A Commercial Kitchen for Green Garden Bakery

A Commercial Kitchen for Green Garden Bakery

by Rachel Busse

The story of Green Garden Bakery begins in the kitchen.This may seem an obvious starting place for a group selling muffins and scones, but Green Garden Bakery’s roots are anything but conventional. Rather than in culinary school or even a professional kitchen, the founders of Green Garden Bakery got their start in a cooking class for kids in North Minneapolis’ Heritage Park area.

Heritage Park is a neighborhood, but it’s also a community based around a grouping of apartment buildings and townhomes. The area sits just north of downtown Minneapolis, but it’s tucked behind a knot of highways that make it feel cloistered. At least as far as food goes, this isolated feeling is warranted. Heritage Park is a federally designated food desert. But it’s a packed neighborhood, too, and the area is home to 700 kids who need ways to stay busy and healthy after school and over the summer. Elana Dahlberg, the adviser for Green Garden Bakery and a project manager for the nonprofit Urban Strategies, explains that healthy food access is a particularly hard challenge in the summer. For a lot of kids, she says, dinner means snacks from the vending machines.

So Heritage Park began offering cooking classes as a part of their youth programing. The kids met in a community room and kitchen attached to the main leasing office, and they often practiced their cooking skills with ingredients grown in nearby community gardens. These classes offered one solution to the problem of healthy foods access, but it also increased awareness and excitement about healthy cooking, too.

Photo courtesy of GGB

That excitement grew. Soon, the youth created their first signature dessert: the green tomato cake, which Dahlberg says set the tone and values for their bakery. They sold this dessert for the first time in 2014, before they were officially a business. At the time, they were just kids having a bake sale for a friend in need of support after an accident. Still, from the start, they had a clear vision of what they valued–they wanted to be green in multiple ways. The youth decided it was important that they not only sell healthy desserts, but that they do it in an eco-conscious manner, packaging their treats in compostable packaging decorated with plant-based inks.

Today, they continue to run their business with a strong sense of community-oriented values. GGB uses a third of their profits to pay the staff, a third to invest in their business, and devotes the final third to donating back to their community.

Since their first sale, they’ve added a variety of vegetable-based desserts that incorporate vegetables in fun, creative ways that motivate youth to try new, healthy foods. GGB now serves beet brownies, jalapeno chocolate chip cookies, carrot pumpkin cakes, lavender-blueberry scones, and other youth-inspired creations. In blending gardening, baking, eco-consciousness, leadership, and empowerment, GGB has grown into a successful business that prioritizes engaging more youth as they grow. There are currently 150 youth involved; some are just in kindergarten and they help decorate the compostable packaging that houses the desserts made by older youth.

In their meeting room, the brightly colored packaging is stacked all around to dry on tables. As it is, this area is useful for cooking classes and personal development for the younger kids involved. But they lack a commercial kitchen in their community. For the older ones who bake the treats they sell, the youth must  take a 45 minute bus ride to South Minneapolis to bake in a full commercial kitchen. This impacts the older kids the most, and it has been limiting their capacity to expand.

Limitation has never stopped these young leaders. They received an anonymous gift of $150,000 toward a commercial kitchen which was capped with a gift of $50,000 from the Sundance Foundation. The Green Garden Bakery team has crowdfunded over $17,000, which they will use to buy kitchen appliances and mobile bike carts to help them get around town to make deliveries and to support pop-up sales at events.

The Green Garden Bakery leadership team–all made up of teens connected to the Heritage Park neighborhood–has now met with architects, bidded with contractors, and have submitted plans to the city for approval. They plan to have a finished kitchen by the end of the year. Once the kitchen is complete, they intend to open it up to adults in the community who are interested in starting their own catering or cooking businesses.

As Dahlberg sees it, the success of Green Garden Bakery has to do with the youth taking the lead. “There is no blueprint for what they’re doing,” she says, and their projects, “aren’t developed by adults for kids but instead for kids, by kids.” Beyond the renovation, they’re taking the lead on a variety of other projects, too. The new kitchen will give them more space to freeze ingredients for the winter, but they’re also planning high tunnels and an eventual greenhouse to extend their growing season. They plan to get a passenger van to make transportation easier. On the more distant horizon, the Light Rail will come through the neighborhood by 2021, and the team hopes to have an established storefront by then. Until then, there is plenty to be excited about.  The team is in talks with the culinary director for Minneapolis Public Schools about the possibility of serving their desserts in school lunches.


But at the core of all this excitement and innovation is a commitment to community. As Dahlberg explains, the team works together like a family, seeing each other through hardships of all kinds. The donation from Sundance Family Foundation, then, means a lot to the team, especially because it was made in honor of founder Nancy Jacobs’ mother, Helen. As a way of thanking Sundance Family Foundation, the Green Garden Bakery team created the lemon lavender blueberry scone in commemoration. With their brand new kitchen, Green Garden Bakery surely has many delicious, community-supporting desserts in their future.


Youth Training Wage Update

Youth Training Wage Update

by Peg Thomas

Executive Directors and Leaders of nonprofits and foundations have created a Youth Training Wage recommendation to Minneapolis and St. Paul. We believe in a sustainable wage for all, but also believe that the wage as currently implemented in Minneapolis has unintended consequences on youth training programs. These programs are designed to assist youth as they move from high school to gainful careers. Youth living in neighborhoods with multiple supports may not need these programs as much as youth living in areas that don’t provide these supports. Youth training programs typically provide strong social and emotional learning, community engagement, workforce development and agile thinking. Sundance has typically called these Youth Social Entrepreneurship (YSE) organizations.

Directors agree that we support a thoughtful increase in the employment wage and believe it will promote economic security and an increase in quality of life in our communities. We oppose any carve-outs or exemptions for nonprofits, social enterprises, and small businesses, as well as for youth in employment settings.

For youth in nonprofit training programs, however, we support a different, equally thoughtful youth training wage that is based on a percentage of the prevailing wage for full employment. Nonprofit youth training programs commonly serve youth ages 14-24 and focus a significant portion of paid time on building job readiness and social-emotional skills, especially in youth who are low income and face multiple barriers to employment.

There are approximately 50 nonprofit youth development programs that train more than 3,000 youth annually in the Twin Cities area under this “earn to learn” model. We believe that the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul should determine a youth training wage that makes sense for these programs. Without a youth training wage, nonprofit youth training programs are at risk. On average, they will see at least a 50% increase in youth wage costs under an ordinance such as the recently passed version in Minneapolis. A significant increase in costs will force an equally significant reduction in the number of youth served.

