A reflection from David Hawn, CEO of the Leadership Foundation of Minneapolis, Urban Ventures.
Dear friends and supporters: What an amazing group of compassionate people you are!
Tuesday, thanks to donations from the Timberwolves/Lynx, Hy-Vee, Matter (a global nonprofit organization based in St. Louis Park), and all of you, we distributed several tons of food and essential items in one burst––much more than I could have ever dreamed possible a mere two weeks ago.
Crisis support has been essential while local markets were closed. This week, however, some small business owners are trying to re-open their shops. Therefore, our focus must now shift away from flooding our neighborhood with free items, towards spurring small business recovery, stimulating spending by neighborhood families, and reviving the local economy.
If you have not seen it already, I invite you to read this Star Tribune Article that outlines our approach.
To summarize, starting today, Urban Ventures is:
- Immediately providing a $5,000, no-strings-attached grant to 140 small businesses in close proximity to our campus; this incredible gift is made possible by a generous anonymous donor. While this won’t eliminate all the needs of these small business owners, it will go a long way toward helping a large number of them quickly get their businesses re-opened.
- Partnering with small businesses to purchase large blocks of gift cards to their stores that we will then distribute to local families; a nice win-win transaction. We will discontinue our free food and product distribution center as this program rolls out over the coming weeks.
This strategy provides tangible and immediate assistance to our community. It also allows us an opportunity to deepen longstanding relationships and form new ones. As we deliver this assistance, we are listening closely to the needs of business owners, then matching groups of skilled volunteers to support specific requests on a case-by-case basis. We are also referring owners with more substantial needs to other governmental and private funding sources.
Urban Ventures is leading recovery efforts on Lake Street with a focus on the long-term. Our big goal–to prepare and send every child in our neighborhood to college or some form of postsecondary education–remains unchanged. But right now, Lake Street’s small business owners need us. And by “us” I mean YOU.
I am so grateful for you and all you are giving in this season,
President & CEO