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Since George Floyd: Old National Bank, Northside Funders Group, and Supporting Economic Development Equity in Minneapolis

Following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May of 2020, many companies committed to advancing equity and empowering their local communities.

Old National Bank was no exception.

“After the uprising, lots of people made a commitment to community -- and they have since gone -- but Old National has not left,” says Natalie Johnson Lee, Project Coordinator for Destination Northside Coalition (DNC). “Every time someone mentions Old National Bank, it brings a smile to my face.”

In the summer 2020, Old National Bank made several financial contributions to organizations working hard to rebuild the Minneapolis and St. Paul neighborhoods after the uprisings, while also supporting organizations working to build equity for underserved communities with grants. It soon became apparent that North Minneapolis should continue to be a focus for the bank.

In 2021, Old National sought out a partnership with Northside Funders Group (NFG).

“The best way to serve the Northside is to listen to and learn from the community. We don’t want to simply cut a check and walk away. We want to be more directly involved,” said Corrie Maki Knudson, Community Development Manager for Old National.

NFG exists to align public and private investments to create solutions to advance and achieve racial equity, uplift and include community voice, and advance social, educational, and economic opportunities in North Minneapolis. As a collaborative, each funder contributes $25,000+, and NFG pools its resources to make grants that align with the organization’s missions.

To date, Old National has contributed over $60,000 to NFG:

  • $10,000 sponsorship in 2021
  • $25,000 funder membership contribution in 2022
  • $25,000 operational grant from the Old National Bank Foundation (the philanthropic arm of the bank) in 2022 to support the efforts of DNC
  • $25,000 funder membership contribution in 2023
  • $2,500 sponsorship for the DNC docuseries event

Elizabeth Coco, NFG Managing Consultant, said bringing Old National into NFG has made a difference in lifting-up the neighborhood.

“You need to show up in the community to gain that trust,” she said. “Old National has consistently been active in sponsoring events and helping us lift-up the vitality of the Northside.”

NFG has more than 10 member institutions, and the financial structure of the NFG relies on the funders’ memberships. Two representatives from Old National sit on NFG’s advisory board and vote on proposals from entrepreneurs that are focused on pre-development work in North Minneapolis.

Through the NFG, Old National was introduced to the DNC. Two Old National team members sat on a committee with the DNC to understand its efforts around economic development in North Minneapolis. The bank’s participation led to a $25,000 grant from the Old National Bank Foundation to support DNC’s operating needs.

“Old National was one of the first in NFG to provide general operating support to one of our partners,” said Coco. “The DNC was an emerging group that came together out of a crisis in 2020. They needed structural dollars to keep the work going. I believe it was pivotal to have a partner like Old National to keep DNC’s progress going.”

A collaborative project between the NFG and DNC, a docuseries titled: “How the Genius of the Northside Ignites Its Future – It’s Our Time,” debuted this Fall. The series highlights several Black-led development projects on the Northside and explores the complexity of urban development. Johnson Lee, a former Minneapolis City Council Member, said the Sept. 27 premiere garnered a phenomenal attendance, and following the premiere, DNC held a panel discussion. Old National was a proud sponsor of the event.

“We are so grateful to Old National for stepping up to the plate. I’ve been impressed with their reach into the community and looking to have an impact that’s not about the bank, but about encouraging growth and development in the community. It’s a very intentional partnership,” Lee said.

Old National has developed numerous meaningful partnerships through its membership with the NFG. Since partnering with NFG, Old National has invested more than $90,000 to local organizations, connected with three potential commercial borrowers, engaged four new nonprofit organizations, and formed relationships with 10 fellow funders.

“So many powerful opportunities have come out of our membership with the NFG,” Maki Knudson said. “We can’t wait to see what our partners come up with next!”

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