2018 Community Impact Awards


From a full-service bike shop and a commercial real estate firm to a statewide historical society and a youth performing arts organization, Minnesota Business magazine's 2018 Community Impact Award winners and finalists are changing, saving and improving lives for Minnesotans. 

Best in Class Micro Company
Best in Class Boutique Company
Best in Class Small Company
Best in Class Medium Company
Best in Class Large Company
Arts and Culture Award
Diverse Business Development Award
Nonprofit Board Member of the Year Award
Social Enterprise Award
Pro Bono Maximus Award
Sustainability Award
Paragon of Leadership Award
Workplace Giving
Nonprofit Spotlight Award
Youth Initiative Award

Best in Class Micro Company

Winner: New Rules

New Rules is more than a co-working space; it’s a playground for creatives and a destination for ideas. Founded in 2016 by CEO Chris Webley, New Rules provides ecosystems and solutions for black and brown communities where structures of oppression breed. The organization takes unproductive buildings in overlooked communities and turns them into innovative hubs.

 
Spaces are equipped with computers, photography and video equipment, and sewing machines for fashion designers, as well as event space. Artists, both professional and budding, connect, collaborate — create.

Since launching, New Rules has hosted nearly 100 community events, including fashion shows, art exhibits, pop-up retail, workshops and more. Additionally, the space is a center for rapid prototyping, providing a platform for creating economic opportunities. 

What is the goal of your organization?
Our goal is to inspire deep commitment, courageous action and unwavering devotion to individuals and communities by providing thoughtful resources. 

What best exemplifies your efforts and success? 
Our members have been able to come and get the necessary tools and resources to be successful all in one place, and we are noticing an organic growth swell of untapped potential seeking opportunities to grow. 

In your area of community work, what do you see as the biggest challenge for the future?
The biggest challenge is continuing to push members of the community, the city of Minneapolis and philanthropic partners to think differently about how we address economic, education, and health and wellness disparities in North Minneapolis. 

Finalist: Local Crate

Local responsibility is at the core of Local Crate's subscription-based meal-kit service. By partnering with Minnesota chefs, local food producers and community organizations, the organization showcases seasonal local recipes alongside local advocates while supporting local causes. 

The company also works to combat hunger in the community. For every delivery it makes, Local Crate donates a meal to hunger-relief partners, such as Chef Lucas Food, Second Harvest Heartland or East Side Table. 

Finalist: Jabber Logic

An ad agency and consulting firm specializing in nonprofits, Jabber Logic believes that every organization should have access to successful branding and marketing strategies. Since 2015, more than 300 individuals from local nonprofit organizations have participated in the firm’s affordable marketing trainings in partnership with Impact Hub Minneapolis – St. Paul, Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and BushCONNECT. They are currently working on an online course that will make their training more affordable and accessible for organizations.

Best in Class Boutique Company

Winner: Nemer Fieger

A family-owned, 60-year-old, full-service marketing communications agency, Nemer Fieger has a long history of facilitating strategic partnerships between its clients and nonprofit organizations. The company incorporates the same spirit of giving into its business model. At least once each quarter, employees work together on community projects, such as cleaning the People Serving People’s facilities, providing and serving lunch at the Richard M. Schulze Family American Cancer Society Hope Lodge, and leading a play day at a local park for kids from Perspectives. Employees also receive paid time-off to volunteer for their favorite causes. 

What best exemplifies your efforts and success?
In 1999, Nemer Fieger was challenged to create a unique cause-marketing initiative for our client, Subway, that would resonate with their core audience (active males ages 18–24), while providing Subway with a way to give back to the community. From that, the event Subway Bedrace for Bridging was born. Each year, the race has grown exponentially. All registration fees go directly to Bridging, and the event has raised more than $900,000. It’s on pace to top $1 million in 2018.
 
In your area of community work, what do you see as the biggest challenge for the future? 
We believe that our biggest challenge for the future will be to focus on sharing stories that create personal relationships and hands-on opportunities for people in their 20s, 30s and 40s. They are the future of all businesses, for-profit and not-for-profit, and their passion, pocketbooks and personal push is the only way to retain relevance and drive continued growth for any community organization.

Finalist: Birchwood Cafe

Birchwood Cafe was established 22 years ago. Its mission is connecting people to where their food comes from, as well as to one another. Owner Tracy Singleton and her leadership team focus on serving what they call “Good Real Food,” using as many local, organic and sustainably sourced ingredients as possible. The café is also a leader in community engagement, providing strong support of local groups focused on healthy food systems, social and environmental justice, and school nutrition.

