Mission & History

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

Our history:
Headwaters Foundation for Justice (HFJ) was established in 1984 when a group of thoughtful, progressive donors got together. They believed the people who directly experienced society’s injustices were essential to ending them. They used that belief to change philanthropy’s landscape, and created a new grantmaking model—one that shifted power away from funders and placed decision-making in the hands of the people. This was the start of an innovative, community-centered, trust-centered model.

Today, HFJ still relies on a community-centered model to guide all of our funding decisions. Our participatory grantmaking programs prioritize community organizing that is led by Black People, Indigenous People, and people of color (BIPOC). To date, we have awarded more than $10 million to grassroots 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: Our work supports movements and systems change that lead to individual resiliency and community power.
  • Demand inclusion: People who are most affected by inequity are often left out of decision-making work. We insist on changing that—nationally, regionally, and locally.
  • Transform power: We grow power through community-led grantmaking, donor education, and leadership development.
  • Trust in community: A community knows itself best, and its people need to lead the way to collective liberation. Our job is to listen to and support the solutions that will improve life for all Minnesotans.