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Minnesota nonprofits make pitches to legislators for funding

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In a crowded Columbia Heights grocery store, visitors dodged employees pushing carts of supplies in a hallway that doubled as a waiting room.

“Watch your toes!” warned Elaine Walker, co-director of the pantry.

Southern Anoka Community Assistance (SACA) workers share desks and have to store food in two off-site locations because their workspace is so small. That’s why Foodshelf wants her $2.5 million from Minnesota to open a new facility that he’ll triple the size of.

SACA co-director Dave Rudolph said: “[The state does] have a lot of money This is a one time thing. “

SACA is one of many nonprofits in Minnesota seeking state funding to support new facilities and expanded programs at the Capitol this year.Given the state Historic $17.6 billion budget surplusthey are fighting city, county Other entities funded by retained earnings or security deposits.

DFL-Minneapolis Rep. Fue Lee, Chairman of the House Capital and Investment Committee, said:

These requests come amid heightened scrutiny of state grants to nonprofits.Spurred by some lawmakers’ concerns, the Office of the Legislative Comptroller will release a report on Thursday evaluate Grants Policy for State Agencies Nonprofits. One of the legislators who requested the report, Rep. Kristin Robbins of R-Maple Grove, has spent years about funding nonprofits that don’t provide proper data or financial controls. I said I was worried.

‘We must find ways to best manage taxpayers’ money,’ says create state office to track nonprofit grants and set stricter standards than current ones Robbins, who is drafting the bill, said.

In a large FBI investigation into the Twin Cities nonprofit Feeding Our Future, concerns raised About government funding for nonprofits.of $250 million scam scheme It included federal reimbursements to nonprofits that were supposed to feed children during the COVID-19 pandemic, under the control of state departments of education. Prosecutors say it is the country’s largest pandemic-related scam.

Legislative auditors are working on another review of the Department of Education’s oversight of “Feeding Our Future,” due out this summer.

fragmented system

The Legislature grants state grants to nonprofits by approving specific grants to nonprofits or allocating funds to state agencies for specific purposes and accepting applications for funding from nonprofits. play a central role in approving the funding of

More than $1 billion is spent annually through state grants to nonprofits. But most of her more than 9,000 nonprofits in the state receive no government funding, according to the Minnesota Nonprofit Council.

The Council recently report On how to develop a more efficient and equitable subsidy system. Marie Ellis, the council’s public policy director, said the system is fragmented and inconsistent because each agency has a different selection process.Council supports streamlining state grant applications to increase accountability, but doesn’t want to Lawmakers “overcorrect” There are restrictions that can be barriers for small nonprofits.

Last year, a scandal that fed our future led state Senate Republicans to suggest Additional financial audits of some nonprofits and banning newly formed nonprofits from receiving state money.

Lawmakers didn’t pass a guarantee bill in 2022, so nonprofits are back again this year for that money. Lee said the surplus will likely give more nonprofits access to state funding this year, helping underinvested communities like those nonprofits often serve. .

“Many of these nonprofits have missions that may not be covered by our public sector, doing work that serves Black, Brown, Indigenous, and Colored communities. “We really need to make sure…nonprofits [their] Consideration of due diligence and funding. “

Governor Tim Waltz last week release His $3.3 billion infrastructure plan includes $200 million general funding for capital projects for nonprofits and community-based organizations led by and serving communities of color. It is That’s double what the governor has asked nonprofits to do in recent years, according to the Nonprofit Council.

“In many cases, these projects relieve government burden by providing services,” says Ellis. “And those are really public interests.”

Seeking state support

SACA has six staff and is serving more people than before the pandemic. Many of them are asking for help for the first time. More Minnesotans visited the pantry 2022 will be more than any other year in history

“Often we can be the difference between paying rent and eating enough,” Rudolph said.

SACA’s proposed new building will double the warehouse and freezer space and add a technology center. The Food Shelf, which serves residents of North Metro and northeastern Minneapolis, received his $1 million in aid from the federal government and about $500,000 toward his $4.2 million renovation plan for a former machine shop. collected donations.

Without state funding, SACA plans to continue raising funds or securing loans to open the facility by 2024, Rudolph said.

Other nonprofits across the state are pitching for funding.In Minneapolis, V3 Sports Seeks His $15 Million water sports center, Simpson Housing Services is asking for $10 million for a new homeless shelter. Anoka County’s Hope4 Youth is asking for $8 million for a new drop-in center for homeless youth, and Wright County’s Camp College, which helps children and adults with disabilities, wants a new recreational facility to be his home. It’s asking for $10 million.

Metro Meals on Wheels, which relies on federal and state aid for about half of its budget, is seeking $540,000 to bring meals to veterans. Executive his director Patrick Rowan has made a request for funding once before and hopes it will be funded this time.

“Nonprofits play an important role in the network of services,” he said. “The need for hunger relief is widely recognized, regardless of location or party.”

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