A narrow provision in the Minneapolis ordinance that provides for a 90-day training wage for youth training programs is insufficient because it does not recognize the developmental needs or environmental factors of teens employed by non-profit youth training programs. With the passage of the Minneapolis ordinance and with St. Paul considering its own sustainable wage ordinance, this is the time to develop a collaborative solution that enables our nonprofit youth training organizations to prepare youth for the 21st century workforce.

We support adoption of a thoughtful youth training wage for youth in nonprofit training programs, for at least 18 months. We also support review, refinement, and simplification of the criteria for nonprofits to qualify for the nonprofit youth training wage.

Please contact Peg Thomas at peg@sundancefamilyfoundation.org or Matt Halley at matt@cookiecart.org if you want your organization to be a part of this movement. We are hoping to amend the current ordinance in Minneapolis, and influence the ordinance scheduled for St. Paul in the fall of this year.

Changemaking – A Butterfly Effect

Changemaking – A Butterfly Effect 

by Kailyn Hill

In early February of 2018, the New York Times published an article about the idea of a changemaker. The man who coined the term, Bill Drayton, and started the idea of social entrepreneurship, discusses in the article the importance of a changemaker in our society, and how to instill this idea in the next generation. Drayton’s passions are very similar to the passions of Sundance Family Foundation, and why they started their mission of supporting youth development and strengthening family stability.

Google defines social entrepreneurship as “a person who establishes an enterprise with the aim of solving social problems or effecting social change.” Similarly, in the article Drayton defines a changemaker as someone who “can see the patterns around them, identify the problems in any situation, figure out ways to solve the problem, organize fluid teams, lead collective action and then continually adapt as situations change.” The core of these two ideas is problem solving, and how being a problem solver can open so many doors in someone’s life, and make a positive impact on society and in their own community.

There are no parameters set for who can be a changemaker, it can be anyone who desires to make a difference. This is an important value to Sundance Family Foundation, that there are no limits to who a person can become, no matter their background or upbringing. SFF strives to enable youth with the tools they need to be successful in their life, with a job they enjoy, while earning a good living. They endorse teaching the concept of entrepreneurship to young people, by route of using agile problem solving and entrepreneurial thinking in a job or apprenticeship. Employers want to hire problem-solvers, they want a workforce made up of changemakers, and as Drayton says in the article, “the challenge is to make everyone a changemaker. To do that, you start young.”

Think of the butterfly effect, where a minute change can have exponential impact elsewhere. Now think of a young girl, maybe in elementary school, who is taught to be a changemaker – to problem solve. As she grows up and interacts with countless people in her life, she will be a changemaker in everything she does, maybe teaching others to be changemakers themselves. Children are able to pick things up much more quickly than adults, in everything from language, to math, creativity, etc.

As workforce needs change with the advancement of technology, the approach to adulthood, education, and job training must also change and adapt in a way that will benefit the individual and the society. There are many people in this country that don’t feel equipped to take control of their lives and future, and instilling this confidence in young people is where Sundance Family Foundation truly has their heart. Working towards empowering and educating young people who may feel as though they are at a disadvantage when it comes to obtaining marketable skills, experiencing opportunities and network to advancement, no matter where they are located, whether it be urban, suburban, or rural. If we start teaching the younger generation to take charge of their own life and instill positive values and a yearning for positive impact, those young changemakers may eventually sit in the Oval Office or a senate seat.


The Sisterhood Boutique Celebrates Four Years of Empowering and Celebrating Young Women

The Sisterhood Boutique Celebrates Four Years of Empowering and Celebrating Young Women 

by Kailyn Hill

Four years ago, the Sisterhood Boutique opened its doors to the public and has been changing the lives of young women ever since, enabling them with useful business skills and preparing them for a better, more empowered future. As the Sisterhood Boutique approaches its fourth anniversary and third annual fashion show, their original goal of showing women what they can do on their own resonates even stronger today, as the idea of a sisterhood and the power and beauty of femininity is becoming increasingly prevalent in the media and everyday life.

On the homepage of the boutique’s website, it says, “The Sisterhood Boutique was developed by Kadra Fiqui and other East African women between the ages of 14 and 23 who reside in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis, and participate in the Brian Coyle Center Youth Entrepreneurship Program.” Not only does the boutique benefit the ladies who are a part of managing it, but it also provides affordable and stylish clothing to people in the community. The inventory varies as it is donation based, but regularly carries clothing with enough variety for women of all cultures to find something they love and can afford. Sisterhood recently expanded its inventory to include clothing for men as well.

The Sisterhood Boutique, located on a corner lot at 2200 Riverside Avenue, is a perfect example of the youth social entrepreneurship (YSE) programs that Sundance Family Foundation so passionately supports. Fiqui and her group of business minded East African friends gained inspiration and direction to launch their store after meeting Stella Richardson and other young women who developed a YSE start up clothing store in St. Paul called Express Youthself Clothing, a Keystone Community enterprise. Richardson, who is now part of the management team at Sisterhood Boutique, was instrumental in assisting with the boutique’s launch. Augsburg College School of Business, located across the street from the boutique, continues to provide management support, and Fairview Health Services donated the boutique’s coveted neighborhood corner lot space. Sisterhood Boutique provides opportunities to learn real-world skills regardless of background or upbringing, in the areas of entrepreneurial training, experiential learning, mentoring, job-shadowing, and leadership development activities.

The boutique offers three, 18-month internships that focus on entrepreneurship and business, college and career pathways, and civic engagement and leadership. There is a huge emphasis on one-on-one mentoring and relationship building with each intern. As each internship nears its end, they focus on creating a plan for each intern that incorporates their dreams and what they have learned to set them up for success in a future career. In four years, the boutique has gone from struggling to generate interest, to a waiting list for the internships with over 200 interns that have gone through the program.

Yasameen Sajady, the social enterprise manager at the Sisterhood Boutique said she is most proud of the summers there. They host Step-up internships throughout Minneapolis that allow them to “dive deeper into trainings, conversations and overall intern goals” said Sajady. They also offer sewing in the summer where the interns learn fundamentals and eventually more detailed parts of sewing clothing, in addition to delving more into civic engagement programs and conversations.

Youth social entrepreneurship programs like the one offered at The Sisterhood Boutique can be essential and are consequential for people from less represented communities. Programs in these local organizations not only have a positive impact on their communities they serve, but they also specifically reach out to youth who otherwise may not get to experience work readiness training, community engagement and life-skills development. Providing youth, especially minorities and women, with chances to learn real-life, marketable skills gives them an authentic opportunity to thrive in a good paying  21st century career. Sundance Family Foundation works tirelessly to find and support nonprofits that offer YSE related training programs. Sundance, in partnership with many community organizations, is also busy developing bridges and pipelines between older workforce ready YSE youth and employers eager to employ talented young adults. Busloads of youth and guardians along with YSE program directors are taken on tours to job sites, reverse tours are available for employers to visit YSE organizations in full swing, and experiential, wonder sparking job fairs called Wunderkammers are made available throughout the Twin Cities throughout the year.

