January 2019 Newsletter

This is the same content that was sent out in the January 2019 newsletter. Click the subheadings to expand the content. 

Thank You for Our Best Financial Year Ever!

MicroGrants had a stunning 2018. Total revenue was up 30% from 2017. Thanks to our increased revenue, we gave out about 31% more in grants last year than we did in 2017. Our average grant amount has also increased.

We accomplished all of this while staying within budget with respect to our expenses. Our exact figures will be published in our annual report, which will be released in the spring.

Our education grantee Eliphaz perfectly exemplifies our gratitude and the gratitude of those directly affected by our grants. Watch a video of grantee Eliphaz thanking donors. Thank you so much! 

Joe Selvaggio Caps Off Amazing Run with MicroGrants

Joe Selvaggio, MicroGrants’ founder and former CEO, chaired his last board meeting on Thursday, December 20, 2018. Joe is a social entrepreneur with a decades-long record in the Twin Cities nonprofit community. We are so grateful for his leadership at MicroGrants!

Joe grew up in Chicago, and his first career was as a priest. After leaving the priesthood, he founded Project for Pride in Living in Minneapolis in 1972. Its goal was and is “to create affordable housing and revitalize central Minneapolis,” according to PPL’s website.

Once PPL was well-established, Joe left and founded the One Percent Club. This organization urged wealthy Minnesotans to donate at least one percent of their net worth, rather than a percentage of their income, to charity every year.

In 2006, Joe founded MicroGrants, having been given $50,000 of seed money by two friends. He was MicroGrants CEO for ten years, growing it from a small enterprise based out of his basement to the sustainable and vibrant organization it is today.

For the past several years, Joe has served as board chair. As he stepped down from that role, the board asked him to honor MicroGrants as a board member for life, and Joe graciously accepted.

Lights On! Updates

Pivot Strategies Joins Lights On! Team

Pivot Strategies, a local public relations firm with clients such as Nike, Medtronic, and Thompson Reuters, has decided to take Lights On! as their nonprofit account. Most of Pivot’s work will be done pro bono. Pivot Strategies aims to solidify Lights On!’s key messaging, identify principal audiences, and create effective materials for expansion.

We are deeply grateful for Pivot’s interest in working with Lights On! and excited about the improvements they will bring to the program! Because of the gift from the Joyce Foundation, MicroGrants is able to work with Pivot Strategies on this critical portion of the Lights On! program without using donor dollars.

Lights On! Featured in Minnesota Police Chiefs Magazine

The Minnesota Police Chief magazine ran a three-page feature on Lights On! in their fall 2018 issue. What follows are excerpts from the article.

“It happens dozens of times a day, all over the state. Officers pull over a driver for having a taillight out. Maybe it’s a headlight. While it might not seem like a big deal to police, it’s a different story for the driver that probably doesn’t have a happy ending. Sometimes a new bulb can cost $40. Sometimes the cost to rewire a light could approach $300.

“‘You might not be able to fix that light. Or, what do you have to sacrifice to fix that light? Poor people are making decisions like that every day,’ says Don Samuels, who founded the Lights On! program after the Philando Castile incident. ‘Do I pay the rent or do I buy food? This kind of expense—unexpected, one that’s not been budgeted for—it could be critical for someone.’ . . . 

“In 2017, MicroGrants kicked off Lights On! where it all began, in Columbia Heights. 16 agencies, including St. Paul, Minneapolis and Brooklyn Park were represented. Between April and December of 2017, Twin Cities cops handed out more than 400 vouchers. The Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) has just requested 500 more vouchers for its patrol officers. . . 

“‘The beauty of this program is everyone, from police officers to drivers to community leaders, can get behind this effort in your community,’ said Lights On! Program Director Sherman Patterson. ‘We can all relate to being pulled over. Each voucher has the potential to turn a lose-lose situation—the traffic stop—into a win-win where we’re helping low income drivers and changing how officers are viewed.”

We are very grateful for the magazine’s story about Lights On! and hope that this coverage will help us expand into Greater Minnesota, while increasing local usage of the Lights On! program.

Grantee Spotlights

Business Grantee: Larene

Education Grantee: Alisa

Business Grantee: Mary

Now You Can Donate a Car for a Transportation Grant

MicroGrants is now accepting donated cars for our transportation grant program. Car donations can be taken to any Bobby and Steve’s Auto World location. Bobby and Steve’s will assess its value and determine if repairs are necessary.

This new program will help meet the increased demand for transportation grants. Like most of us, grantees find access to transportation is key to their employment. They also need cars to take kids to school, get to classes themselves, and get to the grocery store. Without cars from MicroGrants, many of our grantees would be forced to take long, complicated bus commutes or even forfeit employment opportunities entirely.

This new program will help even more grantees get the cars they need for better employment and a higher standard of living for their families.

To donate a car, call 612-200-8174.