FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thrivent Charitable Funds up to $1 Million to Address Disparities in Educational Access through Innovative Minnesota Afterschool Advance Initiative
(MINNEAPOLIS May 18, 2021) – Thrivent Charitable Impact & Investing (Thrivent Charitable) announced today a grant of up to $1 million to Venn Foundation and Youthprise to accelerate the growth of their joint Minnesota Afterschool Advance (MAA) initiative over the next year. This approach to charitable giving offers an innovative way to recycle charitable dollars and is being led by local leaders who have experienced first-hand the positive impact of investing early in children’s access to quality educational and enrichment opportunities, and how that investment can positively change the trajectory for generations to come.
Each year, school-aged children spend the equivalent of a full-time job in discretionary “afterschool time” which includes school breaks and summer vacation. Research has proven that children who participate in quality out-of-school time (OST) programs develop strong social skills, are excited about learning, improve work habits and grades, improve school attendance, graduate at higher rates, and gain workforce skills. However, research has also shown that during that discretionary time, low-income students lose significant ground compared to their more affluent peers, with nearly half of parents living in communities of concentrated poverty reporting that the cost of programs was a very important fact in deciding whether or not to enroll their child in a program.
Minnesota’s K-12 Education Tax Credit covers up to $1000 for low-income families to access educational, arts, and extracurricular OST programs, including much-needed educational tools, such as computers or books. However, only 34% of eligible families access the tax credit because it requires families to cover the costs up front. With a $33,500 annual income limit to be eligible for the maximum tax credit, many families simply do not have the means to pay those up-front costs, which means that the tax credit is effectively unavailable to those who need it most. Moreover, families can often wait sometimes more than a year to receive the tax credit reimbursement, which further disincentivizes its use.
To address these problems, MAA advances eligible families the money on a no-interest, no-fee basis, to support their children’s involvement in OST programs and equipment. MAA is then reimbursed with the tax credit money when families file their taxes. Those funds are then put back into the available pool of advances available to more families, multiplying the impact over time. Thrivent Charitable’s anchor funding will allow MAA to make thousands of charitable loans and invest in more equitable and foundational educational opportunities for all children. Once scaled, this program has the potential to make available $275 million to help low-income families afford critically important OST activities.
"Every child deserves quality education and enrichment. Opportunity and access, small or large, can change lives. I know this from my own life growing up in the Frogtown neighborhood of St. Paul and seeing and experiencing what happens with and without it. One opportunity can change a life, and one life can change the world,“ said Mandy Tuong, President & CEO of Thrivent Charitable. “This is our shared future; it is absolutely worth investing in.”
“This is fresh and pragmatic approach to philanthropy. By using a powerful but underutilized tool called Program-Related Investments to offer no-interest charitable loans to families, we are filling financial needs that traditional lenders will not,” said Jeff Ochs, CEO of Venn Foundation. “We also can use each donated dollar over and over again, year after year, offering philanthropists an amazing impact return on investment when compared to a standard one-time scholarship approach.”
With so many students struggling because of distance learning, MAA has seen demand skyrocket and has been working hard to respond to the evolving needs of students. From 2019 to 2020, student applications to MAA grew 2600% while the program served families residing in 213 cities across the state. Last year, MAA supported the shift from in-person to distance learning by shipping Chromebooks to 1,321 students and paying for nearly 7,000 hours of digital tutoring and other services. While the focus early in the pandemic was getting devices into the hands of students, MAA has recently been scaling up academic enrichment offerings with the help of a network of service providers throughout Minnesota.
“Many families want to provide academic enrichment opportunities for their children, but simply cannot afford them. MAA offers a learning and social development lifeline for these families,” says Marcus Pope, Vice President of Youthprise. “The power of this partnership with the Venn Foundation is our innovative social investment strategy. We are braiding public and private resources and recycling funds to help families who otherwise would not be able to access these opportunities.”
Youthprise’s mission is to increase equity with and for Minnesota’s indigenous, low-income and racially diverse youth. We envision a Minnesota where outcomes are no longer predictable by race, geography, or socioeconomic status. Youthprise innovates systems, structures, and practices that enable youth to thrive by mobilizing and investing resources; advancing knowledge, and advocating for change. For more information visit, youthprise.org
About Venn Foundation
Venn Foundation is a nonprofit public charity on a mission to unleash the full power of Program-Related Investments (PRIs) to achieve charitable impact. Our vision is to create a new category of flexible, below-market-rate investment capital that can be directed creatively to projects and organizations across all sectors that are helping advance charitable goals. By opening a specialized donor-advised fund called a Venn Account, any individual or entity (including any business, private foundation, donor-advised fund, or public charity) can make and syndicate PRIs with their charitable donations. Any financial returns from these investments go back to participating Venn Accounts for donors to recommend redeployment into new PRIs or grants. www.vennfoundation.org.
About Thrivent Charitable Impact & Investing™
We believe humanity thrives when people make the most of all they’ve been given. Thrivent Charitable Impact & Investing helps people do just that—bring their generosity to life so that they can support the organizations and causes closest to their hearts, now and into the future. Grounded in our purpose to serve, we take a holistic, personalized approach to help our donors create strategic charitable plans and give in a way that best reflects their values and financial priorities. Together, we are committed to creating positive impact and inspiring lasting change in our communities.