The ladies of Sisterhood Boutique have been moving full-steam ahead in preparation for their Fashion Week that will culminate with the third annual fashion show. Preparing for the fashion show on March 20, 2018 at Augsburg  has meant working months in advance with partner organizations to ensure that fashions, accessories, work staff participants, entertainment, social media and marketing are ready to go. Sajady said mid-February “Last week a group of volunteers from the American Refugee Committee and Progressive North came in to paint the store, redesign our layout and offer advice to our interns about jobs, school and life in general.” The boutique then hosted an open house for members of the community to come enjoy some sweet treats and check out the new digs prior to the organized chaos of Fashion Week.

The third annual fashion show will also function as a fundraiser for the first time ever. Sajady said “We are trying to fund a photo studio to support e-commerce and also teach interns about photography, lighting and editing software.” There are events almost every day of Fashion Week leading up to the third annual fashion show. Not only will they be fun, but also affordable. Each event will be supporting great causes and the community. For more up-to-date details be sure to check out the Sisterhood Boutique Facebook page.

Fashion Week: March 12-20, 2018

Monday 3/12, 5-7pm: Pints 4 Pillsbury @ Surly Brewing

Tuesday 3/13, 5-7pm: Breakfast 4 Dinner @ Hi-Lo Diner

Wednesday 3/14, 5-7pm: $5 Spa Day @ Sisterhood Boutique

Thursday 3/15, 4-6pm: Open Mic Night @ Cedar Commons

Friday 3/16, 5-7pm: Alumni Karaoke Night @ Encore Karaoke

Tuesday 3/20, 6-8pm: 3rd Annual Fashion Show @ Augsburg University


January Wunderkammer Event Recap

January Wunderkammer Event Recap 

by Kailyn Hill

On Tuesday, January 30th, employers, training programs,  youth and guardians from the Twin Cities metro gathered in a sunlit room at the Minneapolis Workforce Center to participate in Sundance Family Foundation’s first Wunderkammer event of 2018. These tech and training exploratoriums are much more than an everyday job fair, with authentic and engaging connections and conversations happening all over the room throughout the day. Wunderkammer events are more inclusive and engaging job fairs, with a wider variety of fields represented. Skilled technician vendors are genuinely excited to be there and invite youth, guardians and program directors to experience activities that are representational of their work.

The event was an opportunity for youth to hear about potential jobs, trainings, internships, and apprenticeships that could lead to well-paying jobs in the future without needing to obtain a four-year degree. They learned that many of the jobs offer benefits, including health insurance and 401k plans, individual job security and opportunities for continued training, growth, and advancement. The idea behind a Wunderkammer is simple. It is an authentic and engaging learning experience between a technically trained vendor who is eager to share their knowledge with youth who are exploring opportunities for their future. A Wunderkammer is a curiosity shop, drawing youth into experiences to try out a new career activity, with the hope that this experience might ignite a natural wonder and passion for learning more about training and jobs in that particular field. “I’ve never seen a job fair like this.” said Derrell Mitchell, an intern at the Minneapolis Academy Career Center that runs out of 800 West Broadway, where the Wunderkammer event happened.

There are many well-paying career paths in the Twin Cities that go unnoticed for a myriad of reasons. Sundance is committed to steering the next generation of young adults toward the many options open to them. Wunderkammers are designed to bridge the gap between employers who have solid jobs available  to the talented workforce ready youth in need of living wage employment.  Many of the careers and training programs represented at the January 30th Wunderkammer event offered a specific plan for success for each employee. Colin Owens, a vendor from Emerge said,  “EMERGE offers a broad spectrum of services that include: Workforce Development trainings, Financial Wellness, Job Search and Resume Assistance, and MFIP Services. We partner with Medtronic to provide job opportunities to the communities we serve. In this partnership, we support interested jobseekers by preparing their resume, coaching them on applying for positions, and preparing them for their interview at Medtronic.” The need for new 21st century job careers in industries such as manufacturing, printing, mechatronics, IT and the health fields are high. These careers benefit individuals and families, employers, the community and the changing needs of our world.

Strolling through the January 30th Wunderkammer, hosted by Sundance Family Foundation, Hennepin County and the Minneapolis Workforce Training Center reminded one more of walking down the magical midway of a local county fair, rather than a traditional job fair. It was ablaze with vendors  brimming with excitement at the chance to speak with youth about opportunities available at their places of employment. Instead of pamphlet pushing across their tables, these technicians engaged with inquisitive career seekers through colorful, fun and manipulative activities that were representational of career-related jobs and tasks. Vendor conversations with youth were in-depth and effervescent. Unlike some job fairs, youth were as eager to speak with vendors as vendors were to engage with the youth.

Some of the vendor tables appeared to capture the hearts and interests of youth evoking a creative curiosity. Circuitry systems lit up, origami type boxes were assembled and made into towers displaying the concept of fractals used in engineering, and an impressive looking red and green lighted 3D printer   hummed away for hours. Tree Trust, a conservation enterprise designed for youth development and employment, provided those in attendance the opportunity to drill into boards while hearing about the importance of nature conservation and what it would be like to work in tree planting and conservation.

While youth were chatting with representatives from Andersen Corp about potential jobs in areas ranging from warehouse to window assembly, they were able to run their fingers through the brightly colored materials that go into making an acrylic window. One of the materials resembled hamster pellets, and is actually made from sawdust created at Andersen. Not only does Andersen care about providing employment opportunities, but they also place a large focus on being responsible when it comes to the environment.  Sundance Family Foundation is setting up a tour to the Andersen Corporation in March. Transportation will be made available. Youth, guardians and program directors are invited. Please contact Sundance Family Foundation at info@sundancefamilyfoundation.org or 612.822.8580 for more information. You can also learn more about jobs with Andersen at andersencareers.com.

The consistent hum of energy and conversation in the room reminded one of observing a hive full of alert, busy honey bees, all working together to achieve their honey making goal. In this same way, the vendors were all working together to steer youth toward their impassioned young adult lives. Truly, the room was abuzz with a communal sense of comradery, safety, inclusivity, agency, and wanting to better the community by investing in the lives of the next generation.

One of the most unique parts of Wunderkammer events is that they often feature employers from fields that are typically not thought of when teens and young adults are approaching the working world. There are many industries that are forgotten due to unfounded stereotypes, but the reality is that many jobs in construction, automotives and manufacturing for example, are now technical and skills-based, providing exciting and worthwhile jobs, quite different from the manufacturing floors of days past.

