making bold strides for years—it’s part of who we are. Too many foundations don’t take the time to listen and respond to the needs of their grantees.

For the first time ever, Headwaters Foundation made two-year general operating grants through the New Majority Fund, which focused on organizations led by and for communities of color. This fund was initiated in direct response to grantee feedback for more consistent, long term funding. Giving Project participants raised money and supported nine organizations through the New Majority Fund.

We build power by bringing together people to organize resources in their community and then make grants from the resources they pool together. Through our grant making Headwaters provides the mechanisms to empower community and develop bold leaders.

Young Muslim Collective


Born out of a vision that we can make a better world by investing in the wisdom and power of community we have Community-led grantmaking at the core of our identity. We believe the people most affected by inequities hold the knowledge of what needs to be done to upend oppression. We place grassroots leaders at the center of our grantmaking process, because we trust the people on the front lines of social justice movements.

Headwaters embarked on a statewide Community Conversations Project to ask the question: What it will take to build stronger movements for equity and justice in Minnesota? We heard from our grantee partners and community members about evolving needs of our movements, and they challenged Headwaters to adapt. Headwaters is responding by creating a vision for growing our grantmaking to larger, multi-year grants, and offering support and leadership opportunities to help build our movements to scale.

Giving Project


Headwaters is unapologetic about our values. We believe that dismantling racial, class, and economic injustice is necessary for creating systems and institutions that benefit all Minnesotans. In 2017 we launched the New Majority Fund—a fund that exclusively supports organizations that are led by and for communities of color and are specifically using a community organizing approach to address root causes of injustice. Headwaters Foundation believes that change is created by individuals who have the courage to stand up, the wisdom to join together, and the support to create durable, sustainable solutions. The New Majority Fund gives community led organizations the tools needed to be leaders in their communities.



Walking the talk on racial justice:
From our grantmaking and capacity building, to our leadership development, Headwaters walks the talk on racial justice and cross class leadership. We know the people most impacted by racism and xenophobia must be at the center of our work. Likewise, white people have something to gain by learning alongside people of color. We believe that collective liberation is possible when we acknowledge that no one can be free until all people are free. Headwaters is committed to our community-led grantmaking committees that are made up of a multi-racial, multi-faith and cross class group of people. The collective wisdom of these committees effects real change.

Headwaters Foundation is on the leading edge of transformational philanthropy. We believe that every person's contribution matters. Philanthropy is about more than giving and receiving. Philanthropy is an act of love. It is an act of faith in our society and our power as people to create change. For us, philanthropy is about supporting movements, not moments.

Dream of Wild Health


Oyate Hotanin

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