Women's Foundation of Minnesota

A Driving Force for Gender and Racial Equity

Minneapolis, MN   |


The Women’s Foundation of Minnesota (WFMN) envisions a world of equal opportunity where women, girls, and all people hold the power to create and lead safe, prosperous lives. Through grantmaking, research, and public policy, WFMN drives innovative solutions to create a world of opportunity, safety, and leadership for all women and girls in Minnesota. Founded in 1983, it is the first and largest statewide women’s foundation in the country.

Ruling year info


President and CEO

Ms. Gloria Perez

Main address

105 Fifth Avenue South Suite 300

Minneapolis, MN 55401 USA

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Formerly known as

Minnesota Women's Fund

Minnesota Women's Foundation



NTEE code info

Community Foundations (T31)

Women's Rights (R24)

Economic Development (S30)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

WFMN and our partners share a common vision: A Minnesota where all people can create and lead safe, prosperous lives. And by almost every measure, Minnesotans are doing well. However, when the data are disaggregated, we do not have equity in outcomes for all. In Minnesota, data show that girls and women, particularly from communities of color and those who live in Greater Minnesota, experience economic, safety, health, and leadership disparities that prevent them from thriving. The Women’s Foundation of Minnesota conducts qualitative and quantitative research to better understand the lives of women and girls within communities, identify assets and barriers, and fund solutions.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

GirlsBEST (girls Building Economic Success Together) Fund

Launched in 2002, girlsBEST awards grants to girl-led programs that build the opportunity and future economic success of Minnesota’s girls, ages 12-18, particularly low-income girls, Native girls and girls of color, girls in Greater Minnesota, and additional girls experiencing disparities in academic and professional outcomes.

Grantee-partners increase girls’ awareness of systemic gender and racial inequities, grow their sense of being change agents, foster their development as leaders, and build their capacity for individual and collective activism in order to increase girls’ readiness to achieve economic well-being.

Since launching girlsBEST, the Foundation has funded five cohorts of grantee partners with multi-year funding across the state.

394 Planning and implementation grants provided
$4.5 Million Granted to 132 girl-led and girl-driven programs statewide.

girlsBEST has reached 44,000 young women across Minnesota.

Our girlsBEST grantees knock down roadblocks to girls’ future economic success, like low wages and job discrimination, sexist academic and career tracking by schools, poor body image and self-esteem, teen pregnancy, lack of leadership and athletic opportunities, and violence against girls. girlsBEST has shown time and again that when girls define their priorities and create change in their own lives, they expect more from themselves now, and later, as adults.

Population(s) Served

YWI MN is anchored in WFMN's values, principles, and vision to create a Minnesota where every girl can thrive.

Minnesota’s young women need targeted, positive investments in solutions that they and their communities define. They also need the partnership of leaders in philanthropy, nonprofits, business, and government – at the local, state, national levels – to move these solutions forward.

To advance opportunity, safety, respect, and leadership for girls across Minnesota. WFMN reflected with leaders across the state and employed lessons learned through our girlsBEST programming, our MN Girls Are Not For Sale campaign, and a series of listening sessions with young women to launch a bold campaign to create safe, prosperous lives for – and with – young women: the Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota (YWI MN).

YWI MN is an intersectional, cross-sector partnership between WFMN and the Governor’s Office of the State of Minnesota; the first of its kind in the nation. Launched in October 2016, the Initiative will work upstream to fix broken systems to ensure that young women (ages of 12-24) with the greatest disparities in outcomes – young women of color (African American, African Immigrant, Asian American and Pacific Islander, and Latina), American Indian young women, young women in Greater Minnesota, LGBTQ youth, and young women with disabilities – have access to equal opportunity and resources to meet present needs and create pathways to future well-being and prosperity.

