2019 Nonprofit Mission Awards Recipients Announced

September 25, 2019

The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits (MCN) has selected four Minnesota nonprofits thatNonprofit Mission Awards have made outstanding contributions to our state’s high quality of life as recipients of 2019 Nonprofit Mission Awards. Presented each year since 1987, the Nonprofit Mission Awards recognize and honor the contributions of Minnesota nonprofits in the areas of Innovation, Advocacy, Anti-Racism, and Responsive Philanthropy. Organizations honored this year are MicroGrants’ “Lights On!” program (Minneapolis), Casa de Esperanza (St. Paul), Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation (Minneapolis), and Diversity Council (Rochester).

MCN will present this year’s honorees with their awards before more than 600 nonprofit professionals on Friday, October 25 as part of MCN’s 2019 Annual Conference at the Mayo Civic Centre in Rochester, MN. Honorees will also receive professionally produced videos featuring their organizations, unique artwork from Vandalia Glassworks, and cash awards.

2019 Nonprofit Mission Award Recipients

Innovation: Launched by Minneapolis-based nonprofit MicroGrants, Lights On! is a creative program that transforms routine traffic stops from negative interactions into positive community building opportunities. Following Philando Castile’s tragic death, after being stopped for a burned out light, the MicroGrants board labored over how they could prevent a similar event from occurring. With Lights On!, instead of issuing citations, police officers can hand drivers a voucher good for free repairs of their broken headlight, tail light, turn signal, or brake light by participating local businesses. To date, Lights On! has repaired over 600 car lights and involves 35 Twin Cities metro communities, with Rochester and St. Cloud joining in 2019. Learn more at

Advocacy: From its humble beginning as an emergency shelter created by five courageous Latina activists in 1982, Casa de Esperanza has grown into the largest and most respected Latina-led domestic violence organization in the country. The organization’s Family Advocacy approach is unique and offers an unduplicated spectrum of direct services and support each year for approximately 370 Latin@s and their families who are living in domestic violence in the Twin Cities metro area and are at risk of experiencing homelessness. Learn more about Casa de Esperanza at

Anti-Racism Initiative: Founded in 1989 (then known as Building Equity Together), the Diversity Council is a Rochester-area nonprofit dedicated to transforming organizations, empowering adults and youth to act as change makers, equipping and mobilizing non-traditional leaders, and galvanizing equity work in the region. The Diversity Council’s Equity Initiatives—which include Allies & Advocates, Bystander to Upstander, StandUp Students, and the Human Library of Southeastern Minnesota—focus on increasing engagement and education around issues of equity and inclusion and building more interconnected communities in Rochester and the surrounding region. Learn more at

Responsive Philanthropy: Established in 1986, the mission of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation is to make a healthy difference in communities by advancing health equity and improving conditions where people live, learn, work, and play. In response to political and social events impacting under-served communities—particularly immigrants, refugees and Muslims—in recent years, the Foundation rolled out a new grants program: Responsive Grants in Uncertain Times. With an application process three times faster than the typical grant process, the goal of the $300,000 fund was simply make grants available as efficiently as possible to enable organizations to plan and take action to engage and protect their communities. Learn more at

See a list of past Mission Award recipients.