Finalist: Stonebridge Capital Advisors

Stonebridge Capital Advisors is a Twin Cities–based investment advisory firm. The company has been deeply rooted in the community for more than 20 years. During the past year, its support for CommonBond has helped provide affordable housing and services to more than 10,000 individuals with an annual income averaging $21,000. The firm and its employees also volunteer their time, including providing a barbecue for CommonBond’s Upper Post Veterans Community, where all the residents have previously experienced homelessness.

Best in Class Small Company

Winner: Pilgrim Dry Cleaners

In 1986, Don Rosen, founder of Pilgrim Dry Cleaners, created the Coats for Kids program. Since then, the business has collected and cleaned nearly 399,000 coats to help keep children warm. Employees and sponsors contribute many hours of work to collect, clean and distribute the coats, and additional funds are used to purchase new ones. Rosen passed away in 2015, but his efforts continue through his daughter, and Pilgrim president, Bonnie Engler. 

What best exemplifies your efforts and success?
One of our charity partners this year, Mary’s Place, gave us a list with hundreds of coats needed for their residents. This year, thanks to a generous donation from Alerus Mortgage and the overwhelming support from our community, we were able to provide Mary’s Place with all of the coats that they needed. We partnered with a personal shopper at Macy’s Ridgedale who helped us source more than 1,000 coats finding specific sizes at the best rates to give to Mary’s Place. Knowing that no one will be without a coat this year was truly rewarding.

In your area of community work, what do you see as the biggest challenge for the future? 
The biggest challenges we face with our annual community drives are educating our community about the continued need and generating enough interest every year to obtain sponsors, monetary donations and collections. It is a challenge to raise enough awareness and excitement about our community drives every year. We are always in need of more schools, businesses and organizations looking to partner with our community drives, and we will continue to work hard to build those relationships.
 

Finalist: Renodis

The employees of telecom and mobility management company Renodis are dedicated to making a difference in the community. A culture around “how can we help others today” extends beyond customer service to the community and is evidenced from the top down. CEO Craig Beason prioritizes charitable giving in his professional and personal life and steers the company’s community involvement efforts. The leadership team empowers employees to support the community through its “Employee Points Program,” which awards points for fulfilling monthly challenges around personal-, professional- and charitable-giving opportunities. These points can be turned in for prizes.

Finalist: BankCherokee

For BankCherokee, part of being a community bank is taking an active role in the health of the communities it serves. All officers of the company are encouraged to be involved in at least one community organization, typically at a leadership level. The bank also offers organization-wide opportunities for all employees to give back, including volunteering in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, collecting books and supplies for schools, and coordinating an annual food drive to benefit Neighborhood House and Ralph Reeder Food Shelf.

Best in Class Medium Company

Winner: The Opus Group

The Opus Group is a family of commercial real estate development, construction and design companies headquartered in Minneapolis with offices and projects across the country. The company has its own foundation — the Opus Foundation — as well as an Opus Volunteer Council (OVC) that delivers on the corporate mission of fostering “a spirit of giving by committing human and financial resources to our local communities.” Each April, more than 80% of Opus employees take the day off to volunteer in their communities, and in 2016, the Opus Foundation awarded more than $100,000 in grants to partner organizations. 

What best exemplifies your efforts and success?
Our relationship with Rebuilding Together Twin Cities began in 2007 when the Opus Foundation awarded a grant to them. Since then, the foundation has awarded them $150,000 in grants, and Opus employees have volunteered on its sites for the past five Founder’s Days (a company-wide volunteer day in honor of founder Gerry Rauenhorst’s first construction contract). In those five years, we’ve rehabilitated 15 homes — allowing 26 individuals to remain in their homes — and four community sites, benefitting many communities in the Twin Cities and totaling more than 2,600 volunteer hours and $70,000 in volunteer labor. 

What does this award mean to your company?
Stewardship is one of our core values and has been a pillar of our organization from the beginning. We’re honored to be able to uphold this value that our founder, Gerry Rauenhorst, instilled in our company. Maintaining this value of stewardship allows us to keep Gerry’s legacy alive and honor him.

Finalist: North Star Resource Group

Financial services firm North Star Resource Group traces its roots back to 1908. In 2004, the firm established a foundation to maximize its charitable contributions and support causes close to the North Star team. Since then, it has consistently donated 10% of profits annually to the foundation. To date, the foundation has contributed nearly $4 million to the communities in which North Star works.