An industry that is plagued with an aging workforce and few young hands to fill their roles is the printing industry, sometimes called graphic communications. Two representatives at the January Wunderkammer event were from Printing Industry Midwest (PIM) and Flexo Tech. While hearing about the industry, youth could look at a digital microscope that showed the details of what printed materials look like, made up entirely of small dots. A tenth grade participant was overheard saying, “This is awesome!” Working with a printing press involves understanding the mechanics and science behind achieving a good print and the training is invaluable in an industry where there is opportunity for quick advancement. The graphic communications industry is high-tech, highly-skilled, and high-paying. Learn more about it at pimw.org

At the end of the day, hundreds of conversations were had, with endless valuable connections made across the industries and with youth in the Twin Cities who will soon be needing to decide on what to do with their lives. The Wunderkammer Tech and Training Exploratoriums are a wonderfully positive experience for young people, guardians, program directors, employers and post secondary training program directors. Wunderkammers give young people and their families a sense that the world is at their feet, and they can achieve the kind of life they desire. They leave employers and post secondary training program directors a positive sense that they are helping to open doors and shape the direction of the next generation.  The next Wunderkammer event will be held by the Vadnais Heights Economic Business Corporation and Sundance Family Foundation at the fun-filled, family-oriented NE Metro Community Business Expo on Sunday, April 29th from 11am-3pm.  It will be held at the Vadnais Heights Sports Complex vhedc.com You won’t want to miss it!


Here is a full list of the vendors from the January 30th Wunderkammer:

Appetite for Change, appetiteforchangemn.org

AIOIC Training Center, aioic.org

Andersen Corp, andersencorporation.com

BIX Produce, bixproduce.com

Boker’s, bokers.com

Century College, century.edu

Electrical Association, electricalassociation.com

Emerge, emerge-mn.org

Flagship Recreation, flagshipplay.com

GAF, gaf.com

Greatbatch Medical, greatbatch.com

Graco, graco.com

HIRED, hired.org

Indrotec, myindrotec.com

Japs-Olson Printing, japsolson.com

KMS Air Duct Cleaning, kmsclean.com

Miratec Systems, myratecsystems.com

Motor Club of America, motorclubamerica.net

Medtronic, medtronic.com

MN Department of Labor and Industry, Youth Division, dli.mn.gov

Printing Industry – Midwest (PIM), pimw.org

South Central College, southcentral.edu

Summit Academy OIC, saoic.org

Tree Trust, treetrust.org

TRIO, eao.org/mntrio

UMN, umn.edu

US Forestry Services, fs.fed.us

Digerati, Inc./Work Fountain, digerati.workfoundation.com

MAICC, miacc.org


An Expanded Youth Training Wage for Minneapolis and St. Paul

This article explores why a Youth Training Wage, as part of the Sustainable Wage ordinance in Minneapolis might be limiting, and how changes to it can be proposed for St. Paul. The Youth Training Wage supports nonprofit Youth Social Entrepreneurship (YSE) programming that integrates social and emotional development, community engagement, workforce readiness, and provides on-ramps to post-secondary career paths that empower youth to both thrive, and become part of our vibrant community. Proposed changes include an increased training period for year round programs, and a less accelerated increase to the prevailing sustainable wage.

An Expanded Youth Training Wage for Minneapolis and St. Paul

By Kailyn Hill

Until recent years, Minnesota had one of the lowest minimum wage rates in the nation. To keep up with the increased cost of living, in August 2016, the Minnesota statewide minimum wage rate was raised to $7.87 for small employers (under 100 employees), and $9.50 for large employers. Minneapolis, in October 2017, approved a Sustainable Wage with accelerated paths to reach $15/hr by 2019 for large employers and 2022 for small employers. The minimum wage in Minneapolis as of January 1, 2018 is $10 for all employers rising to $11.50 for large employers and $10.25 for small employers on July 1, 2018. In January 2018, St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter III said in his inaugural speech that he will also create a Sustainable Wage Ordinance; he asked the St. Paul Foundation to commission a study with the Citizens League to study the unintended consequences of Minneapolis’ Sustainable Wage ordinances.

For those who have ever worked, or currently work in a minimum wage job, raising their pay to $15 sounds like a financial breath of fresh air. While it is of the utmost importance that an individual working full-time can afford to move out of poverty, organizations that focus their training programs to teens living in low-income communities or in communities of color may not be able to continue to provide either the quality of their programing or support the number of youth served. There are about 50 nonprofit youth development programs serving more than 6,000 youth each year in the greater Twin Cities area that pay youth while they receive training and wages. These are not just summer programs, most offer year-round training to youth 14-24.

The current Minneapolis Sustainable Wage ordinance contains a Youth Training Wage amendment, but one that might be restrictive to YSE programs:

Employers participating in a city-approved training or apprenticeship program may pay program placements under 20 years old a minimum wage training rate of no less than 85% of the municipal minimum wage for no more than the initial 90 calendar days of their employment. A list of approved programs will be posted on the City of Minneapolis website.

The training program criteria includes very specific training and data requirements which are similar to the summer curriculum of the Minneapolis STEP-UP Youth programming. This criteria includes a 90-day limit for youth training with a leap at the end of the 90-day training period  from 85% to 100% of the prevailing city wage. These criteria may preclude youth from working in long-term training programs. They also require that all programs conform to the criteria outlined by the City of Minneapolis, and obtain approval and posting on the City’s website.

Nonprofit and philanthropic leaders are seeking an expansion of the Youth Training Wage in the Minneapolis ordinance, and are offering pro-active recommendations to the Citizens League, St. Paul Mayor, and St. Paul Council Members. A Youth Training Wage must indeed be a component of the Sustainable Wage ordinance. Common characteristics of nonprofit youth training programs serving youth ages 14-24 include a focus on building career competencies, nurturing soft skills, social emotional growth, a documented set of attained job skills, and evidence that youth are successfully working towards a career plan. However, holding all nonprofits to a 90-day training period when the entire program is a training program jeopardizes the programming costs and structure. As well, the 85% of the sustainable wage is not financial feasible without infusions of additional charitable dollars. A rise to 100% of the prevailing wages will challenge the existence of these programs.

Cookie Cart, with locations both in Minneapolis and St. Paul, is an example of a YSE non-profit youth training program that will be especially jeopardized by the Youth Training Wage as it is written. Cookie Cart is a non-profit bakery that provides teens with skills and experiences to benefit them as they enter adulthood and the working world. Not only do unskilled youth from low-income communities learn how to make cookies, about managing inventory and aspects of running a business, they have field trips to explore various career opportunities, and they get more connected in their community leading to relationships and references for the future. “About 60% of every youth wage supports youth skills development and exploration of career paths that are completely unrelated to baking and business.” says Executive Director Matt Halley. “The reason we are fine with this is that the program give youth the social and emotional (SEL) skills training that employers in our community want. We are in the business of baking bright futures.” Because programs like Cookie Cart do not function the way traditional businesses do, and focus on  mentoring, skills building, and community learning experiences, the new Youth Training Wage does not serve their needs or mission.

