grant making

058, Jennifer Ford Reedy, Bush Foundation | Inspire, Equip, Connect

Jen Ford Reedy grew up in Lawrence, KS, a college town. She knew from a young age that she wanted to do something meaningful with her life. As an adult, she spent 9 years as a consultant with McKinsey & Company where she honed her strategic business skills. In 2008 she moved into philanthropic work first as VP of Strategy with Minnesota Philanthropy Partners. In 2012 she moved into the role of President of the Bush Foundation. It’s a role that seems to suit her blend of keen strategic insights and a heart for good.

The Bush Foundation is an independent, private philanthropic foundation. It was created in 1953 by Archibald Bush, one of the people who built 3M to the success it is today. They have a broad mandate, but of course, Jen understands that every choice made has an opportunity cost. Together with her staff and her board they make careful choices about how to best use their resources.

They have a very active and productive fellowship program. They also have a number of grant programs available:

  • The Bush Prize for Community Innovation
  • Community Creativity Cohort
  • Community Innovation Grants
  • Education Ecosystem Grants
  • Leadership Network Grants
  • Major Investments – Education
  • Native Nation Rebuilding Grants.

The Bush Foundation focuses on Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and 23 native nations.

 Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Jenn Ford Reedy:

“There are very few charitable institutions that have the degree of flexibility that we have.”

“Philanthropic strategy is all about opportunity cost.”

“We think of our work as investing in great ideas and the people who power them.”

“When we talk about purpose, we talk about inspiring and supporting creative problem solving.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”We talk about ‘inspire, equip and connect.’ @fordreedy of @BushFoundation”]

“Consider intrapreneurship.”

“Surround yourself with a group of people who will be honest with you on what you need to work on.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”Make the world your learning lab. @fordreedy of @BushFoundation“]

“If you can boil down, ‘what are the competencies I need’ and then think creatively about how you can get them, I think you can actually, for zero dollars per day, have a pretty good training program.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

058, Jennifer Ford Reedy, Bush Foundation | Inspire, Equip, Connect

022, Sasha Fisher, Spark MicroGrants | Driving Change Through Empowerment

Where were you on September 11, 2001? If you were more than three years old at the time, there’s a good chance that you remember. Sasha Fisher grew up about five blocks from “ground zero.” At the time, Sasha was in middle school. This event caused Sasha to begin to think outside of her neighborhood, her city and even her country. She began to learn about people around the world who could not meet their most fundamental basic needs.

As a college student, Sasha had a chance to visit South Sudan where she observed a disturbing pattern. Outside aide organizations had started many projects which were not sustained after the aid agencies left. And, the local community was not empowered in the process. Sasha began to think that there had to be a better way.

Spark MicroGrants has worked with 126 villages across four countries in east Africa. Spark supports rural poor communities to design, implement and manage their own social impact projects. They provide microgrants between $2,000 and $10,000 to enable project implementation, such as of a school, electricity line or farm. No interest or repayment of the funds granted is requested.

Does it work? Spark MicroGrants see a 92% sustainability rate for their projects, which is unheard of in development projects. Also, after a community launches the initial project with the help of Spark MicroGrants, the local community launch a second project on their own, showing that they can sustain the process. 97% of the villages continue to stay organized after the initial grant process.


022, Sasha Fisher, Spark MicroGrants | Driving Change Through Empowerment