Finalist: Business Impact Group

Business Impact Group (BIG) encourages its employees to share their time, resources and talents to enrich the community. It also partners with the STAR Foundation to provide time and resources to help improve the lives of individuals, families and children who need it most. Some of its projects have included raising money to bring potable water to a small village in Ghana, Africa, where one of its former employees grew up. Before the introduction of the project, villagers had to walk several miles to a river to access water.
 

Best in Class Large Company

Winner: Walser Automotive Group

Walser Automotive Group got its start in 1954 when Jack Walser bought his first dealership at the age of 27. Today, the company has more than 20 franchises at 15 Twin Cities locations, as well as affiliate businesses such as Sixt and Choice Auto Rental, Express Auto Parts, and Walser Collision & Glass. Walser Automotive Group donates 5% of pre-tax earnings to its Walser Foundation to provide grants to organizations that benefit education at all levels, as well as organizations that help build a strong workforce for the future.  Walser believes that every child deserves a bright future, and every person should have the opportunity to reach his or her full potential.  Access to education and career training makes this possible. 

What best exemplifies your efforts and success?
In 2017, Walser gave grants to 35 nonprofits, sponsored 16 events and was the hole-in-one contest sponsor at seven golf tournaments benefitting local nonprofits. Grant recipients included Way to Grow’s “Great by 8” early childhood program, AchieveMpls’ Career & College Centers, Oasis for Youth’s employment partnership program with Mall of America, Harvest Network of Schools’ student care center, and Jewish Family and Children’s Services Parent-Child Home Program. 

What phrase best expresses the values of your company?
The first of Walser’s four core values expresses both the company’s and the foundation’s overall goal: Do the right thing.
 

Finalist : Arvig

Established in 1950, Arvig has grown from a small, family-owned telephone company to one of the largest independent telecommunications and broadband providers in the nation. As a community-based provider, Arvig is committed to giving back. Over the past 10 years, its local contributions have totaled more than $5 million. In 2016, the company donated more than $450,000 to a variety of organizations, fundraising events, sponsorships, schools, scholarships, community development projects and sports programs. Part of its mission to “enhance lives” comes in the form of the annual Royale B. and Eleanor M. Arvig Scholarship, which offers one student in each of the 37 school districts throughout the Arvig service area the opportunity to receive $3,000 to be used toward post-secondary education. Other school-related donations have included sponsorships of post-proms and numerous sports teams, 4-H and Future Farmers of America groups, as well as school events.

Finalist: Bell Bank

Bell Bank was founded in 1966 as a small local bank. Today, it is among the nation’s top 25 largest independently owned banks, yet it continues to maintain that “hometown” feel. The company has established numerous employee-giving and volunteer campaigns, and every full-time employee receives 16 hours paid volunteer time. Also, its unique Pay It Forward program has empowered employees to give away more than $10 million since 2007. Through the program, employees receive up to $1,000 to donate as they choose to individuals, families and organizations in need.

Arts and Culture Award

Winner: Minnesota Historical Society

Using the power of history to transform lives, Minnesota Historical Society collects, preserves and tells the story of Minnesota’s past. The organization recently added its Department of Inclusion and Community Engagement (DICE) and American Indian Initiatives. DICE runs three college fellowship programs that serve students from traditionally underrepresented communities and sovereign tribal nations. 

What best exemplifies your efforts and success?
The opening weekend of the “We Are Hmong/Peb Yog Hmoob Minnesota” exhibit. More than 3,500 people turned out, from the very youngest to the more wizened members of the Hmong community and Minnesotans of all ages and ethnicities. Dignitaries included Minneapolis City Council Member Blong Yang, Senator Foung Hawj, Colonel Ly Teng, and Congresswoman Betty McCollum. The opening exemplified how much the exhibit meant to the Hmong community and what a community partnership could produce. A number of Hmong youth commented that the exhibit helped them understand what their parents went through to provide a better life for them. We also heard from Minnesotans who didn’t previously know the story of the Hmong, and who came to understand, accept and celebrate their neighbors.

What do you see as the biggest challenge for the future?
Our biggest challenge with community engagement has been the ability to sustain these critical relationships in meaningful ways. We decided to address this issue by creating a strategic priority related to inclusion and diversity and then funded that priority. We are proud of the work we have done to support and sustain our engagement efforts, and we are aware that to remain successful, we must be vigilant in prioritizing these relationships.
 

