Mission & Vision

Our mission is:
Amplify the power of community to advance equity and justice.

Our vision is:
Every Dream. Every Opportunity. For every Minnesotan.

Our history:
Headwaters was established in 1984 when a group of thoughtful, progressive donors got together. They believed that the people who experienced injustice were essential to ending it. They used this belief to build a different kind of grantmaking, one that placed decision-making in the hands of the community. This was the beginning of an innovative, community-centered, trust-centered model. 

Today, Headwaters is on the leading edge of philanthropy. We still rely on the community-centered model to make funding decisions. Our grantmaking program prioritizes community organizing, people of color, and indigenous people. To date, we have awarded more than $10 million to organizations across Minnesota. 

Our work is:

  • People-centered. Everything we do has roots in community. 
  • People-informed. Trusted volunteers guide our strategies, grantmaking decisions, and fundraising.
  • Power-shared. We use our foundation platform to strengthen social justice movement work.

Our values:

  • Advance equity: Community wisdom can reimagine an equitable society that works for everyone.
  • Demand inclusion: The people who are most affected by injustice must have decision-making voice, influence, and power.
  • Transform power: If we want to shift and grow power, philanthropy must help develop grassroots leaders and donor organizers. We must invest in their networks.
  • Trust in community: We will support and participate in the ambitious work communities do to advance equity and justice.

Our strategic priorities:

  • Community-led grantmaking: We place community leaders at the center of our grantmaking process. They read proposals, lead site visits, and make funding decisions. Our experience shows that collective impact needs collective learning and mutual investment. 
  • Donor education and engagement: We provide opportunities for donors to learn and act together. We support them as they explore the relationships between individual and societal power and privilege. 
  • Philanthropic organizing: We align allies, both institutional and individual, for bigger impact.