December 2018 Newsletter

This is the same content that was sent out in the December 2018 newsletter. Click the subheadings to expand the content. 

Joyce Foundation and Phillips Foundation Grants to Help MicroGrants Grow

Lights On! Receives Joyce Foundation Grant

Lights On!
Recently, MicroGrants applied for a grant from the Joyce Foundation to fund the national expansion of the Lights On! program. At the end of November, we heard back from the Joyce Foundation: we received the grant!

The Joyce Foundation grant will fund our three-year expansion including re-energizing current police department partners, recruiting more departments, reaching out to cities in Greater Minnesota, and expanding Lights On! to cities across the US. With this expansion, our goal is to help other cities to develop their own locally based Lights On! programs.

According to the Joyce Foundation website, their organization “invests in reforming public policies and systems to improve the lives of people in the Great Lakes region and beyond.” Lights On! fits with the Joyce Foundation mission because it seeks to rethink public policy surrounding traffic stops and, by extension, a portion of the criminal justice system.

This grant gives MicroGrants the opportunity to reach more communities with our innovative approach to traffic stops. We hope that this novel idea for dealing with broken car lights will enhance community-police relations and inspire cities to consider more creative community-building problem-solving methods.

Phillips to Fund MicroGrants’ Work with NEON and WBC

The Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation, founded in 2016 to invest in North Minneapolis, has chosen to partner with MicroGrants and NEON (the Northside Economic Opportunity Network) and WBC (West Broadway Business Coalition) to help fund entrepreneurship in North Minneapolis.

This inaugurates a new category of grant for MicroGrants: business grants up to $5,000.

The Phillips Foundation has given MicroGrants $20,000 in 2018 for business grants to NEON and WBC’s recipients, with the intent of expanding the program in the coming years. The larger of these business grants are intended to give a more significant boost to Northside businesses.

NEON and WBC recently became MicroGrants partner agencies and were briefly featured in our September newsletter. NEON provides mentoring and technical assistance to entrepreneurs—mainly those of color. WBC works to enhance West Broadway as a neighborhood commercial hub.

The money from the Phillips Foundation is being directed by MicroGrants, through our usual vetting and application process with NEON or WBC as our partner agency.

We are excited that money from the Phillips Foundation is allowing us to expand our impact in the North Minneapolis business community and help more entrepreneurs of color.

Partner Highlight: Bobby and Steve's Auto World

Bobby & Steve's Auto World

MicroGrants partners with Bobby and Steve’s Auto World for both transportation grants and the Lights On! program. For transportation grants, Bobby and Steve’s secures cars for grantees, repairs grantees’ cars, and examines cars that grantees would like to buy from other sources. When it comes to Lights On!, Bobby and Steve’s donates the labor to change the lightbulbs that voucher recipients need replaced.

Jeff Bahe, co-owner of the Columbia Heights Bobby and Steve’s, recently described how much he loves helping with transportation grants: “People don’t realize how tough the buses can be . . . A car makes the difference for a lot of people. It is the factor in getting certain jobs or getting to work or being able to be independent.”

Regarding Lights On!, Jeff said, “People are so excited to get their car lights repaired . . . Everybody is happy with the program. The cops love the conversation with the drivers. Drivers say the cops have a great attitude.”

 Thank you, Bobby and Steve’s!

In the News

StarTribune Features MicroGrants’ Annual Event

The StarTribune’s Scene & Heard section on Sunday, November 4 featured MicroGrants’ October 1, 2018, annual grantee celebration. Neal St. Anthony wrote the nice article highlighting MicroGrants’ mission and our keynote speaker Adrian Coulter, pictured left (photo by Tricia Haynes).

Don and Sondra Samuels Featured in Minneapolis Club Magazine

The Minneapolis Club selected Don and Sondra Samuels as their Featured Members in the October 2018 Connections magazine (photo by Tricia Haynes).

In the article, Don Samuels described his work with MicroGrants and Lights On!, and Sondra Hollinger Samuels described the Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ), of which she is CEO. The two also spoke about their family, their hobbies, their love of theater, their radio show about parenting and neuroscience, and their goal of someday traveling to Botswana!

Bethel University Students Help MicroGrants with Computer Program

Students from Bethel University Professor Stephen Witing’s business and technology course tackled some upgrades in our data management system, Salesforce, this past spring. The students did a great job of adding new features and providing MicorGrants staff with training materials for everything they did.

MicroGrants uses Salesforce to keep track of applications, donors, and other contacts. Switching from the previous version to the new version was critical, and we’re extremely grateful for the Bethel students’ help!

Grantee Spotlights

Transportation Grantee: Antonio

With the help of MicroGrants, Antonio was able to get his car repaired. He said, “When I went [to Bobby and Steve’s], they gave me a checkup to see what needed to be done and they told me that there was a lot of stuff that had to be fixed, and, if those things couldn’t get fixed, my car would have [broken] down immediately . . . When MicroGrants was able to help out, the grant that they gave me to get my car repaired—I was actually really thankful for that because I wouldn’t be able to go to work, I wouldn’t be able to go to school without my car.

Education Grantee: Melody

Melody came to MicroGrants through Twin Cities RISE! She said, “I would like to thank MicroGrants for providing me the opportunity of returning back to school. Since receiving the micro grant, I have overcome . . . a financial barrier. . . I will be starting in the fall semester . . . to pursue my degree in business, which will in the future help me open my own childcare center. I would like to thank MicroGrants and Twin Cities RISE! for helping me overcome my obstacles.

Business Grantee: Robert

Robert, who came to MicroGrants through EMERGE, got a business grant to start a fitness enterprise. He says, “Before I was able to get the grant, I was trying to start [a] bootcamp, start kickboxing classes, start fitness classes, but I didn’t really have the tools. . . . Once I was able to get the grant, I was able to get punching bags, I was able to get square boxes . . . It was something that helped me be able to get the equipment that I needed to start my business. I’d like to say thank you to whoever it was that helped me, whoever it was, that was a speck of light in this world for me and allowed me to create my business.

Give to the Max: We Surpassed Our Goal!

Thursday, November 15, was Give to the Max Day, the culmination of 15 days of frenzied giving across Minnesota. MicroGrants raised $50,738, which, thanks to our $50,000 matching grant, became $100,738.

We are grateful for your generous support. Thanks to you, we made GiveMN’s top ten leaderboard for most money raised by an organization of our size! More importantly, we had our best financial year to date and will be able to give out even more grants next year!