•Allies for Justice Thursday, May 16
•Act for Marriage Equality
•Social Change Fund Site Visits
•Donor Briefing - April 25
•Community Voices: MN Coalition for the Homeless
•Give Out Day - May 9
•Allies for Justice early bird prices!
MINNEAPOLIS, MN- March 7, 2013: The Headwaters Foundation for Justice announces its 15th annual Allies for Justice Awards, this year honoring work that promotes environmental justice and sustainable development. Each of this year's honorees is making significant contributions to tipping the scales into balance in these arenas.
The Convergence Partnership, a collaboration of eight of the nation's leading funders and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has awarded $190,000 to the Headwaters Foundation for Justice to support its work building healthier, more equitable communities.
The Headwaters Foundation for Justice announced today new partnerships with two Native American philanthropies, the national Honor the Earth Campaign and the Two Feathers Endowment, an affiliate of Minnesota Philanthropy Partners. Serving as an intermediary, Headwaters will further the goals of these respective partners in different ways.
Last month, Minnesotans went to the polls in record numbers, renewing our commitment to a government by and for the people. Voter turnout was 76 percent, the highest in the nation. With all Minnesota’s votes counted, we can see some encouraging trends that are moving us to a more just Minnesota. Program Director David Nicholson reflects on last month's election results.
A spirit of joyful rebellion. That, according to Executive Director Dan McGrath, is a common trait of TakeAction Minnesota’s thousands of members. “The idea is that we are up against some big challenges, but we’re also going to have fun as we go do it”, he says. The large and bustling office space surrounding him seems to be testifying to his point: a constant stream of people breezily walk by, stop for a cup of coffee, hold impromptu hallway meetings or poke their heads into one of the office’s many conference rooms. The dynamism of the environment is striking, inviting, and undoubtedly energizing. Perhaps that is the secret behind TakeAction Minnesota’s tremendous growth since its inception seven years ago—membership has multiplied tenfold, social media presence is booming and victories from the past legislative session remind all members of just how much can be achieved in this ‘joyful rebellion’.
“TakeAction is a state-wide people’s network”, explains Dan. “We connect individuals and organizations to make change in a way that wasn’t possible before.” As big and complex as TAMN is as a coalition, it can be summed up in one word: interconnectedness. A young organization with deep roots, TakeAction was started when two progressive coalitions, Minnesota Alliance for Progressive Action (MAPA) and Progressive Minnesota, joined forces after having an important wake-up call: “They realized,” says Dan, “that we’ve got to be better than the sum of our parts. Let’s be real, they said, we are not winning a lot as a movement right now. We need to find a way to operate on a bigger scale and be better connected to each other if we are going to turn things around.” TakeAction provides a space and a focal point where people from all walks of life can rally together to push forward the movement for social, economic and racial justice. The organization’s members are excited to have a place to go where they can feel connected and feel like a part of something larger. There’s a lot of people out there who, says Dan, feel like “I’m the only one on my block, or in my neighborhood, or on my cul-de-sac that thinks this way.” When people are able to find each other, there is not only a sense of hopefulness—a sense of possibility—but a sense of joy, a sense of “we can do this, we can actually make a difference”.
The issues that TakeAction takes on are as interconnected as its members. Minnesota is infamously home to the nation’s worst racial job gap in the nation, a key problem TakeAction is ceaselessly fighting against. The organization also works on healthcare access and quality, fair revenue, voting rights, voter engagement and expanding grassroots democracy. Results are concrete: in the 2013 legislative session, TakeAction was involved in passing the “Ban the Box” bill, the new Health Insurance Exchange, the closure of milllions in corporate tax loopholes and a major expansion in the MinnesotaCare program.. Despite such impressive victories for the progressive movement, Dan’s attitude about the road ahead is very clear: “Our movement is getting stronger and we are winning huge policy victories for Minnesotans. But the truth is—life is not getting better for most of the people we are accountable to. It’s getting worse. Things in this country and this world are getting harder, especially for people at the low end of the economic ladder.”
That honesty, says Dan, is why the movement for equity and justice is moving away from empire-building and towards outcome-oriented collaboration. A new generation of leaders is emerging, leaders who are honest about the fact that not a whole lot has been won, leaders who are way more interested in changing things than in building a resume, and who above all are experimenting with new ways to rise to the challenges they face. “And Headwaters has been at the front of that,” adds Dan. “Whenever we have wanted to take a risk, Headwaters has been the first one to jump in with us. And that is very unique. When you are thinking about what is going on in MN, you can trace a lot of that back to the sort of risk Headwaters was willing to take with a set of organizations that were just emerging, not yet proven, but had some sort of conviction and belief that something could change.” Today, the cycle continues: after all, those who best know the ebbs and flows of the ever-changing justice landscape are members from the very communities that are affected. And when these members are brought together by organizations such as TakeAction Minnesota, there are plenty of reasons to believe that we are not in an era of ‘talk the talk’ but in, as Dan says, an era of “walk the talk”.
“I’m moved by Headwaters’ ability to understand that big change doesn’t happen by throwing money at huge organizations that have all of the bells and whistles – they know that real change comes out of funding the organizing power of the people,” Espejel said.