Diversity in Innovation: An Introduction to the President's Fund

The President’s Fund is a fund set aside for discretionary grants that the President believes will advance the mission of Youthprise. Consider it the Youthprise equivalent to the 20% Project used by tech corporations to encouraged employees to spend 20% of their paid time working on innovative personal projects that may benefit the organization or society. This dedicated time for innovation has resulted in the creation of the world’s most popular email service in addition to a lot of failing forward. 

Similarly, the President’s Fund has resulted in some major successes in addition to projects that have yet to see results.  One of the Fund’s goals is to invest in the brave ideas of young people, with an eye towards long-term pay-off. 

But unlike a tech enterprise, The President’s Fund is focused on the enterprise of youth. The fund would be well-spent as long as it goes to organizations that serve indigenous, low-income, and racially diverse youth and the issues that affect their lives. President’s Fund often supports direct investments in young people, not just in organizations.

Coalition of Asian American Leaders

The Coalition of Asian American Leaders (CAAL) envisions a state where all Minnesotans, regardless of background, are actively engaged in shaping solutions and can achieve prosperity. CAAL was created to be a network that equips and uplifts leaders, develops and takes action on shared agendas, and builds across communities towards equity, justice, and prosperity.

One of out favorite initiatives of theirs is #MinneAsianStories, a storytelling campaign dedicated to sharing the rich and diverse experiences that make up the Asian Minnesotan community and providing a platform for Minnesotans to connect and learn together through stories.

The Minnesota Youth Association

The Minnesota Youth Association (MYA) is a youth organization focused on bringing youth together through education, sports, and friendship. They offer educational summer basketball camps, multi-city basketball tournaments, and team rankings and stats on their website. In addition to facing teams in cities as far as Ohio, Chicago, and Seattle; they also occasionally do creative and community events, inviting over professional NBA players to lead their training camp or hosting spoken word performances.

MYA was chosen for the President's Fund because it is a relatively new POC-led organization with fewer funders to support its great idea. Basketball really is the perfect hobby for youth who want to bond with team members while exercising and pushing themselves to succeed.

We'll be cheering regardless of whether the Top Dawgs, the Deen Bros, or the Revivers win the finals!


Voices for Racial Justice

Voices for Racial Justice (VRJ) is an organization that uses organizing, leadership training, community policy, and research to build power for racial justice across Minnesota. The work they do is multi-fold with racial justice at its core.

Their BRIDGE program is a grassroots partnership that centers formerly incarcerated people and their families and works with them to push for change in the system of mass incarceration.

They also offer Racial Equity Impact Assessments for legislators and policy-makers to consult when writing and introducing bills and policy. The Racial Equity Impact Assessment makes it clear how a certain bill or policy is helping or hurting, racial equity in Minnesota.

Photos are from the VRJ's 25th Anniversary Celebration at The Cedar Cultural Center featuring Brother Ali, Chastity Brown, The Lioness, I Self Devine, and more.

VRJ at The Cedar photo 1
VRJ at The Cedar photo 2

The Education for Liberation Network

The Education for Liberation Network (ELN) is a national coalition of teachers, community activists; researchers, youth, and parents dedicated to promoting a liberatory approach to education that allows learners to understand and challenge the injustices their communities face. Their network provides a space for members to share knowledge and work together to create tools for liberatory education. ELN particularly focuses on low-income youth and youth of color in their goal to nurture communities of thoughtful, socially-engaged people and to maximize the impact of their work.

Their Free Minds, Free People conference brings together teachers, young people, researchers, parents, and community-based activists and educators from across the country to develop and promote education as a tool for liberation. The 2019 conference was in the Twin Cities!

The Yes Fund

The Yes Fund is a fund that supports youth entrepreneurship by meeting youth where they are and providing individualized support, whether that means mentorship, referrals, cash influxes, tech assistance, business assessments, or support incorporating as a nonprofit.

The fund was designed for individual investments into young people to develop themselves in different ways. Past investments have included young people who are, entrepreneurs from specific cultural communities, and young artists that are in the development stages of their careers. The fund has previously been granted to Sssdude-Nutz, the community-focused donut shop that was profiled in the 2017 Annual Report.

By investing into youth entrepreneurship, we aim to build stronger communities and encourage young people to follow their passions.

Other Projects

The President's Fund includes many organizations and individuals, including w/ERK Chartered, Youth Frontiers, and Metro Youth Diversion Center.

Not to mention how programs like the Change Fellows Program and the [other example here], were important historical contributions to the evolution of the fund.

In the future, we hope there will be even inspiring project to learn from and support!