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U of M team wins DOE challenge

“Team OptiMN,” a group of 14 undergraduate and grad students at the University of Minnesota with diverse majors (including building science, sustainable design, construction management and business), was the Grand Award Winner of The Department of Energy’s second annual "Race to Zero" Student Design Competition. The team won for its design of the OptiMN Impact Home in North Minneapolis.

Teams competing in the “Race to Zero” challenge were asked to design cost-effective zero-energy-ready homes for mainstream builders, according to a press release announcing the award, adding that, "The winning design uses high-performance features that sharply reduce energy use, and allow for most of the remaining energy use to be offset with renewable energy." The contest is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). This year, the competition involved 33 teams from 27 universities in the U.S., Canada and China. "Along with energy-efficiency, the designed homes must be comfortable and attractive as well as affordable," the release stated.

Green Homes North, one of team OptiMN's partners, plans on building 100 energy-efficient homes in North Minneapolis in the next five years. Team OptiMN made sure the home followed their guidelines. The team also partnered with Urban Homeworks to design a high performance, affordable, flexible home. Residential Science Resources was the team's energy rater partner.

Team OptiMN’s design goals centered around meeting: the DOE’s challenge to build a zero energy ready home; Urban Homework’s mission to produce equitable, dignified communities; and Green Homes North Initiative to revitalize North Minneapolis neighborhoods with affordable, sustainable and quality homes.


Accenture study finds Minneapolis top city in arts funding

A survey conducted by Accenture, based on an online questionnaire for 500 consumers ages 18 and older in 13 U.S. cities with substantive arts communities, found Minneapolis had the largest number of donors.

"When asked what kind of financial support they make to the arts," an article on the report says, "65 percent of respondents don't make separate donations, aside from the cost of membership and attendance at events. Of that, respondents in Minneapolis (47 percent), New York (46 percent), Washington D.C. (43 percent) and Boston (43 percent) had the largest number of donors." 

The survey asked respondents to weigh in on their approaches to arts philanthropy and engagement with the arts, and was part of a study examining how digital technologies can increase arts support. In an Accenture article about the study's findings, David Wilson, managing director the corporation's state and local government practice, and a Guthrie Theater board member, said, "Similar to so many organizations and businesses today, the arts are looking for new ways to connect with the millennial generation. This survey suggests that embracing new technologies and communications tools is crucial for arts organizations to remain relevant to the next generation of supporters."

Source: Accenture

Twin Cities ranks first in volunteerism

According to the Volunteering and Civic Life in America report, based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the residents of Minneapolis and St. Paul have the highest rate of volunteerism.
The report compared volunteer rates in the country's 51 largest metro areas, and found that 37 percent of Twin Cities residents volunteered in 2011.
As a state, Minnesota ranked fourth in the report, with 38 percent of residents volunteering. The top three states were Utah, Idaho, and Iowa.
In determining volunteer stats, researchers looked at the hours of contributed service, but noted that those numbers only included volunteering done through organizations. When residents were asked about doing favors for their neighbors, the rate shot up to nearly 73 percent in the Twin Cities.

Overall, the report noted that in 2011, the number of volunteers across the nation reached its highest level in five years, as 64.3 million Americans volunteered.

Miami Herald shares story about Minneapolis-based charity assisting Haiti

The Minneapolis-based charity Feed My Starving Children is getting closer to its goal of establishing a full-time packing center in Miami, and a recent effort to build support in the area was a success, according to a recent story in the Miami Herald.
At an event to pack meals for Haitian children, a group of nearly 500 Miami volunteers put together 25,000 rice meals in just two hours. One volunteer noted that it was a fulfilling experience, and said that it felt important to her to show her kids that "the world doesn't have opportunities like we have."
The article went on to add that the event was the first step in an effort to generate community support for the charity's efforts, and a group of volunteers was already planning another event in January. Feed My Starving Children has seven full-time sites in Minnesota, Chicago, and Arizona, and if all goes well, Miami will be its eighth.

Minneapolis-based foundation gives Yale School of Drama its largest donation ever

Minneapolis-based Robina Foundation has given the Yale School of Drama its largest donation ever, in the form of an $18 million gift.
According to an article in Yale Daily News, the funds will go toward supporting the Yale Center for New Theatre, which was established in 2008 with a grant from Robina. The Center will be renamed the Binger Center for New Theatre, after Robina Foundation founder James Binger, a passionate advocate of theater.
The Robina Foundation is a private grantmaking organization that "seeks to positively impact critical social issues by encouraging innovation...and transformative projects," according to the foundation's mission statement.

Minneapolis named a top city for charitable giving

Minneapolis is among the top cities in the nation when it comes to charitable giving and volunteering, according to Scarborough Research.
The firm measures numerous trends throughout the year, including shopping patterns and media behaviors, and ranks the results by city.
For its charitable giving study, it tracked donations and volunteer work from the past year.
Minneapolis was ranked second, after Salt Lake City, in both charitable giving and volunteerism. In a previous Scarborough study, done in 2008, Minneapolis was ranked third in the nation for charitable donations.

HCMC recognized for its unique hospital-based food pantry

A recent article in Kaiser Health News highlighted a distinctive program at the Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC), in which patients are given food as well as immunizations and prescriptions.
HCMC's pediatric clinic offers a food pantry, one of only a few in the nation that's hospital-based. The pantry, now in its third year of operation, grew out of project that focused on encouraging families to include more fruits and vegetables in their diets.
Kaiser's article also noted that the pantry is able to serve more families by delivering food rather than running the pantry out of a single space at the facility.

