Six Minnesota Nonprofits Recognized for Missions and Excellence

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                    
Contact: Julie Dappen, MAP for Nonprofits
Phone: 651-632-7232, 651-329-6988 (cell)
Contact: Michaela Charleston, Minnesota Council of Nonprofits
Phone: 651-757-3067
Six Minnesota Nonprofits Recognized for Missions and Excellence
St. Paul, Minn. (October 3, 2012) – Nonprofit organizations often do their work without much fanfare, but once a year, six organizations are selected and feted for their excellence, innovation, advocacy, anti-racism and responsive philanthropy.
2012 Nonprofit Award Recipients
  • Graywolf Press for Excellence in a Large Organization
  • Project FINE (Focus on Integrating Newcomers through Education) for Excellence in a Small Organization
  • Avenues for Homeless Youth for Innovation
  • Youth Performance Company for Anti-Racism Initiative
  • OutFront Minnesota for Advocacy
  • Women’s Foundation of Minnesota for Responsive Philanthropy
Sponsored by the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits (MCN) and MAP for Nonprofits, excellence and mission awards will be presented to the winning organizations on November 2 during the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and the Minnesota Council on Foundations Joint Annual Conference at the Saint Paul RiverCentre.
More about the Award Recipients
Excellence Award:  Graywolf Press
Graywolf Press publishes poetry, fiction and literary nonfiction that is not well served by mainstream publishers and brings that work to the widest possible audience. This organization has demonstrated strong alignment with MCN’s Principles and Practices for Nonprofit Excellence, a comprehensive guide based on the values of quality, responsibility and accountability. Excellence Award judges were impressed with numerous Graywolf Press  achievements, including operating in the black financially for 18 years, staying on the cutting edge in a rapidly-changing industry, taking creative risks, publishing outstanding authors who later were recognized as Nobel Laureates (two), a Pulitzer Prize winner, and three National Book Critics Circle Award recipients. Graywolf’s 20 board members fully embrace the mission, volunteer hundreds of hours each year and make significant financial contributions.  Graywolf has a disciplined planning process that includes the viewpoints of artists, audiences and the broader community and a track record of successful collaborations.
Excellence Award:  Project FINE (Focus on Integrating Newcomers through Education)
Project FINE works to strengthen and enrich the Winona, MN area by facilitating the integration of people who are ethnically diverse into the community. This small nonprofit serves more than 2,500 newcomers in Winona County, most of whom are Hispanic/Latino or Hmong. The organization, with the support of partners, offers language and acculturation services to immigrant and refugee populations, and educational programs which inform the community about the distinctive gifts brought by people from different cultures.  Excellence Award judges appreciated the board’s commitment to MCN’s Principles and Practices for Nonprofit Excellence and the Charities Review Council’s accountability standards, how each program offered by Project FINE is conducted in collaboration with at least one community partner in order to avoid duplication, the organization’s diverse and active board of directors and Project FINE’s strong organizational and committee structure which ensures important obligations and best practices are addressed regularly.
Innovation Award: Avenues for Homeless Youth
Avenues for Homeless Youth has helped more than 2,500 homeless youth ages 16 to 21 through its emergency shelter, short-term housing and supportive services.In 2011, Avenues helped to launch the Suburban Host Home Program to house and support homeless youth from the Hennepin County suburbs in homes within those suburbs. In the nine months since its inception, the Suburban Host Home Program has recruited, screened and trained 15 host homes that are already accepting and housing youth. A key feature of the program is that the host-youth matching process is driven by the youth. The Suburban Host Home Program has a substantially lower per-bed cost than traditional housing programs.  Program partners include community volunteers and suburban partner agencies. The primary suburban youth-serving agencies that refer youth, provide case management support and help guide the program are Oasis for Youth, Teens Alone and YMCA Youth Intervention Services.
Anti-Racism Initiative Award: Youth Performance Company
Youth Performance Company (YPC) is an Ivey-Award-honored youth theater that develops young actors, singers and dancers to reach their artistic potential and become community leaders. YPC provides affordable and meaningful arts experiences for families, children and teens in the Twin Cities through productions, classes, in-school residencies and leadership development. In 2011, YPC commissioned “MEAN,” an original musical that tells the stories of three young people dramatically impacted by bullying directed at them based upon their physical appearance, ethnicity or sexuality. In addition to an overwhelming response from school leaders and audiences, the show launched a community conversation about bullying through many media outlets, including the St. Paul Pioneer Press, WCCO, TPT, Southwest Journal, Lavender, Women’s Press and Minnesota Parent. YPC’s collaborations with PACER Center and World without Genocide, among others, have helped the organization speak out against injustice and offer audiences powerful drama that encourages them to become catalysts for change in their own communities.
Advocacy Award: OutFront Minnesota
OutFront Minnesota won the Advocacy Award as a result of two advocacy efforts that have changed local communities. When the Minnesota Legislature approved a bill to place an amendment banning same-sex marriage on the Minnesota ballot, OutFront and Project 515 launched Minnesotans United for All Families—dedicated to the defeat of the amendment. Minnesotans United for All Families brought together a large and diverse group of supporters to ensure Minnesota voters were informed of the anti-amendment rationale before going to the polls. In other advocacy work, OutFront has partnered with the Safe Schools for All Coalition, a group of 73 organizations and individuals, to support legislation that will strengthen Minnesota bullying and harassment laws. The advocacy has resulted in a new State Task Force on the Prevention of School Bullying, an increased percentage of Minnesota school districts with comprehensive bullying policies; an inclusive, enumerated anti-bullying policy at the Anoka-Hennepin school district; and a partnership with The Justice League, a youth group from Blake High School, to support the “Stand UP, Speak OUT” event.
Responsive Philanthropy Award: Women’s Foundation of Minnesota
The Women’s Foundation of Minnesota works to achieve economic, political and social equality for all Minnesota women and girls. Since its start, the Foundation has invested more than $14 million in grants with more than 1,200 nonprofits. The Foundation funds innovative social change programs, builds women’ philanthropy, conducts research, and advocates for public policies to improve the lives of women and families. The Women’s Foundation has played a specific role related to the growing prevalence of sex trafficking of girls in Minnesota. Working closely across sectors, the Foundation established a collaborative partnership across the state to create and enact a strategic plan and actions with a clear message that Minnesota girls are not for sale. The Foundation also launched a five-year, $5 million campaign -- MN Girls Are Not for Sale; and has awarded $366,500 in grants as a part of the campaign. The Foundation also helped pass the Minnesota Safe Harbor Law in July 2010, which decriminalizes girls under 16 who’ve been prostituted. 

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