Resources & opportunities in our region

Ecosystem Organizations

Check out this list of organizations that are helping others problem solve in their communities.

We support these organizations through our Ecosystem program. They are recognized in their communities as go-to resources, infrastructure or intermediary organizations, or simply, just can’t do without organizations. We call them Ecosystem organizations because they create the environment needed for organizations and leaders to solve problems.

Organizations listed here provide resources, grant opportunities, leadership resources and more.

2023 Ecosystem Organizations

African American Leadership Forum (AALF) builds and supports networks of leaders within the African American community. They connect leaders across sectors and issue areas impacting the African American community, such as economics, health and education.

Arts South Dakota is a non-partisan and nonprofit service organization that aims to connect South Dakota’s geographically isolated arts leaders and creatives; provide professional development and learning opportunities specific to arts leaders; and provide a unified voice for pro-arts policy and government support. Their programs include Arts Education Institute, Arts Advocacy Day, State Arts Conference and Arts Leadership Institute. 

Aurora Institute is a national organization that lifts up promising ideas to transform public K-12 education. They produce research and reports about student-centered learning, and they lead and support legislative efforts at the state and federal level. The Aurora Institute Symposium is the field’s largest gathering of education innovators working to transform K-12 education. 

Center for Economic Inclusion (CEI) brings together cross-sector partners to work towards regional prosperity and to foster an inclusive economy. They collect and publish data, host events and provide technical assistance to organizations ready to transform their practices. 

Center for Rural Policy & Development provides nonpartisan research and evaluation to support policymaking on a wide range of issues that impact Greater Minnesota. They survey thought leaders across the state; provide critical data collection and analysis; and advocate at the state level on issues important to rural communities. 

Citizens League is a nonpartisan organization that works to involve Minnesotans in policymaking. They frequently play the backbone role in collective work to address policy issues in addition to their own policy work that seeks innovative solutions to difficult issues through inclusive, cross-sector, multi-partisan processes. They also host events and operate an internship program for Black, Indigenous and people of color college students to work in policy positions. 

Coalition of Asian American Leaders (CAAL) has created a network of more than 5,000 leaders spanning 24 of Minnesota's 40+ Asian ethnic groups, working in all sectors and representing multiple generations. CAAL’s work focuses on education, economics and immigration, with policy strategies developed through workgroups of leaders. They also provide research and mobilize community members around priorities. 

Catalyst is a consortium of five community development corporations that provide resources for minority-owned businesses in the Twin Cities metro area and Greater Minnesota. Working together in this way enables Catalyst to better support BIPOC-led businesses in Minnesota and provide resources like the MN Inclusive Growth Fund. Participating organizations include: Metropolitan Economic Development Association (MEDA), Northside Economic Opportunity Network (NEON), Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC), African Economic Development Solutions (AEDS), and Community Reinvestment Fund, USA (CRF). Contact the participating organizations for information. 

Consensus Council helps groups in North Dakota with differing opinions craft creative solutions to address community challenges. Using a consensus model of decision-making, they facilitate inclusive conversations around difficult topics, resulting in agreements that empower people, transform communities and advance public good. 

CTB (formerly the Center for Technology in Business) is a certified entrepreneurial center in North Dakota. They offer a number of programs focused on business development, including the North Dakota Women’s Business Center. They also operate the Women’s Leadership Program that supports leadership development and connectivity in North Dakota. 

Dakota Resources is a capacity provider that primarily supports small, rural communities in South Dakota. They operate a variety of programs to support community development in towns across the state, including providing financial support, training, technical assistance and supporting leadership networks. 

Education Evolving is an advocacy organization with a mission that aligns well with our education work. They produce reports about student-centered learning, advocate for policy at the Minnesota legislature, work on teacher licensing issues and host the annual SCL4E (Student-Centered learning for Equity) convening each spring. 

Emerging Prairie supports the entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem in North Dakota. Programs include Prairie Capital Summit, which works to grow private capital investment in the Midwest; StartupBREW, a weekly event to support entrepreneurs in Fargo; and TEDxFargo. 

First Peoples Fund works to support those who see art and culture as ways to strengthen Native communities. They provide direct support through grants to Native artists, culture bearers and the organizations that support them. They provide trainings that 1,500+ Native artists have attended, and they conduct national research and develop reports on investing in the Indigenous arts ecology. 

Impact Foundation focuses on capacity building for nonprofits throughout North Dakota. Their programs include the Impact Institute that annually teaches 300+ attendees; one-on-one coaching on fundraising; Giving Hearts Day; and assistance to grassroots causes and community projects by managing their donations and reporting. 

Indian Land Tenure Foundation is a national organization focused on land reclamation as central to tribal sovereignty. They conduct critical data collection and analysis on issues related to tribal lands. They work with tribes on projects to expand land ownership and to create economic benefit from land holdings. They also educate and work for policy change related to tribal land stewardship. 

KnowledgeWorks is a national organization that advocates for more personalized, competency-based learning through policy and practice. They conduct research, produce reports and work to influence state and federal policy makers. They also support schools and districts to implement more competency-based learning through their capacity-building partnerships and networks. 

LatinoLEAD is a cross-sector networking organization for Latinx professionals. They create action teams to address issues related to Latinx communities in Minnesota, with particular focus on leadership development, education reform, and supporting Latinx communities in Greater Minnesota. 