Every $1 increase in hourly wage will cost Cookie Cart an additional $30,000 per year. This is a substantial amount of funding for a non-profit to obtain, and would mean having to make changes, such as cutting the number of teens hired, cutting the amount of hours worked, or increasing the amount of cookie sales, or, shifting its focus from baking futures to bakery sales.

Sundance Family Foundation has both programmatic and grantmaking experience with Youth Social Entrepreneurship (YSE) nonprofits that integrate practices of positive youth development with community engagement and social entrepreneurship to enable mutual transformation of economies, neighborhoods, and individuals. Sundance grants about $400,000 a year to support these nonprofits, coordinates tours, arranges Wunderkammers, and champions innovative supports. As a result of a 2-year collaboration with Wilder Research, 14 YSE nonprofits now have the documentation and evidence-based research necessary to prove that they are model youth training wage programs.

According to the Founder and Executive Director, Nancy Jacobs,  “Sundance is advocating that a Youth Training Wage with a longer training period and a larger differential between the prevailing wage and the youth wage for certain identified programs be implemented both in Minneapolis and in St. Paul to allow these skilled nonprofits to continue guiding young people with technical, social, and emotional skills, and provide them opportunities to attain fulfilling careers with sustainable wages.”


Graco Tour and the Importance of Engagement

Graco Tour and the Importance of Engagement

October 12th, found  Sundance Family Foundation and the Minneapolis North leading youth from North Minneapolis high schools on a tour of Graco20161013_083938(0) Inc. This tour as a part of the  national, “Manufacturing Days”, featured Graco, a neighbor, as one of the over 2000 employers who opened their doors to youth, highlighting the vast array of opportunities found in an industrial vocation. Sponsors included the Minneapolis School District, Workforce Development, The Minnesota Center for Excellence in Manufacturing, and Sundance Family Foundation.

Our tour group began with students from Henry High School. This is the first tour that Sundance has facilitated with Minneapolis Public Schools faculty.

Of the eighteen youth in attendance, five were from after-school youth development programs called Youth Social Entrepreneurships. They included students enrolled in programs with  Appetite for Change, and Elpis Enterprises. Directors Paul Ramsor from Elpis 20161013_090946and Darryl Lindsey from Appetite for Change were on board for the interactive tour, as well. Youth Social Entrepreneurship (YSE) integrate practices of positive youth development with community engagement and social entrepreneurship. Youth learn while they earn, receiving opportunities to grow their knowledge of business management and entrepreneurial thinking,  leadership development, first time job skills, and learning to become leader representatives within their communities.

Our group was greeted with a warm reception from the Graco staff. This was their first effort hosting a tour for Manufacturing Days, and what an incredible job they did!

We were split into three smaller groups, each with a 30-minute tour of the production facility. This part of the tour focused on the products that Graco makes, but more importantly, the personable tour guides drew our focus to all the captivating machinery that was around us. Without exception, the youth were energized and engaged every moment of the tour.

After our stroll through this multi-million dollar robotics wonderland, we were brought to a space that housed a series of six stations with interactive20161013_092151 activities especially developed for the youth.These activities were designed to highlight a particular aspect of manufacturing success. There was a game that demonstrated supply chain thinking; and a station showing the importance of measuring. These spaces were not focused on “teaching” these skills, as much as allowing youth to “try them out.”

20161013_091842This approach is similar to the Sundance Wunderkammer model designed to engage youth at tech and training fairs in a more collaborative, interactive manner than traditional job fairs. The interactive design model is presented with the goal of evoking curiosity and awe, with
the hope that youth will be sparked to envision themselves working in a job or on a career path within a particular company or industry.

After working our way through the stations, our group
20161013_094130was brought to still another space that was set up with representatives from various trade schools and Graco HR staff. This, combined with donuts and sodas, ended the interactive tour on a memorable note for the teens from Minneapolis Public Schools. Graco Inc. accomplished greatness with the youth, conveying a sense of interest, high levels of skill development, innovation and pride, and showed various career paths available for a future employee at Graco. It could be heard by several youth, post tour, as they entered their school bus, “This would be a cool place to work.”

Cool, indeed. 

The Star and Tribune also recorded moments from this tour. You can find that story by following the link HERE.

YSE Alumni Spotlight Armani Black

YSE Alumni Spotlight: Armani Black


Armani Black is a YSE alumna who’s experienced many forms of success. She recently earned her B.S. degree in International Business and Management Information Systems from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. Armani has been awarded multiple internships and a fellowship, and studied abroad in several countries. She was President  of the National Association of Black Accountants her senior year of college, and currently works for the multi-billion dollar Fortune 500 Company Accenture, as a Technology Consulting Analyst.

Armani began her Youth Social Entrepreneurial journey as a youth intern at Urban Roots. This YSE organization, located on  St. Paul’s East Side, offers youth ages 14-21 training in Positive Youth Development, Social and Emotional Learning, and Community Engagement, through a focus on agricultural development.  Armani began  work with Urban Roots in their Market Garden program. This program teaches a cohort of youth to “plant, maintain, and harvest small-scale crop production within urban gardens.”


It might be confusing to some to connect this sort of agricultural training with entrepreneurial development. However, in addition to the gardening basics, Urban Roots folds youth into the management of the gardens, and the distribution of their crops to the community. This distribution takes many forms, including local Farmer’s Market sales, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) relations, selling locally-grown and prepared salads at Twins baseball games in the Roots for the Home Team program, and person-to-person negotiations with local chefs to meet the market needs of their restaurants. These programs are all youth-led, and often with peer-to-peer training. Urban Roots allows for youth to participate for more than one year, which gives the more experienced student workers the opportunity to train the new interns, while developing their own leadership skills.

When asked  if this type of managerial training helped with her current position, Armani told me that it did and so much of her success derived from “getting in there and doing the work.”  She had her fair share of hours of gardening on hot, summer days, which she believes equipped her with skills of patience, hard work, and teamwork. She often draws on these experiences to help guide her as a leader.

Armani shared a story about an internship that she had while in college. “It just wasn’t a good fit,” she explained. She described that it was not a bad company to work for and that other students might relish her position. However, she complained about the pace of the work being too slow. Armani told me, “I felt like I was wasting their money.” Amani was extended an offer to stay on after her internship, but she took a more entrepreneurial approach.  To get the highest return on her investment, she worked through the internship, doing more than was expected. Amani said, “I left on a great note, and got a reference that I used to get a position that is a better fit.”