Finalist: Free Arts Minnesota

Free Arts Minnesota works with youth in challenging circumstances to support artistic and personal development through a unique combination of mentorship and arts learning. The organization provides arts learning opportunities to underserved youth across the Twin Cities, including those who persevere through mental health crises, domestic violence, homelessness, chronic poverty and drug addiction. Programs include mentoring, art workshops, a teaching art series, arts festivals and art supply kit drives.

Finalist: People Incorporated

People Incorporated’s annual Artability is one of the innovative ways the organization delivers integrated mental health services in the Twin Cities. The program is a celebration of the creativity and contributions of people with mental illnesses to our community and features art and writing workshops leading up to an art show and sale. Artability gives those living with mental illness an outlet to cope and heal through art. It promotes mental health through self-expression, community and artistic opportunities in a supportive, nurturing environment.

Diverse Business Development Award

Winner: MRCI Worksource

MRCI began as Mankato Rehabilitation Center, Inc. in 1953, a physical therapy organization for individuals with disabilities. The organization strives to provide innovative and genuine opportunities for people with disabilities and disadvantages to participate in their communities. Today, MRCI empowers more than 5,000 individuals through its locations in Chaska, Fairmont, Mankato, New Ulm, Rosemount and Shakopee.

What best exemplifies your efforts and success?
Justin will tell you his eyes may be broken, but his hands aren’t. Crouzon syndrome, which among other things left him visually impaired, was a barrier to Justin finding the job he so desperately wanted. Employers didn’t seem keen on giving him a chance until MRCI stepped in. Justin graduated from MRCI’s Track to Success program where he received soft skills, as well as on-the-job training. The program director then hit the pavement with Justin until they found an employer willing to look past his disability and give him a chance.

In your area of community work, what do you see as the biggest challenge for the future? 
Educating employers on how to create an inclusive culture is one challenge we, and our clients, face. Employers are often unaware of measures they can take to make their workplaces more accessible for all. Once that education occurs, they gain a better understanding of how fully integrating individuals with disabilities and their many talents into the workplace can make it so much more enjoyable, more productive and more diverse. We are addressing this challenge by developing a series of interactive presentations called “Coaching Capacity.”  Topics include “Inclusion Drives Innovation,” “Overcoming Employment Obstacles,” and “POWER of NICE.”

Finalist: WomenVenture

WomenVenture is a nonprofit organization that serves women entrepreneurs in the Twin Cities area. It is one of only two Women’s Business Centers in Minnesota, as designated by the Small Business Administration. The organization is part of a network of more than 100 educational centers across the U.S. that strive to level the playing field for women entrepreneurs who face unique obstacles in the world of business. For 40 years, WomenVenture has provided more than 103,000 women of all ages, cultures, races and income levels with the tools and resources to achieve economic success through small business ownership.

Finalist: YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities

The YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities is dedicated to strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. The organization was established 161 years ago and provides life-strengthening services across the greater Twin Cities metro region, southeastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin communities. It serves more than 350,000 men, women and children of all ages, incomes and backgrounds through a variety of programs that address the opportunity gap, create meaningful outdoor experiences, combat chronic disease, and engage all ages in health and wellness.

Nonprofit Board Member of the Year Award

Winner: Kathy Thomforde, Mid-Continent Oceanographic Institute

Mid-Continent Oceanographic Institute (MOI) is a chapter-in-development of 826 National, the acclaimed network of tutoring and writing centers founded by award-winning author Dave Eggers. Each chapter location has a unique retail component that helps generate revenue to support programming and creates a fun learning experience for the youth who attend the programs. Currently, MOI offers five different programs for the more than 1,400 students it serves in the Twin Cities: After School Homework Help, In-School Tutoring, Creative Writing Workshops, Storytelling and Bookmaking Field Trips, and an annual Young Authors’ Book Project. Every program at MOI is free to students, families and teachers.

A former professor, Kathy Thomforde served as board chair of MOI. She worked tirelessly on behalf of the organization, recruiting board members, spearheading fundraising efforts and visiting partner sites across the country to learn from best practices. She also stepped in as the interim executive director prior to the hiring of the new director.

“Since Kathy came to MOI as a volunteer in October 2015, she has been a gift to our organization,” says nominator Samantha Sencer-Mura.

What best exemplifies your efforts and success? 
I have been privileged to be present as a tutor when a student mastered a new concept in geometry during After School Homework Help. I have been inspired when our students hold a book of their published work in their hands for the first time. I love to hear our students refer to themselves as “writers” with the confidence that their voices are worth hearing.