YWI MN is driven by a powerful cross-sector of nonprofits, businesses, government, philanthropies, and young women. The first phase of the program (October 2016 – April 2017) engaged three core committees: Community-Specific Working Groups (eight), Young Women’s Cabinet (25 young women), and Young Women’s Initiative Council (70 cross-sector leaders). Through community action research, the committees worked together to develop and deliver a statewide action plan of recommendations to create opportunity and equity in outcomes for young women in Minnesota. The Blueprint for Action, delivered in November 2017, includes 20 recommendations covering the following six action areas:
• Financial Prosperity and Stability
• Safety and Violence Prevention
• Education and Life-long Learning
• Cultural and Self-Identity
• Health and Wellness
• Family and Caregiving

YWI MN has now moved into Phase 2 – Implementation (Nov. 2017-2023). Young women will continue to serve as key advisors and drivers throughout the Initiative. The Young Women’s Cabinet, comprised of 25 young women from eight communities, and the Young Women’s Initiative Council, comprised of 70 cross-sector leaders, will implement the Blueprint for Action.

Through YWI MN, WFMN will invest $9 million over seven years in research, grantmaking, policy, strategic communications, and evaluation to increase equity in opportunities and outcomes for Minnesotans with the greatest disparities. WFMN’s belief that problems and solutions are found in the same place grounds YWI MN in community, young women-led solutions, and partnership with cross-sector leadership across the state.

Population(s) Served
Women and girls

The Women’s Foundation of Minnesota’s Fund for Safety resources innovation to end gender-based violence, a continuum that includes including sex trafficking, domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment. The Fund for Safety continues and expands upon the investments made through the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota’s MN Girls Are Not for Sale campaign.

In partnership with community leaders, WFMN follows an ethos of listening and responding to community concerns to drive strategic, cross-sector plans and create collective impact. As WFMN has transformed our role from a catalytic leader with MN Girls Are Not For Sale to supporting partner, we continue to expand our strategic focus on safety and work with communities to end gender-based violence. WFMN will invest in the organizations, leaders, and the movement to create a Minnesota where girls and women are free from every form of violence and can experience their homes, schools, and communities as safe places.

Population(s) Served

Community Response grants respond to vital needs of communities around Minnesota, including policies that violate immigrants’ human rights and threaten women’s reproductive rights; they also provide general operating funding to organizations that drive gender equity in Minnesota. This fund was previously known as the Innovation fund.

Because gender inequity looks different in every community, we use our Intersectional Equity Framework™ to look at how gender, race, place (geography), and additional identities (ethnicity, sovereignty, socioeconomic class, age, disability, LGBTQ+, immigration status) intersect in order to target the most innovative solutions to build greater gender equity.

Priority is given to organizations that ensure women’s safe and healthy lives.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, WFMN leveraged its responsive grantmaking infrastructure to launch the COVID-19 Women and Girls Response Fund to award a half-million dollars in emergency grants of up to $10,000 to organizations serving women and girls experiencing gender-based violence, older women, policy and advocacy, and women and girls who need short-term financial support for childcare, eldercare, food, housing, transportation, health, wellness, and safety from violence.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Total dollar amount of grants awarded

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Context Notes

Total amount of WFMN's community investments distributed in FY20 (April 1, 2020-March 31, 2021).

Total number of grants awarded

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Context Notes

Total amount of grants made in FY20 (April 1, 2020-March 31, 2021.)

Number of press releases developed and distributed

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

For 40 years, the Women's Foundation of Minnesota (WFMN) has led with an intersectional framework to increase gender and racial equity in our state. Through annual statewide grantmaking, an internship and fellowship program, research, policy, strategic communications, and cross-sector partnerships, we aim to create a world of equal opportunity where women, girls, and all people hold the power to create and lead safe, prosperous lives.

Guided by the people most impacted by gender and racial injustice, WFM will build, share, and use our power in partnership with leaders, organizations, and movements. We will catalyze transformative pathways and opportunities that meet the urgent and long-term needs of women, girls, and gender-expansive people.

BUILD: Build community power and invest in leadership, field-building, and movements that center women, girls and gender-expansive people at the intersection of identities most impacted by systemic injustice.
TRANSFORM: Advance cross-sector learning, practice, and engagement on intersections of gender and racial justice.
INSPIRE: Inspire transformational philanthropic investment through a comprehensive campaign for systems change,
gender and racial justice and sustained impact for future generations.
GROW: Grow WFMNs capacity for anti-racist philanthropic practices and sustain a culture of wellness and learning.

