We believe our city has the talent, resources, and knowledge it needs to realize a future where every young person has an equal chance to live a thriving and successful life. We believe natural leaders exist on every block and in every neighborhood and ought to influence the decisions and policies that impact their lives.

Through our initiatives, the Graves Foundation intends to seek out and listen to local leaders, elevate their voices, and support those leaders as integral partners in community decision-making.

With those leaders, we focus on addressing the structures and institutions impacting families and youth in our community every day. Our initiatives engage systems in all of our goal areas; as of early 2020, we are working in school districts, the child welfare system, cultural arts districts, and, affordable housing.

How do we do it? Relationships. Coalition-building. Asking hard questions in rooms full of powerful people. Convenings. Individual coaching and support. Financial investments. Relationships. Making professional connections across fields. Talking to neighbors and CEOs alike. Have we mentioned relationships?

We build intentional relationships with elected leaders and government staff who can make change happen. We seek entrepreneurial individuals with community-based solutions to community-specific challenges. We co-create start-ups and government pilot initiatives. We coach emerging leaders and connect established leaders across field to find innovative solutions big and small, share best practices, and impact changes to benefit the youth of our community.

Peris Hill Housing

Peris Hill Housing pairs affordable housing with education and independent living skills for young adults aging out of the foster care system. The Peris Hill building will offer 45 total studio and one-bedroom units: 15 supportive units for young adults in extended foster care aged 18-21, alongside 30 permanent, affordable units that preference income-eligible adults aged 30 and under. Training, support and wraparound services will be provided by Connections 2 Independence and The Link.

Minneapolis Educator Leadership Awards

The Minneapolis Educator Leadership Awards (MELA) were created to recognize Title I Minneapolis Public School District teachers and others working regularly with students in a school, such as principals, paraprofessionals, and support staff, for their leadership inside and outside the classroom. In partnership with AchieveMPLS, we seek to recognize and elevate professionals working hard to educate our children. 

Advancing Equity Coalition

The Advancing Equity Coalition is a group of community organizations and stakeholders focused on ensuring that as Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) moves through its Comprehensive District Design (CDD) process, it centers the students most marginalized and underserved by our current system. We believe that the CDD must focus on equitably distributing and improving resources, services and outcomes for students of color in order to accomplish its goals of offering all students in MPS an outstanding education.