Entrepreneurship is so often a combination of high level managerial awareness, leadership skills, risk taking, and problem solving, coupled with the trained ability to see any project through. At Urban Roots, Armani says she startedNABA to develop the skills and habits that got her to where she is, but also guided her thinking about where she hopes to go in the future. Because of her exceptional skills, once she accepted her offer of employment at Accenture, she was offered her choice of locations to work. Accenture has offices across the country and internationally; Armani made a choice for personal growth and moved to experience the American South. She told me it was a hard choice. She misses her family, but that what she is learning personally and professionally now will help her and her community when she returns in the future.

Sundance2We discussed what might have been missing from Armani’s YSE experience. She told me that she would have liked, “more collaboration with other YSE groups.” She said that learning and building skills with others in her program was fantastic, but that connecting with other programs more would have  allowed her to connect with other students across Minnesota who are making a difference in their communities and networking is key to development.

In other parts of the world, Armani points out, “YSE organizations are just called ‘nonprofits.’” She pointed out that these international organizations need a revenue generating component to their operation. This is not just to provide quality programing, but to simply survive. As she sees it, both she, these organizations, and other nonprofits, are greatly served with the adaption and development of an entrepreneurial vision.

You can learn more about Armani’s story. Particularly, what brought her to start working with YSE organizations. This story and others are featured in the documentary produced by the Sundance Family Foundation, Changemaker’s: Teens Who Learn and Earn, and featured on Twin Cities Public Television (TPT). To enjoy this video, please follow this link HERE

Manufacturing Career Interest in Manufacturing Month

Manufacturing Career Interest in Manufacturing Month

October 5th  found the Sundance Family Foundation partnering with Minneapolis North Workforce Center and the Minnesota Center for Excellence in Manufacturing, to bring 24 charter school students on a tour of one of Minnesota’s leading manufacturers, MME Group in Vadnais Heights.

The students came from Minnesota Internship Center (MNIC) and 800 Broadway School, both charter schools in North Minneapolis.

MME Group provided an incredible tour of the possibilities for careers in manufacturing as well as the various ways young people can begin their manufacturing journeys.

20161005_135718Brian Bussmann, company president and founder welcomed the students into MME Group Meeting Room to meet with a panel made up of HR personnel, managers, and Mr. Bussmann. Brian offered part of his professional story, with the other members of the panel (Jared, Jerry, and Tonya) offering theirs as well. From this presentation, we heard that some people can go to school right out of high school, some can get experience from other careers, and others can start
working in manufacturing as soon as they turn eighteen.20161005_135155

The panel opened up for a  round of questions. The questions differed, but the response of the student audience was pretty much the same after each questions. Some would ask something like, “How much would I start at?” which would be followed by an answer that surprised and pleased the group. “Depends on the job. Most in at entry level start at $14 an hour or so.” These answers were always 20161005_132912(0)followed by a moment of shocked silence, and then a quiet rumbling between the groups of friends that made up the school groups. One20161005_133704 young man after this questions called out, “Are you hiring?” A wave of awe went over the crowd as the HR director said, “Yes.”

Following the panel, our group was split up into three different groups. We all had the same tour path, but started at different points. The students were able to meet the people on the floor; Not just on the assemble line, but in the clean room and in the lab area. Students were able to talk with the tool makers and the people involved in higher precision work. Afterwards, it was clear many could see themselves in
these jobs.

20161005_133231MME Group was kind enough to offer their space, and  as an exercise, they gave us job applications for the students to fill out. There is something to be said about getting students used to filling out real applications at a real job site. . If they do it once they are likely to try it again. Filling out the apps might just lead to them actually turning them in. We will keep these groups in the fold regarding opportunities in industrial vocations. And, we will keep making connections with youth programs and these incredible companies.

Socially Responsible Investing (SRI)

Sundance Family Foundation is a nimble and progressive local private foundation with a mission to “strengthen youth development and support family stability.” Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) is an investment strategy that focuses on Environmental, Social and Governance criteria (ESG) to measure sustainability and ethical impacts of investments in a company or business. A triple bottom line investment looks for impact in these three areas, using internal and external screens as a broad set of concerns that measure return on investment. Factors such as employee discrimination policies (an internal screen) and avoidance of investing in traded companies with perceived social harm such as tobacco production (external screen) are examples of filters used for ethical decision making inherent in Socially Responsible Investing. This vehicle for driving philanthropic impact is endorsed by numerous investment houses throughout the world, as well as the U.S. based Mission Investors Exchange.   A glossary of Socially Responsible Investing terms compiled by the Mission Investors Exchange can be found here.  As well a downloadable PDF document funded by the H.B. Herron and developed by the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors is available here.

Social Responsible Investing Definitions

Socially Responsible Investing is similar to Mission Related Investing (MRI). MRI is a type or subcategory of an SRI. Both consider social, environmental and financial returns, employing various methods to achieve these returns. However, MRI is individually targeted to each individual organization’s specific mission, and, is actively using investing as a means to furthering the individual organization’s mission. The institution’s core values are directly connected to its financial activities.

The Mission Investors Exchange (MIE) provides resources for foundations and other organizations that use investments as tools for achieving their values based philanthropic goals. MIE is a resource for more than 200 foundations and other organizations.

Founder and Sundance Family Foundation President Nancy Jacobs along with an engaged Sundance Board of Directors, strives toward triple bottom line impact as the Foundation adheres to a values-based, empowerment model of philanthropy. This investment strategy is also exemplified through Sundance’s supportive grantmaking to Youth Social Entrepreneurial (YSE) organizations, and through its work to develop the YSE Twin Cities ecosystem. Sundance also works to leverage community initiatives by joining forces with philanthropic, private and government partners.

Values Based Investing (another term for Socially Responsible Investing) can be advanced through other methods which Sundance also employs including:

  • Program Related Investments (PRI) and other community loans
  • Purchasing economic goods and services from local vendors, especially those from under-resourced communities
  • Banking through a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and joint capital investments
  • KIVA International micro financing and other loans and programs that connect entrepreneurs in developing countries through the Internet with their local lenders
  • Microfinance loans

The Sundance Family Foundation has joined the ranks of national leaders by investing the largess of the Foundation’s assets into triple bottom line Mission Investment Funds. Click here to discover a bit more about social impact investing around the country.

