McKnight to establish nonprofit focused on Twin Cities youth.

Published on December 8, 2010 | Written by

December 8, 2010 – New organization will manage and build upon McKnight’s ongoing support for direct service, out-of-school time programs and field building

Next year, The McKnight Foundation will establish a new nonprofit in support of Twin Cities out-of-school (OST) time programs. “High-quality, accessible youth programs are essential for strong communities,” said Kate Wolford, McKnight Foundation president. “We aim to expand upon learning and development opportunities that measurably benefit our young people, their families, and our communities. If our young people succeed, we all succeed.”

With ongoing funding from McKnight and others, the new organization will make grants and undertake activities to engage and support youth, improve policies statewide, and strengthen Minnesota’s OST field overall. The nonprofit, which has not yet been named, will establish operations and program strategies throughout 2011, and begin making grants in 2012.

Prior to that, McKnight will continue to directly manage its OST grantmaking as in recent years; the annual application deadline for 2011 is January 10.

“This decision comes after two years reviewing McKnight’s strategies and investments to support Minnesota’s children and families,” explained Wolford. “Having researched national models and gathered the input of many regional field leaders, our board and staff are confident this funding strategy will allow us to serve and empower youth more effectively.”

McKnight’s board has approved an initial $11 million commitment for 2011-2013. Funding will cover startup costs for the new nonprofit in 2011, as well as support for operations, youth engagement, and grantmaking in 2012 and 2013. McKnight’s OST grant support through the new nonprofit will be on par with the Foundation’s support level for the work in recent years.

Working with an advisory council of local field leaders, McKnight has recruited seven initial board members for the new nonprofit. Kit Hadley, Saint Paul Public Library director and former leader of Heading Home Minnesota and the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency, will serve as board chair. Hadley is joined on the board by Dale Blyth, associate dean for youth development at the University of Minnesota Extension; Irene Fernando, co-founder of Students Today Leaders Forever; and Tanya Bransford, district court judge in Hennepin County District Court. Representing McKnight on the startup board will be Erika L. Binger, McKnight board member; Kate Wolford, president; and Neal Cuthbert, vice president of program.

The group’s first order of business will be to post and hire a president in the first quarter of 2011. The board has retained KeyStone Search to assist in conducting the search. Those interested in learning more about the president position should contact Rebecca Driscoll at KeyStone Search via email at

As planned, the new nonprofit will act as an independent grantee of The McKnight Foundation. Apart from limited staff support from McKnight during the 2011 transition year, the new nonprofit’s board and president will set the plan and timeline for additional staffing, operations, and program strategies.

McKnight has helped create or strengthen several successful grantmaking intermediaries in Minnesota. Almost 25 years ago, McKnight established the six Minnesota Initiative Foundations to help channel McKnight’s resources as effectively as possible throughout Greater Minnesota. The Family Housing Fund and the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund were each created with McKnight support. And since 1981, Minnesota’s Regional Arts Councils have redistributed McKnight grant dollars to support arts and artists in each of their home regions.

“With family at the core, positive youth development depends on high-quality early learning, K 12 schooling, and out-of-school time opportunities,” said Kit Hadley, board chair of the new organization. “Bringing the power of an intermediary to this important goal will help us reach further and achieve great outcomes among all Twin Cities youth.”


The McKnight Foundation seeks to improve the quality of life for present and future generations through grantmaking, coalition-building, and encouragement of strategic policy reform. Founded in 1953 and independently endowed by William and Maude McKnight, the Minnesota-based Foundation had assets of approximately $1.8 billion and granted about $98 million in 2009.

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