What does this award mean to you? 
I would hope this recognition would result in greater awareness of MOI and our mission to empower and inspire young people who may lack opportunity, but not ability. A future Minnesota with equal access to opportunity can become reality if we work together to make it happen.
 

Finalist: Pete Surdo, West Side Community Health Services

“Pete has proved to me time and time again, that he truly believes in community service and transparency. I have never seen anyone so dedicated to an organization, and we’re an unpaid board! It amazes me that he can continue to do so much for us when he is working a very demanding job and has two young children.” ~ Nominator Hee Lee-Kron

Finalist: Joe Stackhouse, SAVE

“I have never met a better board president than Joe. His commitment, dedication to the organization and board members far exceeds any other board member I have ever met … Joe’s impact has resulted in SAVE’s growth and expansion in countless ways. … The bottom line is this: SAVE would not be here today and definitely would not be in the position we are leading suicide prevention efforts locally, nationally and globally if Joe was not 
the president of the board of directors.” ~ Nominator Dr. Dan Reidenberg

Social Enterprise Award

Winner: Express Bike Shop

Since its inception more than 20 years ago, Express Bike Shop has been a social-enterprise, full-service bike shop, giving young people meaningful first-job experiences through a 200-plus hour apprenticeship that includes paid traditional work experience, training and individual coaching. One hundred percent of business profits are reinvested back into the organization’s youth apprenticeship program. 

What best exemplifies your efforts and success?
Marques Watson began his apprenticeship at Express Bike Shop in 2015 and was eager to learn more about bike mechanics and earn some money to help with family household expenses. Marques flourished in his apprenticeship, becoming a favorite with customers, which led him to more advanced employment opportunities at the shop. Since Marques became employed at Express Bike Shop, he has graduated from Central High School, became a student at St. Paul College, is now one of the shop managers and is responsible for managing new apprentice orientations.

What do you see as the biggest challenge for the future? 
To succeed in today’s workforce, teens need early opportunities to develop desirable skillsets that will help them flourish in the future. Express Bike Shop’s youth apprenticeships provide these early opportunities by engaging youth in work-readiness training and real work experiences to develop the habits and skills that they need to compete for jobs in the future. The biggest challenge for Express Bike Shop and its partners is how to generate more of these opportunities for teens through increased partnerships and resources. As a program of Keystone Community Services, Express Bike Shop has expanded its apprentice model to other program areas within Keystone, leading to new apprenticeship opportunities for neighborhood youth.
 

Finalist: Sunrise Banks

Sunrise Banks is working to empower others to achieve. Headquartered in St. Paul and founded in 1962, the family-owned national charter bank has a strong history serving the inner Twin Cities. Its six branches are located within the Twin Cities’ urban core, all are public-transit accessible, and four are within low- and moderate-income areas. Sixty percent of its loans are in distressed, local communities, and the bank is constantly implementing programs to serve underbanked areas. It also commits to giving a minimum 2% of pretax earnings to nonprofits, and 63% of its facilities are Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified.

Finalist: MDI

The nonprofit MDI is a leader in manufacturing corrugated standard and custom plastic packaging solutions, production assembly, and environmental services. For more than 50 years and through a successful social enterprise model, MDI has been promoting self-sufficiency by providing meaningful work in an inclusive environment, with nearly half of its workforce comprising people with disabilities. Employees have access to employment support specialists along with job placement services. This integrated workforce helps to manufacture a wide variety of totes, trays and boxes sold to businesses across the country.

Pro Bono Maximus Award

Winner: Stinson Leonard Street

A commitment to helping those in need, and to closing the justice gap, is one of the founding principles of the law firm Stinson Leonard Street. In 2016, the attorneys in each of the firm’s practice groups donated a total of 23,014 hours of volunteer legal work.
 
What best exemplifies your efforts and success?
Minneapolis partner David Jenson recently worked with a woman to help bring her husband to the United States from Yemen. There were many unforeseen issues to contend with that complicated and prolonged the process. The U.S. embassy in Yemen closed, the husband was forced to move to Ethiopia, and immigration authorities lost his file multiple times. David helped the woman become a naturalized U.S. citizen and then enlisted the assistance of U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar and a former colleague who is an experienced international immigration attorney. The hard work paid off: In September of 2017, after many years apart and seven years of David’s unflagging representation, the husband, wife and their children were finally reunited.  

