Philanthropy, Voluntarism, and Grantmaking

Women's Foundation of Minnesota

A Driving Force for Gender 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


President and CEO

Ms. Lee Roper-Batker

Vice President

Ms. Saanii Hernandez

Main Address

105 Fifth Avenue South Suite 300

Minneapolis, MN 55401 USA


Women, Girls, Equity, Equality, Gender, Minnesota, Social Change, Systems Change





Cause Area (NTEE Code)

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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Social Media


Programs + Results

What we aim to solve New!

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.

What does the data show?
1. In Minnesota, young women from the American Indian, African Immigrant, and Latina communities (ages 23-25) experience an earnings shortfall of $10,000 or more compared to white men of the same age.
2. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most female rape victims (est. 452,000 in Minnesota) experienced their first rape by age 25; 30% between 11 and 17 years old; 12% less than 10 years old.
2. Young women (ages 23-25) comprise less than 20% of the workforce in high-wage STEM occupations. Less than 1% of STEM workers represent the African American, African Immigrant, American Indian, Latina, and disabilities communities.

Our programs

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

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Pathways 2 Prosperity (P2P) Fund

GirlsBEST (girls Building Economic Success Together) Fund

MN Girls Are Not For Sale Fund

Innovation Fund

Young Women's Initiative of Minnesota

Where we workNew!

Our Results

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one. These quantitative program results are self-reported by the organization, illustrating their committment to transparency, learning, and interest in helping the whole sector learn and grow.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Total dollar amount of grants awarded

Population(s) served

No target populations selected

Context notes

Total amount of WFMN's community investments distributed in FY18 (April 1, 2017-March 31, 2018).

Total number of grants awarded

Population(s) served

No target populations selected

Context notes

Total amount of grants made in FY18 (April 1, 2017-March 31, 2018.

Charting Impact

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

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

How will they know if they are making progress?

What have and haven't they accomplished so far?

For 35 years, 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.

In November 2015, the Foundation's Board of Trustees approved a new, 10-year Strategic Plan (April 1, 2016 - March 31, 2026). We refined and focused our mission and vision, clarified our values – the three-chambered heart of the Women's Foundation: Hope, Generosity, and Inclusion – reaffirmed our guiding principles, and created the following four new strategic goals that will drive gender equity:

• Goal 1: Invest in organizations, leaders, and the movement to create conditions for women and girls to thrive.
• Goal 2: Focus grantmaking, research, and policy to create pathways to prosperity and security for low-income women and girls.
• Goal 3: Fortify Foundation's assets to maximize impact and scale.
• Goal 4: Galvanize resources to end sex trafficking in Minnesota.

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.

The Foundation contracts with an independent, third-party evaluator to analyze and report annually on its programmatic work, including grantmaking, research, and policy efforts, in order to demonstrate progress on mission to donors, stakeholders and partners. Evaluation is also used by the Foundation to measure progress and outcomes of our strategic goals and operating plan, determine impact of organizational priorities, and improve programmatic and organizational processes and procedures.

girlsBEST Impact:
Since launching girlsBEST in 2002, WFMN has funded 5 generations (cohorts) of grantee-partners through multi-year funding across the state; provided 359 planning and implementation grants totaling more than $3.7 million to 122 girl-led and girl-driven programs statewide; and impacted more than 40,000 young women across Minnesota.

After 16 years of girlsBEST Fund grantmaking, we know girlsBEST Fund model programming is effective. Take these 3 key findings from independent program evaluations in May 2016:
- Participants have a 93% high school graduation rate, compared to 50-83% in Minnesota overall, depending on ethnicity.
- Participants have a 90% post-secondary education enrollment, compared to 44-72% in Minnesota overall, depending on ethnicity.
- 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.

Pathways to Prosperity (P2P) Impact:
The Foundation launched Pathways to Prosperity (P2P) to create unrestricted pathways to prosperity through education, employment and wealth creation for low-income women, women of color, and women in Greater Minnesota.

- Approximately 75% of P2P Funds are targeted to programs serving women of color
- Approximately 30% of P2P Funds are targeted to programs in Greater Minnesota

Evaluation of WFMN's first two P2P cohorts show meaningful success:
• 100% of program participants received wrap-around supports including childcare, transportation assistance, grants or scholarships, debt forgiveness, or other comprehensive support.
• 84% of program participants were placed in a job with a living wage upon completion of their program.
• 63% of participants who completed training/credentialing program secured full-time employment.
• 68% of program participants increased income from employment, and their average hourly wage increased 45%, or $5.78: the average hourly rate of participants prior to the program was $12.77 and after the program it increased to $18.55.

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.

External Reviews


Women's Foundation of Minnesota

Fiscal year: Apr 01 - Mar 31

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  • Forms 990 for 2017, 2017 and 2016
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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Need more info?

FREE: Gain immediate access to the following:

  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2017, 2017 and 2016
A Pro report is also available for this organization for $125.
Click here to see what's included.

Board Leadership Practices

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


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?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?


Organizational Demographics

In order to support nonprofits and gain valuable insight for the sector, GuideStar worked with D5—a five-year initiative to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in philanthropy—in creating a questionnaire. This section is a voluntary questionnaire that empowers organizations to share information on the demographics of who works in and leads organizations. To protect the identity of individuals, we do not display sexual orientation or disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff. Any values displayed in this section are percentages of the total number of individuals in each category (e.g. 20% of all Board members for X organization are female).

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Race & Ethnicity

Sexual Orientation


This organization reports that it does not collect this information for Board Members.

Diversity Strategies

We track retention of staff, board, and volunteers across demographic categories
We track income levels of staff, senior staff, and board across demographic categories
We track the age of staff, senior staff, and board
We track the diversity of vendors (e.g., consultants, professional service firms)
We have a diversity committee in place
We have a diversity manager in place
We have a diversity plan
We use other methods to support diversity