Increased Assets for A New Level of Impact
Wow! It was quite a meeting when the Sauers told me they had sold their company and a portion of the proceeds from the sale would come to the foundation. That alone was exciting news! Then they told me that the assets of the foundation would increase from $28 million to $100 million, and that amount would be invested in the community over the next 10 years. I was stunned! The opportunity and responsibility of this magnitude of expansion of our work is not to be taken lightly.
I started working part-time at the foundation in 2005 when it had assets of $3 million. The family was doing good work with small grants to great organizations. The foundation has grown steadily since that time. In the 15 years I have worked here, it has grown to almost 10 times its size and we steadily continued to try to do our best work with the assets. And now, the family has bumped the assets to $100 million and we have our work cut out for us.
In the past year, things have changed. The pandemic exacerbated conditions for low-income families. People lost jobs, businesses closed, and life as we knew it changed. Added to that, the murder of George Floyd and the community reckoning over the ways public systems are failing our Indigenous and African American neighbors, left people feeling overwhelmed. It has been an extraordinary year of grief as we all learned the extent of the issues magnified by these two key events. I believe we are getting to the point of hope and action for real change.
There are deep racial inequities in the child welfare and education systems and our work to make changes to those systems seems more urgent than ever. African American and Native American children are disproportionately taken from their families and languish in the child welfare system longer than other children. This has to stop! The trauma being inflicted on these children and their families is often unnecessary and unthinkable. The Sauer Family Foundation remains committed to trying to help solve this problem in child welfare. Safe and healthy families create safe and healthy communities. We are also committed to helping children develop adaptive and flexible coping skills for processing stress and learning self-regulation for better life outcomes. In education, we want every child learning to read; especially children with specific learning disabilities. We also hope to diversify the workforce in all three of our funding areas because greater representation is an effective way to create more equitable outcomes for children and families in Minnesota.
This is a moment in time that requires significant change. We have a lot to learn to do our best work going forward. But I am grateful to the Sauer family for meeting the moment with a dramatic increase in assets for their foundation and for their plan for $100 million of change-making over the next 10 years. I am excited to have the opportunity to work alongside others in our community to create needed and lasting change.