The impact of Sundance’s strong investment policy has served the foundation and the global community in four important ways:

  1. Sundance’s mission investments leverage grantmaking impact by actively investing corpus dollars into domestic and global funds that create community redevelopment, including housing and job creation
  2. Sundance’s investments give Shareholder Advocates powerful advocacy opportunities to expose unethical corporate policies and practices, and promote internal and external social changes in historic and profound ways through proxy voting, direct dialogue with corporate executive leadership, influencing the development of public policy, and positive impact on company policies, practices and performance. Their effective influence on corporate change produces industry-wide positive improvements
  3. Socially Responsible Investing enhances the impact of the Foundation’s grantmaking dollars exponentially by investing in community redevelopment efforts
  4.  Sundance has secured a financial Return on Investment (ROI) that is consistently commensurate with or exceeds standard market rate benchmark indices


The Minnesota Council on Foundations published an article in the Spring 2014 Newsletter featuring the Sundance Family Foundation as follows:

The Sundance article in Giving Forum: http://www.mcf.org/news/giving-forum/sundance-impact

SRI Investing: A View from an Investment Manager piece: http://www.mcf.org/system/asset_manager_pdfs/0000/4034/sri_extra.pdf

Both articles are linked from the Spring 2014 Giving Forum page on the MCF site: http://www.mcf.org/news/giving-forum/spring-2014


How to Develop a Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) Program for Your Foundation


The Sundance Family Foundation was established to support and strengthen family stability worldwide and has a particular focus on supporting projects that encourage youth social entrepreneurship.  In the summer of 2009, Sundance embarked on a quest to incorporate socially responsible investments into their investment program.  Socially responsible investing (SRI), also known as sustainable, socially conscious, “green” or ethical investing, is any investment strategy which seeks to consider both financial return and social good.  Sundance wanted to invest their assets more in alignment with their core values and to make a positive impact on the world with their investments.  This is a recap of how Sundance has pursued this socially responsible investment strategy over the past several years in collaboration with an independent, fee-only registered investment advisory firm.  Both parties have learned much as they have built an investment program for Sundance that is in alignment with their mission, their core values and their socially responsible investment (SRI) mandate.

The Sundance investment committee decided to search for an investment advisor to help them to develop a socially responsible investment program.  They wanted to pursue a comprehensive and disciplined investment approach to ethical investing which combines prudent investment management (including diversification to manage risk and the objective to earn market returns) with the equally important goal to “do good” with their money.

Allodium Investment Consultants is an independent fee-only registered investment advisory firm based in Minneapolis.  Allodium understands that socially responsible investment preferences are by definition going to be unique to the core values that are present in a foundation or endowment investment portfolio.

Initial Inquiry at Allodium

In September of 2009, Allodium was approached by Sundance to help with socially responsible investing.  Sundance wanted to develop a socially responsible investment strategy and to get their investments in alignment with their core values.   In the initial call to Allodium, the Allodium team agreed to help Sundance to clearly define and document the socially responsible goals and preferences of the Foundation.  In a subsequent meeting with the Sundance investment committee, Allodium listened to the needs of the organization and agreed to help Sundance to clarify their investment objectives and to help them to design and develop an investment program that would get their investments in alignment with their SRI investment preferences.  Sundance shared that they wanted to “do good” with their money and “avoid the evil” by not funding companies that are destroying the world.  They wanted to use their money to make the world a better place.

Allodium worked with Sundance to help them to define what they meant to pursue “socially responsible investments”.  Allodium uses a values questionnaire that helps an investment committee to clarify and define each investor’s unique socially responsible investment preferences.   Allodium summarized the results of the completed questionnaire for Sundance and developed a matrix of the key socially responsible investment preferences to avoid and/or to emphasize.  From the analysis of the socially responsible investment questionnaire, the Allodium team learned that the socially responsible investment priorities for the Sundance investment committee revolved around making investments in companies that are protecting the environment, promoting economic development and community development as well as providing financing for low income housing, while at the same time “screening out” companies that have poor business practices that harm society at large.

The primary benefit provided by the investment consultant at this initial stage was to listen to the investment committee, to document what they said and to reflect back to the investment committee what they were saying.  Allodium was then able to develop an investment plan that was tailored to the needs of the Sundance Family Foundation.

Allodium believes that fiduciary investors can balance socially responsible investing with fiduciary best practices.  While listening to the priorities of the Sundance investment committee, Allodium documented two specific investment goals for Sundance:

  1. Broad diversification.  The investment committee defined broad diversification as a key goal and wanted to implement as many socially responsible investment strategies as could be achieved within the parameters of investing with broad diversification to manage investment risk.   Allodium strives to help fiduciary investors to fulfill their fiduciary obligations under the law.   This decision to diversify by asset class helped the investment committee to fulfill their fiduciary duty to be prudent in their investment decision-making process.
  2. Competitive Market returns.  The investment committee did not want to add socially responsible investment strategies at the expense of achieving market returns.  The investment committee wanted to incorporate socially responsible investments while earning competitive, market returns on their investments.

Successful investing has a lot to do with the concept of avoiding mistakes.  Socially responsible investment strategies may actually lead to an investment decision-making process that minimizes the number of problems related to the environment, social issues like work place policies and corporate governance.   A socially responsible investment strategy may actually lead to a reduction in certain types of investment risk over time.  If socially responsible investing actually reduces the number of problems in an investment portfolio, this reduction in mistakes could potentially lead to enhanced investment performance over long periods of time.

At this point in the process, the Allodium team drafted an investment policy statement for Sundance that documented the investment objectives for the Foundation as well as a specific paragraph that described their socially responsible investment mandate.

Phase One:  Equity Mutual Funds and Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs)

Allodium is independent of the traditional Wall Street banks and brokerage firms to eliminate the conflicts of interest related to proprietary investment products.  This allows Allodium to search for investments that are in alignment with the unique investment goals and preferences of investment committees using an open architecture approach that includes all possible investment options for the foundation.

The initial thrust of the Sundance SRI Investment strategy was implemented primarily with domestic equity mutual funds and exchange traded funds (ETFs) because the domestic equity asset class has the most choices for SRI investments.  The Morningstar database currently has approximately 27,000 individual investment choices in their mutual fund and exchanged-traded fund universe. Of that fund universe, only 466 funds are currently categorized as SRI choices (approximately 2% of the fund choices).   The challenge at this point was to help the Sundance investment committee to develop a process to screen the SRI investment managers to identify a smaller set of suitable investments for the foundation.  Allodium used the fi360 Toolkit (www.fi360.com) to screen the specific funds on nine due diligence criteria to reduce the fund choices to a more manageable subset of the SRI fund universe.

SRI investors can choose from both active investment managers and lower cost passive investment managers.  In the course of the due diligence research process, Allodium found active domestic large cap SRI equity investment managers at established SRI investment firms such as Parnassus Investments and Calvert Investments.  The due diligence research also uncovered several passive strategies such as exchange traded index funds from investment companies such as iShares and low cost institutional mutual funds from Dimensional Fund Advisors.

The international equities asset class proved to be more difficult due to a limited number of high-quality choices but investment firms like Boston Common Asset Management have introduced commingled accounts and mutual funds to provide international equity exposure for SRI investors.  These new vehicles provide SRI investors the opportunity to diversify with international equities to help to manage investment risk with broad diversification.