Twin Cities leads nation in volunteerism, notes USA Today

Reporting on a recent study of volunteerism, USA Today noted that Minneapolis and St. Paul had the highest rate of volunteering in the country in 2010 among large metro areas.

Just over 37 percent of people in the Twin Cities area did volunteer work at schools, community groups, religious organizations, and other non-profits, the newspaper notes. Utah was the top state for the percentage of volunteers, reporting a nearly 45 percent volunteer rate.
The statistics come from the annual Volunteering in America report, from Corporation for National and Community Service, a public-private federal partnership.
In the USA Today article, Kristin Schurrer, executive director at the volunteer organization Hands On Twin Cities, posited that the metro area owes its top ranking to Midwestern culture, where children learn the importance of giving back to the community.

Sustainable food magazine highlights how local association helps immigrant farmers

A local program that assists immigrant farmers has been spotlighted in Harvest Foodservice Journal, a publication that connects those interested in sustainable food systems with contacts in the foodservice industry.

The Minnesota Food Association (MFA) trains immigrant farmers in techniques that allow them to grow food that can be certified as organic, which opens up new markets and resources for them. That designation can also link them to important wholesale markets that might otherwise be inaccessible.

To build a bridge over cultural differences, the MFA works with translators and various ethnic groups to build educational sessions. The non-profit training program helps by offering low-cost land rental, affordable infrastructure like walk-in coolers, and assistance with taxes.

Firefighters wing it in cross-river charity battle

This hot item made news as far as LaCrosse  and Wahpeton, N.D., and it led to this classified on the website of the IAFF Local 21 firefighter's union:

"Wanted - One St. Paul Firefighter to go up against a Minneapolis Firefighter in a wing eating contest at the Buffalo Wild Wings on the U of M campus."

Yes, Minneapolis and St. Paul firefighters took up the cause of Minnesota FoodShare Month by staging a 6-minute fiery-wing-eating contest.
Kowalski's Markets pledged 10 pounds of food to The Salvation Army for every wing eaten, and an extra 100 pounds for the victorious department.

CRM: six of 100 'Best Corporate Citizen' companies from Minnesota

Corporate Responsibility Magazine (CRM) has released its 100 Best Corporate Citizens List for 2011.

Six of the 100 companies listed are from Minnesota, including number-three ranked General Mills, Inc.

The list is compiled using publicly available data in seven categories: climate change, employee relations, environment, financial, governance, human rights, and philanthropy.

The six Minnesota companies included are (ranking in parentheses):

General Mills, Inc (3)
Xcel Energy, Inc. (30)
3M Co. (32)
Hormel Foods Corp (40)
Mosaic Company (45)
Medtronic, Inc. (77)

The list includes a "yellow card" category for companies that appear on the list "despite some self-caused reputational damage," according to CRM--usually a "pending or completed administrative or official legal sanction."

Minnesota was represented in this arena as well; CRM notes a December 2010 suit filed against 3M by the State of Minnesota "for contaminating the state's waters."

Ameriprise raises $5.5 million for nonprofits

Ameriprise Financial, headquartered in Minneapolis, earned a mention by the Philanthropy Journal for its annual giving campaign, which raised $5.5 million to be distributed to nonprofit organizations throughout 2011, according to a press release.
Featured partners include Community Health Charities, Earth Share, Global Impact, United Way and Feeding America, for whom Ameriprise matched pledges from its franchise advisors to provide 1.5 million meals.
Employees were also free to choose eligible nonprofits as recipients; as a result, nearly 5,000 organizations will receive donations, according to the release.

U of M student group installing wind turbines for Nicaraguan village

The Minnesota Daily reports on a University of Minnesota student group that's erecting a pair of wind turbines for a small Nicaraguan village.

Alejandro De La Mora and Josh Durand, both engineering students, were inspired by a book about wind power to start the Innovative Engineers student group. The student group traveled to the village of La Hermita last year with turbine pieces and laid the tower's foundation. They plan to return this year to finish the installation.

The village currently gets electricity from car batteries that need to be recharged in a nearby town. The wind turbine will allow them to be charged without leaving the village.

The student group plans to continue working on other renewable energy projects that can have an impact.

"If you have the ability to change the world and you want to do it," De La Mora tells the Daily, "why not do it?"

One Percent Club looking to connect with younger, tech-savvy leaders

The One Percent Club, a group of wealthy Minnesotans who pledge one percent of their net worth to charity each year, is looking to connect with the next generation of philanthropic leaders.

The Star Tribune's Jean Hopfensperger reports that the club, which began in 1997, recently entered a partnership with Social Venture Partners and is seeking younger, more tech-savvy board members and partners.

"Minnesota has been a national leader in so many categories--the arts, education, health--in large part because of philanthropy," said Peter Heegard, a club member and retired Wells Fargo exec. "If we don't keep trying to expand philanthropy, that could change."

WellShare provides donkey-powered ambulances to rural Tanzania

Not all innovation involves high-tech solutions.

A Minneapolis nonprofit has developed a donkey ambulance that's helping to reduce deaths during childbirth in rural Tanzania.

The Downtown Journal reports that WellShare (formerly Minnesota International Health Volunteers) came up with the cart "as a sustainable and affordable solution to this crisis of emergency transport."

The cart is pulled by one or two donkeys and uses an animal-friendly design that places weight on the animals' back muscles instead of neck.

A woman dies during childbirth in rural Tanzania every 21 minutes, often because they give birth alone or with untrained attendants.
15 Philanthropy Articles | Page:
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