Headwaters Announces Community Innovation Grant Recipients

January 7th, 2020 - Minneapolis
Headwaters Foundation for Justice awarded $130,000 to 13 organizations through its Community Innovation Grant program. The one-year, project-based grants ranged from $500 to $10,000. Support came from an ongoing partnership with the Bush Foundation.

The investments will help Minnesota’s communities find more effective, equitable, and sustainable solutions to their challenges and opportunities. “Five years of Community Innovation grantmaking proves how important it is for funders to truly invest in communities and community leaders,” said Program Director Melissa Rudnick. “Headwaters will keep centering their voices in everything we do; we know they have the wisdom and power to solve challenges, leverage opportunities, and strengthen communities.”

The 13 Community Innovation Grant recipients (and their headquarter cities) are:

All Parks Alliance for Change – Saint Paul
All Parks Alliance for Change (APAC) is a nonprofit tenants union for Minnesotans who live in mobile home parks. Its mission is to serve as a vehicle to promote meaningful social change, to protect the legal rights of park residents, and to improve the quality of life in manufactured home parks. APAC has been on the forefront of the mobile justice movement since the 1980s.

Because park residents own their homes but not the land, they often face the risk of displacement. APAC will lead a statewide grassroots campaign to promote mobile park resident rights. Staff will connect with at-risk park communities and resident-owned park cooperatives. Teams of resident advocates will then share their stories with legislators to advance public policy change. Together, APAC and its diverse community will work for safe, affordable, and stable park communities.

Appetite For Change – Minneapolis
Appetite For Change (AFC) uses food as a tool to build health, wealth, and social change in North Minneapolis. AFC is a community-led organization that strengthens families, creates economic prosperity, and encourages healthy living.

AFC’s West Broadway Farmers Market partners with urban farmers and vendors who are based in the neighborhood. It centers the Northside community, including the neighborhood’s youth, in everything it does. Now, AFC wants more local residents and vendors to get involved with the Market. Staff will use community insights to test ideas, listen to feedback, and bring in new businesses and customers.

Asian American Organizing Project – Saint Paul
Asian American Organizing Project (AAOP) is a non-partisan grassroots organization. It was founded in 2013 by mostly Hmong male community organizers; it has since grown thanks to young Asian leaders who are mostly women, queer, and trans. Its mission is to advance Asian American participation in democracy for an equitable and just society.

AAOP will launch a gender justice cohort to develop civic leadership skills for Pan-Asian and LGBTQ young people. Cohort leaders will create and lead workshops, trainings, and hands-on community engagement exercises so participants can build power and influence policy making. The aim is to promote healthy sexuality, address sexual violence, and strengthen the Minnesota gender justice movement to end patriarchy, transphobia, and homophobia.

Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha – Minneapolis
Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha (CTUL) believes that workers are the most effective voices and advocates when it comes to wages and working conditions. It organizes Twin Cities low-wage workers to lead the struggle for fair wages, better working conditions, basic respect, and a clear voice in the workplace. CTUL is a longtime Headwaters grantee that is committed to securing fair working conditions for present and future generations.

CTUL will let low-wage workers in the Twin Cities know about their rights to sick paid days and a $15 minimum wage. Staff will help workers develop the confidence they need to stand up for themselves and organize each other. CTUL’s project stems from three years of successful advocacy work for stronger labor standards

Exposed Brick Theatre – Saint Paul
Founded in 2004, Exposed Brick Theatre (EBT) is dedicated to telling untold stories, centering omitted narratives, and creating art at the intersection of identities. It believes that culture shifts toward equity and justice when all narratives are amplified.

Through Our Eyes is a new EBT project. The three-year mentorship opportunity will support six aspiring artists from refugee and immigrant communities to develop original plays. The playwrights will take part in a series of facilitated workshops and publicly stage their work in celebration. The project will help EBT address increasing hostility toward immigrant and refugee communities. It will also offer meaningful experiences for audiences and artists who don’t normally see themselves on stage.

Good Food Purchasing Policy Twin Cities – Minneapolis
The Twin Cities Coalition of the Good Food Purchasing Program (TC-GFPP) is part of a national organizing effort. It works to create a transparent and equitable food system through investment in healthy and local food, fair labor, well-being of people, animals, and the environment.

Building on success from a previous community listening session, TC-GFPP will host a gathering for Indigenous farmers and farmers of color. The gathering will bring together leaders of farmer-led racial equity policy initiatives, including the California Farmer Justice Collaborative. Attending farmers will discuss opportunities for collaborative policy work and create a support network. 