A state of gender and racial equity requires a deep awakening of how our personal behavior either reinforces or changes the structural systemic inequities that women, people of color, American Indians, LGBTQ+, people with disabilities, and Greater Minnesota communities face each day. We need not only intervention and prevention, but cultural transformation.

A transformation from a culture where a wage gap and job segregation by gender and race exists, to one of equal opportunity, wages, and wealth; a culture where women and girls experience harassment and violence as a norm, to one where every girl and women experiences the world as a place of safety; and from a culture where women and girls are denied equality in leadership, to one where women lead equally in families, communities, corporations, and government.

We believe in the fierce urgency of now to achieve equity in Minnesota and in the U.S.

Our work begins with and is grounded in research, and we engage communities for input and wisdom. We hold listening sessions and focus groups across the state to hear directly from communities about the challenges they face and the ideas and work they have to solve problems. We honor our value of inclusion by ensuring all voices are represented.

We link quantitative, qualitative, and public polling research to grantmaking, public policy, and strategic communications to shift attitudes and behaviors, and institutions and policies that serve as barriers to gender and racial equity.

We know that no one sector can solve pressing community issues alone. We bring credibility, statewide reach, and a proven track-record to gather key stakeholders and craft coordinated responses to pressing community needs. The statewide movement to end sex trafficking in Minnesota is a tremendous example of WFMN's ability to catalyze the power of a collective-impact/cross-sector approach.

We create solutions with marginalized communities. WFMN invests in individuals, organizations, and the movement to achieve gender and racial equity. We test new ideas, and reflect and shift as strategies are implemented. With Minnesota's future success on the line, innovative, community-specific responses are required.

We also inform and inspire the field through a rigorous application of our Intersectional Lens Framework™, which overlays gender, race, place, class, age, ability, LGBTQ+ identity, and immigration status to the problems we identify and the solutions we create. We share our Framework in the field to ensure intersectionality and equity in outcomes.

We believe that the well-being of Minnesota's residents and economy is tied directly to the well-being of women and girls. Through our targeted statewide investments, qualitative and quantitative research, and intersectional approach, we aim to transform how corporations, philanthropy, and government works with and resources community.

The Women's Foundation of Minnesota has the credibility, reputation, and track record of success to build effective cross-sector partnerships and galvanize resources to drive gender equity. As a community foundation with statewide reach, we are uniquely positioned to make targeted, strategic investments in regions and communities across Minnesota that are key to building pathways to economic security for the women and girls in our state who need it most.

The Foundation has embedded long-term funding strategies in key areas which ensure the sustainability of our mission: organizational endowment, individual donors, and support from foundations and corporations.

The Foundation engages in collaborative funding and partnerships within Minnesota's foundation community dedicated to social change grantmaking. Our work has been highlighted multiple times with Minnesota Council on Foundations' programs. We are a member of several funder collaboratives, including the Start Early Funders Coalition for Children and Minnesota's Future, MinneMinds, Northside Funders Group, Somali Funders Coalition, and the Workforce Development Funders Collaborative, offering a gendered perspective at those tables.

The Foundation's girlsBEST Fund has informed and influenced our national leadership in Prosperity Together, a coalition of 29 women's foundations investing in women and girls' economic opportunity. On November 13, 2015, the Women's Foundation of Minnesota, with Prosperity Together, announced a funding commitment of $100 million over the next five years by women's foundations to promote greater economic security among low-income girls, women, and their families. The announcement was made in Washington, D.C. at the White House's Advancing Equity for Women and Girls of Color Summit. As of November 2016, Prosperity Together met and exceeded their Year One goals. To meet the goal of $100 million over five years, the expected giving amount for Year One was $20 million; the actual number was $29,170,427, which exceeded expectations by 46 percent.

Additionally, the Foundation is one of six partners nationally in the Partnership for Women's Prosperity (PWP), an effort to further girls' and women's economic opportunity. Through this partnership, we've gained an understanding of the work of other women's foundation's economic security funding strategies and impact measures. We've also had the opportunity to share our girlsBEST model with other partners, which has led to the implementation of similar girlsBEST models. For example, the Washington Area Women's Foundation now has a fully operating fund to support middle school girls and their economic well-being.

