Carolyn Foundation has been making foundation-initiated grants for the past 20 years. These grants support our existing grantmaking priorities: Mitigating Climate Change in the upper Midwest, Community Vitality and Children and Youth in New Haven, CT and Minneapolis, MN.

We’ve found long-term strategic grants the best way to make a meaningful difference by addressing root causes and effecting long-term systemic change. Therefore we intend to continue to grow this part of our grantmaking as promising opportunities arise.

For Carolyn Foundation, promising opportunities are:

  • Aligned with our existing funding priorities
  • Opportunistic vs. Foundation manufactured
  • Grounded in community needs assessment and/or systems mapping
  • Systems change addressing root causes
  • Aligned & committed partners
    • Impacted community members
    • Relevant process holders & service providers
    • Foundations and funders
  • Sustained over time


Environmental Grantmaking

In 2004 Carolyn Foundation was one of 24 charter members of RE-AMP. The RE-AMP Network has grown to over 175 nonprofits and foundations across eight Midwestern states working on climate change and energy policy with the goal of reducing global warming pollution economy-wide 80% by 2050. This process began with a detailed systems mapping project to identify priorities and align collective action.

Carolyn’s responsive grantmaking guidelines have supported the shared RE-AMP goal since the network was formed. In 2017, we realized we could make a greater impact by funding a few key RE-AMP partners for an extended period of time. Several past grantees were invited to respond to an RFP for multi year funding. The grant recipients are:

CURE (Clean Up The River Environment): Organizing citizens to restore protect the Minnesota River Basin

Fresh Energy: Leading the Transition to Clean Energy

ELPC (Environmental Law & Policy Center): Protecting the Midwest’s Environment and Natural Heritage

Children & Youth Grantmaking

MNComeback: Rigorous & relevant schools for all students
Carolyn has been a partner in this work from the very beginning in 2014 with a details community involved systems mapping process to identify key needs, constituents, levers for change and building a shared mission and theory of change.

ALIVE: Creating Trauma-Informed Schools
Carolyn learned of the Alive program on at site visit in New Haven, CT when it had been highly successful in improving school climate and building resilience in students who have experience significant trauma. Knowing that schools and children in Minneapolis faced the same issues we invited Alive share their program in Minneapolis. Carolyn Foundation, the Sauer Family Foundation and Alive have partnered to introduce the program at The Mastery School in Minneapolis. In addition, three other schools in the Twin Cities have launched this program – all with promising results.

Impact Investing

Carolyn Foundation currently holds $4 million in social impact generating bonds in Minneapolis, MN and New Haven, CT. Our primary interests are in affordable housing, clean energy and education. Our other investment holdings have gone through screens to assure that we are not unwittingly holding investments that run counter to our priorities, particularly our Climate Change objectives.