In your area of community work, what do you see as the biggest challenge for the future? 
Ensuring that recent immigrants, especially those with mental illness or other significant health challenges, have access to legal services and the court system. This commitment is demonstrated by the Deinard Legal Clinic, a health law partnership the firm has operated for 24 years for the residents of Minneapolis’ Philips neighborhood. To date, it has served more than 2,700 clients, many of whom are immigrants. The firm also belongs to a coalition that has established 15 health law partnerships across Minnesota.
 

Finalist: Robins Kaplan LLP

Trial law firm Robins Kaplan LLP has more than 220 attorneys in eight major cities. The attorneys donate their legal talents to provide access to justice for those in need. Over the years, the firm has assisted a great diversity of clients, including immigrants, criminal defendants, communities in need of basic services, political activists, victims of domestic abuse, those seeking economic opportunity, and institutions that provide cultural and civic education. Each attorney is asked to contribute at least 50 hours of pro bono work annually, and all pro bono work is counted toward an associate’s billable hour goal without a cap. Since 2008, more than 7% of our total attorney billable time has been contributed to those who cannot afford legal representation.

Finalist: Dorsey and Whitney LLP

Headquartered in Minneapolis, Dorsey & Whitney LLP is a full-service law firm with approximately 550 lawyers practicing in 20 locations throughout the United States and Canada, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. The firm has a large pro bono administrative team that provides extensive support to our attorneys to ensure that all attorneys have an opportunity to participate in meaningful pro bono work.

Sustainability Award

Winner: The Solar Honey Company

The Solar Honey Company is working to use solar energy to address the dwindling populations of pollinators. The organization promotes the productive use of land under and around ground-mounted solar panels for apiaries. Typically, turf grass or gravel is placed under the panels. SHC believes there is a better way: planting the land with pollinator-friendly species and locating beehives among them. 

What best exemplifies your efforts and success?
Due to the high volume of online sales, we are learning that there is a national demand for solar honey. Consumers are loving the raw honey, not only because it is delicious, but also because they feel good about purchasing a product that promotes sustainability through solar energy, pollinator-friendly beekeeping.

What do you see as the biggest challenge for the future? 
The biggest challenge that we are seeing is that people, although they support the use of solar, do not want a solar development in their backyard.  They have seen images of ugly and barren solar arrays. We are attending county and city commission hearings explaining that we are partnering with solar developers who are being intentional. Beautiful pollinator-friendly habitat is being created, and the surrounding farmers’ crop yields will increase due to apiary placement. So far, our presence at these meetings has resulted in amazing results, allowing the pollinator-friendly solar development with apiary placement to move forward. 

How would you best express the values of your organization?
Solar Honey values the stacking of multiple benefits to farmland — beekeeping, pollinator-habitat and solar energy. 

Finalist: EMC

Energy Management Collaborative (EMC) maximizes the full value of turnkey lighting and controls retrofit projects and services for customers in a broad range of retail, commercial, industrial and government settings. EMC’s innovative EnergyMAXX Tool helps its clients pinpoint the locations and timing for their LED lighting projects, accelerating the energy-saving process and maximizing results. The company has set a goal to achieve 100 billion kilowatt hours of customer energy savings by 2025, the same amount of energy that would be saved shutting down 30 power plants for a year.

Finalist: Maud Borup

Maud Borup is a privately held, woman-owned, veteran-owned, Minnesota-based wholesale confections company specializing in gourmet candy, snacks, baking kits, beverages mixes and seasonal food gifts. The company is built upon tenets of respecting customers, employees and the planet. Maud Borup intentionally chose the small farming town LeCenter for its new factory to bring good jobs to the town and erected a 100-foot wind turbine to provide 100% of the power. Excess clean energy is available to local communities, and its eco eggs are 100% renewable, plant-based plastic Easter eggs.

Paragon of Leadership Award

Winner: Sally Mainquist, Veritae Group

Sally Mainquist is cofounder and CEO of Veritae Group, a 100% woman-owned business that provides interim leadership to local organizations. Clients utilize Veritae’s consultants to bridge resource and knowledge gaps in executive-level projects and financial roles. She also is the founder of the UNI Alumni Accounting Group, the Financial Executive Women’s Network and NeXtworking, and contributes to the boards of Alzheimer’s Association of Minnesota, University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital and the University of St. Thomas Center for Ethical Business Cultures. 

“Sally has made an incredibly positive impact through her service, character and leadership.  She has created an environment of corporate and personal giving by her board service, volunteering and business philosophies,” says nominator Kris Larson. 