At the end of phase one, Sundance had accomplished 13% exposure to pure SRI investments.

Phase Two:  Fixed Income Mutual Funds and Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs)

After the initial implementation phase with domestic and international equity mutual funds and exchange-traded funds, Sundance wanted to be more proactive with their fixed income investments.  Their focus turned to professional investment managers who would be more active lending in low income communities that would encourage community development and redevelopment.  Allodium was able to identify several mutual fund managers who were making investments in low income communities to provide more capital to urban areas that need low cost capital.  Community Capital Management and Access Capital Community Investment are fixed income investment firms that provide investment capital in urban areas that need funding for low income housing and urban redevelopment.  Sundance learned that some of the best impact investments with high social impact happen to be in the fixed income arena.

To complement the community redevelopment funds that focused on proactive investment in low income urban communities, Sundance also wanted to find fixed income investment managers that would be able to screen out poorly rated investments similar to the screening out process that the SRI equity managers were using.  Allodium was excited to uncover unique SRI fixed income strategies from both mutual fund companies like Praxis and separately account managers like Breckinridge Capital Advisors that provided the capability to screen out specific types of unattractive investments.

At the end of phase two, Sundance had increased their exposure to 30% SRI investments.

Phase Three:  Professionally Managed Separately Managed Accounts (SMAs)

Up until this time, primarily mutual funds were being used by the Foundation due to the ease of access to mutual funds subject to relatively low investment requirements.  The Sundance Family Foundation received a major contribution to the foundation in 2013 that allowed for the investment committee to consider new types of investment vehicles such as separately managed accounts which have higher minimum account sizes but which also have the ability to invest in individual securities that are more in alignment with the SRI objectives of the foundation.  Interest in moving beyond mutual funds and into separately managed accounts (SMAs) took shape when Sundance learned that a separately managed account manager like Breckinridge Capital Advisors for fixed income could not only screen out investments that did not pass environmental, social and governance (ESG) screens but that they actually had the capability to target their investments in specific geographic areas and or sectors of the economy that could provide high positive impact in ESG factors.  Separate account managers have a much greater opportunity to invest in individual companies that are cooperative in SRI shareholder resolutions and collaborate with socially responsible investors.

Sundance felt that they had fulfilled their fiduciary obligations by building a broadly diversified and socially responsible investment portfolio, but the Sundance board of directors wanted something more – to have even more positive impact on society and the environment with their liquid assets.  The Sundance investment committee challenged their investment advisor to seek out professional investment managers who would be able to engage in shareholder advocacy and public policy work.  Sundance had built a portfolio that was good at screening out unattractive investments but the investment committee wanted to pursue a more proactive socially responsible investment strategy with more social impact.

Sundance Family Foundation learned how to generate high impact with shareholder advocacy in a liquid investment strategy by utilizing separately managed accounts.  Sundance learned about the methods that can be used by impact investors to effect positive social change through shareholder advocacy by engaging the professional investment management firms that are engaged in shareholder advocacy for impact investors.  They learned that they can leverage the power of stock ownership to promote social and environmental change by engaging in shareholder advocacy for environmental, social and governance factors.

Allodium learned about practical socially responsible investment solutions via networking with other foundations and endowments both in the local community and also at national investment conferences.  Also, in October, 2013, Allodium attended the annual SRI Conference in Colorado Springs, Colorado with the primary objective to identify the professional investment managers engaged in shareholder advocacy.

Working with Allodium, Sundance was ultimately able to identify and retain a number of professional separate account managers who are actively engaged in shareholder advocacy which includes proxy voting, filing shareholder resolutions, engaging in company dialogues and influencing the development of public policy.  Client-centric SRI solutions include separate account managers at Trillium Asset Management, Zevin Asset Management and Breckinridge Capital Advisors.  Sundance understands the benefits of separately managed accounts and has been fully engaged with the opportunity to engage in shareholder advocacy and the opportunities with the separate account managers to add emphasis to a particular investment sector.

After implementing the SRI separately managed accounts and adding to existing SRI mutual funds and ETFs, Sundance had achieved 80% SRI exposure and was positioned to investigate the opportunities in more illiquid impact investment strategies.

Phase Four:  Illiquid Impact Investments

The Sundance committee has challenged Allodium to find illiquid investments that will have even greater positive social impact, often called “double bottom line” or “triple bottom line” investments.  Liquid investments are typically publicly-traded, daily liquid investments like mutual funds, exchange traded funds, index funds, and individual stocks and bonds which are easy to liquidate and easy to benchmark with common market benchmarks and indices.  Illiquid investments offer some interesting opportunities for high impact but also might create difficulties with minimal daily liquidity, a lack of valuations at daily market prices and higher costs.

Sundance is interested in exploring the potential to have even greater social impact with illiquid impact investments.  Allodium has recommended that Sundance compare the benefits of liquid versus illiquid social impact investments.  While there are some disadvantages to illiquid investments, high impact investors may want to incorporate high social impact investments into their portfolio.

High impact, illiquid investments are the new frontier and provide some interesting opportunities for socially responsible investors who want to have a great positive impact on the world with their investments.  Allodium has been monitoring illiquid impact investment databases such as Impact Assets and Mission Investors to search for unique investments that are in alignment with the Sundance SRI mandate.

Illiquid impact investments are sometimes high cost, may provide low returns and a lack of disclosure that may lead to a lack of transparency that makes prudent investment decision-making more difficult.  Also, the lack of historical performance data may make this type of investing seem like a venture into a highway turnpike in the middle of a dense fog.  It is appropriate that investors move with caution and be deliberate to minimize the chances for costly mistakes.

Sundance decided to limit their initial allocation to illiquid, high impact investments to 10% of their overall portfolio and to insist upon at least quarterly valuations to provide for some opportunity to monitor the investment performance of these investments.  They decided that it is important to have performance data on illiquid impact investments and to receive periodic investment reports with accurate valuations so they can track progress and make informed decisions about their investments.  Allodium also recommended a diversified and professionally-managed portfolio of illiquid high impact investments to provide some additional risk management to minimize the risk of loss.


Socially responsible investing is becoming main stream and practical.  This is clearly a burgeoning field and the future of investing will incorporate the ideas being developed by leading socially responsible investors.  Leaders in the nonprofit community like Sundance are leading with their actions.  You can also pursue investment strategies that are in alignment with your core values.  You just need to take the first step.

Nancy Jacobs is the co-founder and President of the Sundance Family Foundation which supports family stability both globally and locally, as well as projects that encourage youth social entrepreneurship.

The Sundance Family Foundation is harnessing and deploying 90% their capital into Socially Responsible Impact Investing strategies that do good for more.