OPINION | Community Action in Ramsey-Washington demonstrates transparency, accountability

I wish to utilize this column to share some important information related to the operations and oversight at Community Action Partnership of Ramsey & Washington Counties (CAPRW). The recent shutdown of Community Action of Minneapolis has given rise to an unprecedented level of scrutiny toward Minnesota’s other 25 Community Action agencies, including CAPRW.

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Non-profit boards and rotting fish

“A fish rots from the head down,” according to an old saying. The state shut down Community Action of Minneapolis (CAM), and executive director Bill Davis needs a good defense attorney, but the “head” of this and other non-profit organizations includes the board of directors. Even though CAM is dead, the problems that brought it down continue in other non-profit organizations. Continue Reading

Barnraisings.com wants you — to “make community work”

Jim Rettew has a dream of adapting the Amish concept of barn raisings to bring people around the Twin Cities together to rebuild homes, businesses, and lives. With funding from Minnesota Idea Open, he’s working on making that dream a reality that will help homeless veterans, aspiring hairdressers, and many more people in the Twin Cities.Rettew grew up in Philadelphia near what he calls “Amish Country.” From an early age he was impressed with the strong sense of community among the Amish. In particular, he looked to the tradition of barn raising as an example of community coming together to help each other.“I always loved the idea that in a weekend, neighbors could come together and build a barn in 72 hours or less,” said Rettew. “It was an awesome spirit of coming together.”So in 2012 when Rettew applied to the Minnesota Idea Open challenge held by the Minnesota Community Foundation, he decided take the idea of Amish barn raisings to social media.  He won, and this July, Rettew’s vision became reality with the launch of barnraisings.com. Continue Reading

Madoff scandal hits local nonprofits

Several Minnesota nonprofits are feeling the pain in the aftermath of alleged investor fraud case — the largest such case in history — perpetrated by Bernie Madoff. All of the grants received by Minnesota organizations were from the New York–based JEHT Foundation, which gets its name from its four areas of commitment: Justice, Equality, Human dignity and Tolerance. The organization and its benefactors invested heavily in operations by Madoff that bilked investors out of $50 billion. More than $1.1 million dollars in JEHT Foundation grants benefited voter engagement, human rights, care for terminally ill patient and criminal justice programs in Minnesota over the last two years. JEHT announced two weeks ago that because of the Madoff scandal they will cease all grant-making and shut their doors at the end of January. Continue Reading