YWI MN is also a participating member of a national collaborative of eight public women's foundations working together on key strategies to drive opportunity and equity in outcomes for young women in their respective regions and states.

girlsBEST Impact:
Since launching girlsBEST in 2002, WFMN has funded 5 generations (cohorts) of grantee-partners through multi-year funding across the state; provided 394 planning and implementation grants totaling more than $4.5 million to 132 girl-led and girl-driven programs statewide; and impacted more than 44,000 young women across Minnesota.

After 20 years of girlsBEST Fund grantmaking, we know girlsBEST Fund model programming is effective. Take these 3 key findings from independent program evaluations in May 2018:
-High School Graduation: girlsBEST participants have a 93% high school graduation rate, compared to 50-83% in Minnesota overall, depending on ethnicity.
-Post-Secondary Enrollment: girlsBEST participants have a 90% post-secondary education enrollment, compared to 44-72% in Minnesota overall, depending on ethnicity.
-Teen Pregnancy: girlsBEST participants have a teen pregnancy rate of less than 1 per 1,000 in Minnesota overall, compared to 18-48 per 1,000 in Minnesota overall, depending on ethnicity.

MN Girls Are Not For Sale Impact:
The success of the first 7 years of the MN Girls campaign and critical impact it has had on the work to end sex trafficking is undeniable.

-Safe Harbor law passed.
-We've gone from zero state funding in 2011 to a state-funded infrastructure of $13.1 million as of May 2017. Minnesota is first in the nation to provide state funding for sex trafficking victims.
-We increased housing and trauma-informed care for victims, from two beds in 2011 to 48 beds as of May 2017.
-We increased the age of Safe Harbor eligibility for housing and services from 18 to 24.
-An investment of $73,000 and a legislative mandate to complete strategic planning for Safe Harbor For All was passed in May 2017, which will develop Minnesota's new response for adult victims of sex trafficking.
-Convictions of sex trafficking perpetrators have nearly tripled through increased law enforcement investigations and prosecutions.

Reatha Clark King Fellowship & Wenda Weekes Moore Internship Impact:
Philanthropy, nonprofits, and communities benefit when women of color are represented in leadership. Recognizing the need for more women of color in philanthropy and nonprofit leadership and development, WFMN launched its Fellowship and Internship Program in 2002. The Dr. Reatha Clark King Fellowship and the Wenda Weekes Moore Internship Program are our innovative initiatives to build a pipeline of women of color leaders in philanthropy.

-Through the program to date, WFMN has engaged 38 women of color and American Indian women in all aspects of its operations, including evaluation, fundraising, grantmaking, and administration.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don't have any major challenges to collecting feedback


Women's Foundation of Minnesota

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


Connect with nonprofit leaders


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Women's Foundation of Minnesota

Board of directors
as of 01/12/2024
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Nevada Littlewolf

Executive Director, Our Children MN

Board co-chair

Chanda Smith Baker

Senior Vice President of Impact, the Minneapolis Foundation

Wendy Nelson

Chairwoman, Carlson Family Foundation

Rebecca Klevan

Wealth Manager, Accredited Investors, Inc.

Elena Brito Sifferlin

Licensed Social Worker and Community Volunteer

George Martin

Partner, Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP

Valerie Spencer

Community Volunteer

Julia Classen

Retired Nonprofit Organizational and Governance Consultant

Chanda Smith Baker

Senior Vice President of Impact, The Minneapolis Foundation

Jennifer Alstad

Founder and CEO, bswing

Debarati Sen

Vice President & General Manager, 3M Abrasives

Sandy Vargas

Senior Executive Leadership Fellow, University of Minnesota, Humphrey School of Public Affairs

Vanessa Goodthunder

Director, C̣aƞṡayapi Waḳaƞyeża Owayawa Oṭi

Adair Mosley

President & CEO, Pillsbury United Communities

Anita Patel

Vice President of Grantmaking, Bush Foundation

Brenda Quaye

Owner & Founder, Venstar, LLC

Fatima Said

Executive Director, Project FINE

Susan Segal

Judge, MN Court of Appeals

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 1/12/2024

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Decline to state
Disability status
Decline to state

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

No data


No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 01/19/2022

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.