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Connecting the Dots

Policy and Funding Solutions to Support Thriving Minnesota Communities
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Four Challenges Facing Our State

Connecting the Dots takes a deeper look at four challenges facing our state — underinvestment in organizations led by and serving Communities of Color, nonprofit sector workforce shortages, the benefits cliff and its impacts on working families, and increasing rates of homelessness — and provides concrete policy and funding recommendations to foster systems change and support a state where all people thrive, regardless of their income level, race or place of residence.
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Only 9 percent of nonprofit leaders in Minnesota identify as People of Color, despite representing 21 percent of the state population.

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Nonprofit Sector Workforce Shortages

Nonprofit organizations have consistently employed 14 percent of Minnesota’s workforce, with recent reductions in the numbers of employees starting in mid-2020.

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The Benefits Cliff and Its Impacts on Working Families

99 percent of surveyed families had lost a critical benefit due to a small increase in income.
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Increasing Rates of Homelessness

More than 554,000 Minnesota households spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing, and on any given night, nearly 20,000 Minnesotans experience homelessness, with Indigenous and LGBTQIA+ youth the most affected.
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Download Full Connecting the Dots Report →

"We are deeply grateful for how Greater Twin Cities United Way has embraced racial justice and equity within the community, as it is a strong priority for our organization.”

– United Way Funded Nonprofit Partner, 2021

Invest in Communities and Leaders of Color

At United Way, we have been working to elevate Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander and People of Color by increasing available attention, money and resources for organizations led by and serving these populations. We do this through:

Flexible Grantmaking

request for proposals process, with a racial equity-centered rubric for our Community Investments multiyear grants.

Prioritized Programming

designed and informed by people who are members of the communities who would be participating.

Targeted Allocation

resources to address specific assets and needs within Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander and/or People of Color-led and serving organizations providing culturally specific programming for participants.
Download Full Connecting the Dots Report →

"Wages paid for this difficult work make it hard to attract and retain staff. We continue to operate with staff shortages even as demand for our services has grown…Individuals are perpetually underserved, and staff are perpetually overworked. Funding incentives that help attract and retain qualified staff are a direct investment in the quality of care we can deliver to our clients."

– United Way Funded Nonprofit Partner, 2021

Stabilize the Nonprofit Workforce

We strive to create spaces that leverage partnerships across the community where nonprofits can learn from peers, build community and share best practices and resources.

Communities of Practice

Bi-monthly gathering of school district partners, employer partners and community organizations centered on capacity building and student wealth building.

Leaders United

Comprised of nonprofit CEOs and other leaders from United Way’s nonprofit partners focused on problem-solving and sharing learnings while providing support for each other.

Grantmaking Connections

Provides nonprofit partners with opportunities to do site visits, connect across service areas and dedicated United Way program officer resources.
Download Full Connecting the Dots Report →

Address the Benefits Cliff for Working Families

We partnered with Saint Paul Promise Neighborhood to advocate for change around the benefits cliff. Last November, we collaborated to better understand how the benefits cliff was impacting parent participant lives and used this information to drive our advocacy work.

This partnership resulted in proposed legislation to expand the budgeting period for MFIP from monthly to every six months and increasing continuous eligibility for Medical Assistance (MA) to 12 months.

United Way's Policy & Advocacy Agenda

Illuminates the most prevalent themes, challenges and policy issues that are creating barriers for people and nonprofits to meet the diverse needs of Minnesota communities.

Community Connection

Amplifies stories and learnings from communities that can help people thrive and prosper.

Presence at the Capitol

Highlight learnings, insights and policy priorities, and seek to change power dynamics on a legislative level.

Hosting the Start Early Funders Coalition

This coalition is made up of funders, advocates and nonprofit organization who care about quality early childhood education and care.

Grassroots Engagement in Advocacy

Use community identified issues to create pathways for people to advocate at the legislature in ways they may not otherwise have access to.
Download Full Connecting the Dots Report →

"It is the responsibility of all of us — funders, service providers, community members, community leaders and elected officials — to invest time and energy in systems change work. We all need to commit to being at the table when decisions are made and making space for those historically excluded from them.”

– United Way Funded Nonprofit Partner, 2021

Prevent, Rather than Respond, to Homelessness

We continuously work toward stable housing for all to make sure homelessness is rare and nonrecurring.

211 and 988

Through our 211 and 988 programs, we are working with state and county agencies to improve the experience for people seeking housing and mental health services in our region. For example, building upon our work with COVID emergency rent assistance to coordinate access to services across various county jurisdictions and services providers.

Prevent Homelessness

Our Pathways Home innovation initiative will transform the housing system to provide holistic services and prevent homelessness for youth exiting foster care and people who are transitioning out of incarceration.

Policy Changes

We advocated for policy changes during the pandemic to help keep people stably housed when many Minnesotans experienced financial hardships and had a higher risk of eviction.
Download Full Connecting the Dots Report →
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Get Involved


Would you like to learn more about the solutions proposed in the Connecting the Dots report? Please contact Erin Flicker, Director of Impact Strategy and Execution, to learn more.
Contact Us →

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With a donation to Greater Twin Cities United Way, you unite with us as a changemaker, disrupting systems, unlocking human potential and creating equitable solutions that result in lasting change.
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