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MN legislature passes bill to renew Nonprofit Infrastructure Grant Program

The grant of $4 million will help BIPOC nonprofits with budgets of less than $1 million over the next two years.

ST PAUL, Minn. — The Minnesota legislature is working to level the playing field for nonprofits, especially those that are smaller and culturally specific.

According to this report from the Asian American/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy, in 2018, For every $100 awarded to nonprofits in Minnesota by institutional philanthropy, only 42 cents went to AAPI communities.

Nationwide, the Latin X community is the second largest ethnic group, but only 1.5 percent of grant dollars serves them.

This is a reality Irma Marquez Trapero who runs LatinoLEAD, is familiar with.

"We are a network of leaders, partners, and allies that come together to strategize solutions to advance our influence success, and power for and with the Latino community in Minnesota," Marquez Trapero said.

LatinoLEAD is also a previous grant recipient. The Nonprofit Infrastructure Grant Program originated in 2017 as a bill that passed. Since then, it has been working on a renewal basis, meaning it has to be reintroduced and passed as a bill every couple of years to renew the grant.

This year it's 4 million over the next two years. Marquez Trapero said the grant was transformational for her nonprofit.

"We went from one full-time staff person to now a team of four, with obviously some consultants too, to ensure that our infrastructure is solid," Marquez Trapero said. "As communities of color, we wanna make sure that the impact that we're having is sustainable."

And Propel, a nonprofit that helps kick-start other nonprofits says the money from the grant goes towards capacity building.

"Specifically for this funding source to support the infrastructure so who takes care of the organization, their internal needs, sustainability of their mission and this funding supports that," Propel's Capacity Building Director Naima Farah said. "And so we are really grateful for the opportunity to continue the work and continue partnering with the sector."

The chief authors of this bill, Democratic lawmakers Representative Samantha Sencer-Mura and Senator Aric Putnam said the bill's passage is a vote of confidence in the nonprofits working to serve BIPOC communities.

"We really wanted to support the nonprofits that we know that might have struggled to get funding from traditional philanthropy, might struggle to get other state or federal funding," Sencer-Mura said. "So we are focusing on nonprofits with a budget of a million dollars or less."

"Every part of the state can do with some attention when it comes to equity," Putnam said. "Equity is not a city's concern, it's a statewide concern, and by investing in local nonprofits, especially BIPOC nonprofits, you are addressing some of those concerns with the people who are affected by them."

With the bill's passage Tuesday night, it will now be sent to the governor's desk for his signature.

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