Hispanic Outreach Program of Goodhue – Red Wing
Hispanic Outreach of Goodhue County (HOGC) provides programs and services that strengthen the Hispanic community contribution to Goodhue County while growing Hispanic cultural awareness. There is no other agency in the county that does this kind of work.

HOGC’s project addresses the potential for an undercount in the 2020 Census of Hispanic residents in the community. Such an undercount would lead to Minnesota losing a U.S. House of Representative seat, an Electoral College vote, and receiving reduced federal funding. Staff will lead public outreach and awareness efforts to encourage Hispanic residents to participate in the Census.

Navigate MN – Minneapolis
Navigate MN is an immigrant-led, multigenerational, Latinx-based community organization that builds power for gender, racial, and economic justice. It exists to help Latinxs achieve their fullest potential.

Poder Fellows is a cohort opportunity for youth who have an interest in community organizing, public policy and civic engagement. The 2020 Poder Fellows class will center the civic engagement of Latinx families in Greater MN and turn that momentum into policy wins in 2021. Poder Fellows are undocumented, first-generation immigrants; Indigenous people; and Afro-Latinx, Black, queer, trans, gender non-conforming/non-binary, and differently abled working-class youth.

Somali American Women Action Center – Minneapolis
Somali American Women Action Center (SAWAC) champions immigrant and refugee women to achieve and thrive economically. It builds community for young girls and refugee women to learn, grow, and become community leaders.

The EntrepreneurHer Project aims to break the cycle of poverty that immigrant and refugee women often experience. SAWAC will pilot a yearlong sewing entrepreneurship opportunity for Hennepin County and Ramsey County residents. Staff will show participants how to sell their products online and, in the process, support self-sufficiency and the creative economy.

South Sudanese Foundation – Moorhead
South Sudanese Foundation (SSF) will elevate academic enrichment and youth development through a culturally responsive tutoring project. Tutors who are fluent in English and Dinka and who immigrated to the United States as young adults will lead project activities. Participating students will share their strengths and challenges with their tutors, which will help teams develop specific learning plans. Tutors will work with students, their teachers, and their families to fully maximize tutoring sessions.

St. David's Center for Child and Family Development – Minnetonka
St. David’s Center for Child and Family Development (SDC) builds relationships that nurture the development of every child and family. It is a preschool, children’s mental health clinic, autism center, and pediatric therapy clinic—all under one roof. SDC serves thousands of children and families served in their homes, foster homes, and schools across the community.

An SDC-led collaboration will redefine caregiving is working on foster care system reform through its Quality Parenting Initiative Minnesota. The goal is to redefine caregiving to center the best interest of the child. The Initiative provides peer-led training for foster parents along with other supports. SDC will expand the service area into nearby counties, responding to building momentum and interest.

Urban Homeworks, Inc. – Minneapolis
Urban Homeworks uses equitable housing as a platform to build community. It transforms vacant or distressed properties across Minneapolis and Saint Paul into dignified, healthy homes.

A housing cooperative is a form of homeownership where residents collectively own and control their properties. Community feedback tells Urban Homeworks that people are interested in exploring housing cooperatives as a wealth-building tool. Staff will identify partners and develop resident training opportunities, community engagement strategies, and capacity-building resources.

Voices for Racial Justice – Minneapolis
Voices for Racial Justice (VRJ) advances racial, cultural, social, and economic justice in Minnesota. It does this through organizer and leadership training; strategic convenings and campaigns; and research and policy tools.

Building on its history of prison justice and census engagement work, VRJ will encourage historically undercounted communities affected by incarceration to take part in the census. It will lead trainings and conversations with incarcerated people, formerly incarcerated people, and their families. The project goal is to help the community better understand the impacts and connections between census work, gerrymandering, and mass incarceration.

Applicants were asked to define their community, identify a challenge or opportunity, and outline their proposed solution. After an initial review, a committee of volunteer grantmakers reviewed applications against program criteria and made funding recommendations to the Headwaters Board of Directors.

Starting in 2020, Headwaters will offer Community Innovation grants two times per year—a change from previous years. The first round of 2020 opens on Tuesday, February 18th at 9 a.m.

Applications are due online at 5 p.m. Central Time on Tuesday, March 17th, 2020. Organizations can request between $500-$15,000 in funding.

For more program information, please visit our website or contact Program Director Melissa Rudnick: melissa@headwatersfoundation.org or 612-400-6266. For help using the online portal, contact Grants and Program Associate Noelle Martinez: noelle@headwatersfoundation.org or 612-400-6262.