What best exemplifies your efforts and success?
Veritae embraces the Go-Givers business model advocated in business books written by authors Bob Burg and John David Mann: “Start by giving and success will follow.” Simply put, it’s not so much what we do but how we do it that differentiates us. We put this model to work by: 

  • Giving one-third of our operating profits back to our consultants and local charities
  • Making investments in people, not brick and mortar, passing along savings to clients through lower-than-average markups
  • Openly sharing our network to those in transition, at no cost to clients should they hire our referrals
  • Retaining loyal, top-notch talent by offering unique benefits, such as SIMPLE IRA with maximum match, loyalty bonuses, charitable matching, access to season tickets and above-market pay
  • Building community through involvement with numerous boards, charitable-focused events and networking forums with executive leaders and peers

In your area of community work, what do you see as the biggest challenge for the future? 
Nonprofits need to get people engaged and utilize next-generation ideas, not just rely on old methods. Relationships are important, and people want to be involved, not just write a check. 
 

Finalist: Tory Bjorklund

Tory Bjorklund is a critical member of the client delivery leadership team at Stoneridge Software, he heads up our Center of Excellence and is our lead architect for Stoneridge products and client projects. He is lovingly referred to as “The Mad Scientist” by teammates, and is known for his innovation and thought leadership. He was instrumental in setting up the corporate charitable giving programs at Stoneridge Software and is a strong advocate of volunteer leadership. … Tory takes Mondays off from his full-time job at Stoneridge Software to focus on his nonprofit duties for The Regeneration Center.” ~ Nominator Cody Marshall

Finalist: Ed Deutschlander

“After graduating from Macalester College in 1993, Ed Deutschlander began his career with North Star Resource Group. … On January 1, 2016, Ed became chief executive officer of North Star, succeeding previous CEO Phil Richards after his 46-year tenure. Aside from Ed’s leadership within North Star, he is a founding board member of the Scott Richards North Star Charitable Foundation, a founder of North Star’s Bikes for Kids event, a renowned international speaker, past-president of GAMA International and on the board of trustees of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Association.” ~ Nominator Kristen Bernsteen

Workplace Giving

Winner: Antenna

Antenna brings marketing professionals to corporations and nonprofits for consulting, interim leadership and staff augmentation. In 2016, the company launched its Good Works program: For every hour its consultants work, the company provides a meal to someone in need.  

In your area of community work, what do you see as the biggest challenge for the future? 
Hunger is often invisible. We know that one in 10 Minnesotans faces hunger at some point each year. … Because food insecurity is often inconspicuous, it can be difficult to get meals to the people who need it most. We’re so pleased to partner with two of the most reputable and expansive hunger-relief organizations: Second Harvest Heartland provides support to nearly 1,000 agency partner programs, food shelves, soup kitchens, senior centers and more, throughout a 59-county area of southern Minnesota and western Wisconsin. Feeding America is a nationwide network of more than 200 food banks that help feed more than 46 million people through food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and other community-based agencies.

What does this award mean to you?
The recognition of the hard work our consultants do, every hour of every day, and the impact it has on their communities is such an affirmation of the radical idea that you can do well by doing good.

Finalist: Bell Bank

Bell Bank was founded in 1966 as a small local bank. Today, it is among the nation’s top 25 largest independently owned banks, yet it continues to maintain that “hometown” feel. The company has established numerous employee-giving and volunteer campaigns, and every full-time employee receives 16 hours paid volunteer time. Also, its unique Pay It Forward program has empowered employees to give away more than $10 million since 2007. Through the program, employees receive up to $1,000 to donate as they choose to individuals, families and organizations in need.

Finalist: ECMC

ECMC Group invests heavily in programs promoting financial literacy and college access and completion. The organization’s volunteer program has a 46% participation rate in Minneapolis, and allows employees up to 16 hours per year to volunteer. In addition, its Dollars for Doers Program rewards employees who volunteer during their personal time with a cash grant to the organization of their choice. It recently created the GO! Program, which allows any employee to nominate local education-related nonprofits for grants of up to $25,000 from the ECMC Foundation.

Nonprofit Spotlight Award

Winner: Be the Match

Each year, thousands of people are diagnosed with life-threatening blood cancers, such as leukemia and lymphoma. Over the past 25 years, Be The Match, operated by the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP), has managed the largest and most diverse marrow registry in the world.

Patients and their families can depend on Be The Match for resources, one-on-one guidance, and patient assistance grants to help overcome the financial burden of uninsured costs associated with transplants. Be The Match also offers resources and education to help health care professionals provide optimal care for their patients. 