Minnesota Council of Nonprofits (MCN) is a statewide service organization that supports nonprofit organizations by providing a wide range of services: training, events, job boards, technical assistance and a shared health benefit plan. They also provide data and advocate for policy related to issues impacting nonprofits. 

Minnesota Council on Foundations (MCF) supports a philanthropic community that connects, strengthens and mobilizes the power of philanthropy to advance prosperity and equity in Minnesota. They provide several capacity-building opportunities and mobilize the power of philanthropy through advocacy and by organizing pooled funding efforts. 

Minnesota Design Center is a national leader in design thinking. They work with nonprofits and municipalities to apply design thinking to solve challenges. They support efforts to design or redesign policies and systems, guided by stakeholder input, to better serve community needs. 

Minnesota Education Equity Partnership (MNEEP) works to improve outcomes for both students of color and Indigenous students. They provide several capacity-building programs and tools, advocate for policy issues at the state and local levels and are a go-to support organization for others wanting to improve education equity. 

Native Nations Institute is a nationwide, go-to organization for research on Native nation building and tribal governance. They are a resource for tribes, policymakers and community changemakers through their education programs and research and analysis of governance and development in Native communities. 

Native Ways Federation promotes more equitable philanthropy and donor education in support of Native-led solutions. They raise awareness and support for Native communities; grow the effectiveness of Native nonprofits; and ensure high ethical standards for nonprofits serving Native communities. 

Nexus Community Partners offers several leadership development and capacity-building programs including: the Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute (BLCI), which helps train Black, Indigenous and people of color leaders to serve on boards and commissions; and the Nexus Community Engagement Institute, which helps organizations develop more effective and authentic strategies to engage the communities they serve. 

North Dakota Human Rights Coalition (NDHRC) supports organizing, policy advocacy and public education on human rights issues relevant to North Dakota’s LGBTQ+ and Black, Indigenous and people of color communities. They coordinate a broad-based coalition of individuals and organizations interested in advancing human rights through information, education, and legislative action. 

North Dakota State University Extension provides science-based education opportunities for adults in North Dakota. Their programs include: Lead Local, a one-day training for aspiring, elected and appointed leaders serving on boards, councils and committees; Rural Leadership North Dakota; and the Extension Soil and Water Conservation Leadership Academy. 

North Dakota Compass is a research project used by leaders across sectors throughout the state of North Dakota to make data-informed decisions in their planning efforts. Their work provides objective, nonpartisan data collection and analysis; data-literacy education; and expert research support. 

PFund Foundation’s Equity Fund for Queer Entrepreneurs of Color works to strengthen the region’s queer economic ecosystem, and the PRISM Fund supports rural-serving queer organizations in the Upper Midwest. Both are programs of PFund Foundation, which advances public understanding on issues facing queer citizens and promotes equity for LGBTQ+ communities by providing grants and scholarships, developing leaders and inspiring giving. Through our Ecosystem program, we provide operating support that helps them to support others to solve problems in their communities.

Propel Nonprofits is an intermediary and community development financial institution that supports nonprofits primarily in Minnesota. They provide a number of capacity-building services and access to capital. They also serve as fiscal sponsor for organizations that do not yet have 501c3 status. 

Reviving the Islamic Sisterhood for Empowerment (RISE) provides unique supports for Muslim women leaders through leadership development, capacity building, inspiring storytelling and advocacy. One of their primary programs, Muslim Women in Nonprofit Leadership, is an incubation program that provides training for emerging leaders and helps supply a leadership pipeline for organizations across sectors in Minnesota. 

Social Enterprise MSP (SE-MSP) works to develop a purpose-driven economy in the Twin Cities. They are an alliance of nonprofits and businesses building networks, providing education, hosting events, and advocating for legislation to support the growth of social purpose businesses. 

Souris Basin Planning Council specializes in supporting small business and economic development organizations in rural, underserved North Dakota communities. They also advance policy solutions by advocating for change at the local, state and federal levels. 

Springboard for the Arts supports artists with tools to make a living and to make a positive difference for communities. They provide business development assistance, create toolkits for artists, support rural arts development efforts, offer fiscal sponsorship and operate leadership programs and fellowships. They have offices in Fergus Falls and Saint Paul. 

Tiwahe Foundation is a community foundation that works to bridge disparities in opportunities and outcomes in Native American communities. They support individuals and organizations through direct resourcing, culturally grounded leadership development and network weaving. The American Indian Family Empowerment Program (AIFEP) is the centerpiece of their work, which provides direct support to American Indians throughout the Twin Cities metro area through microgrants to individuals. 

Vision West ND is a consortium of leaders across many sectors in western North Dakota, focused on economic sustainability for rural communities impacted by the oil industry. The consortium uses a data-driven and knowledge-discovery model to address collective problem solving across issues ranging from childcare, housing, mental health and economic vitality. 

Voices for Racial Justice works to nurture an ecosystem of restorative racial justice movements in Minnesota. They help partners across sectors to better serve Black, Indigenous and people of color communities through effective engagement. They equip people with tools and support to be effective leaders, organizers and culture workers. They support and connect hundreds of alumni from their training programs engaged in racial justice work across the state. 

Wilder Research partners with organizations locally and across the country to measure and improve data effectiveness, identify needs and solutions, and make data-informed decisions to improve lives. Minnesota Compass was created by Wilder Research, an independent research arm of Amherst H. Wilder Foundation. The Community Equity Program, which is increasing Black, Indigenous and people of color representation in policy decisions, is a program of Wilder Foundation.