What best exemplifies your efforts and success?
Pierce Kelly was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) when he was just 2 years old. Pierce, nicknamed “Fierce Pierce,” was admitted to the LA Children’s Hospital because of AML on April 7, 2017. After finding out that Pierce’s two other siblings were not matches for a marrow transplant, the family turned to Be The Match to find Pierce his life-saving donor. Luckily, Pierce was able to find a perfect match, a committed donor and proceed to transplant and is now more than 100 days post-transplant. Pierce has inspired more than 6,000 individuals to join the national Be The Match registry and continue our life-saving mission. 

Who are the primary partners in your charitable efforts? 
Be The Match works with a number of partners to ensure patients with leukemia, lymphoma and other blood diseases can receive the marrow transplants they need to save their lives. Some of those partners include apheresis centers, collection centers, donor centers, cord blood banks, recruitment groups, cooperative registries, testing labs, and transplant and research centers. 
 

Finalist: AMAZE

In 1996, a group of parents and teachers came together in response to a moment of student-against-student intolerance and prejudice in a second-grade classroom in Minneapolis. They came together in the belief that every child deserves to feel welcome in the classroom. The result was AMAZE anti-bias education training and curriculum and materials. The organization works with early childhood, elementary and middle school programs across the country, working with teachers, administrators and support staff to ensure that, at every turn, students are met with adults who create a climate of safety and belonging.
 

Finalist : Pinky Swear Foundation

Pinky Swear Foundation’s goal is to provide financial and emotional support for kids with cancer and their families. In December of 2002, nine-year-old Mitch Chepokas, terminally ill with bone cancer, withdrew the entire $6,000 from his savings account and put it into envelopes for kids receiving care on the pediatric oncology floor of the hospital. After Mitch gave away all his money, his dad made a pinky swear promise with him to always help children with cancer and their families after he was gone. Pinky Swear provides families facing cancer with financial and emotional support, including rent and mortgage payments, meals, auto expenses, child care, and events and experiences.

Youth Initiative Award

Winner: Youth Performance Company

Giving young people the power, confidence and resources to change the world through theater — that’s the reason that Youth Performance Company (YPC) was founded, and why it continues to be a source of artistic inspiration and community focus, 29 years later. The youth-inspired organization is a resource where kids of any income, race or background can come together to develop their potential, work together to create moving theatrical experiences, and learn the life skills they’ll most need, now and in the future. Programming includes main-stage and black box productions, classes, in-school residencies, community appearances and leadership development. 

What best exemplifies your efforts and success?
Each year, we tackle at least one show that deals with a serious issue of social justice, including civil rights, immigration, bullying prevention, homelessness and autism awareness. Founder and artistic director Jacie Knight says, “It’s always inspiring to work on these shows and observe how the young artists involved in the production become informed, inspired and more empathetic. Sometimes they’ll get back in touch with me years later and tell me how that one production had a profound impact on their lives, sometimes even to the point of guiding their career choices. The work we do helps young people become active community participants and leaders in their communities, and that affirms what we are trying to do here at YPC.”

Who are the primary partners in your charitable efforts?
Target Corporation, Minnesota State Arts Board, Youthprise — those have been the big three as far as foundations. Many individuals have also supported the company throughout our 29-year history.

What phrase best expresses the goal of your organization?
Be bold! That is our mantra in all things we do.
 

Finalist : Simon Says Give

Simon Says Give is a nonprofit founded by Mandi Simon when she was 8 years old. The organization works to engage youth who want to help other youth by volunteering their time, talent or treasures. Put more simply: It’s kids celebrating kids. Simon Says Give’s team has zero full-time employees and is completely run by volunteers. In addition to its adult board of directors, it has grown its youth leadership in the Minnesota chapter through a kid advisory board. Since its founding in 2012, Simon Says Give has had a direct impact on more than 125,000 kids. Its goal is to impact 2 million by 2022.

Finalist: Innovative Office Solutions

Innovative Office Solutions is the largest, independent office productivity supplier in the upper Midwest. The company’s InSports Foundation provides underprivileged kids with an opportunity to participate in sports though free day-program scholarships and team sponsorships. The company also supports “Field Goals for Charity” and “In the Game” award programs with the Minnesota Vikings, “Double Plays for Charity” with the Minnesota Twins, “Charity of the Month” with the Minnesota Wild and “Tickets for Charity” with the MN United FC.