3M Forms Coalition to Guide Racial Equity Investments
3M’s “Community Coalition” includes eight local voices, including St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter Caitlin Abrams for Mpls.St.Paul Magazine

3M Forms Coalition to Guide Racial Equity Investments

The company has formed a group of eight Minnesota community leaders to help steer its $50 million investment plan.
3M’s “Community Coalition” includes eight local voices, including St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter Caitlin Abrams for Mpls.St.Paul Magazine

3M is turning to the community for guidance on distributing one of its largest education-related donations in recent history.

In September, the Maplewood-based manufacturer announced plans to spend $50 million on education and workforce development initiatives aimed at addressing racial inequities. Though the company spelled out a few specific investments for the five-year plan, precise details were sparse. And that’s partly because 3M is turning to eight community leaders to help guide the remainder of its investments.

“Instead of just showing up and saying, ‘Here’s how we want to invest, and that’s the way it’s going to be,’ this coalition is a way for us to allow community leaders to inform what our investment strategy looks like,” says Michael Stroik, director of 3Mgives and VP of the 3M Foundation.

The primary goal, Stroik says, is to ensure that the investments are “rooted in equity.”

The 3M Community Coalition is composed of:

  • St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter
  • Saint Paul Public Schools Superintendent Joe Gothard
  • Center for Economic Inclusion Founder and CEO Tawanna Black
  • Acooa Ellis, senior VP of community impact at the Greater Twin Cities United Way,
  • Pahoua Yang Hoffman, senior VP of community impact at the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation,
  • Laverne McCartney Knighton, Minneapolis area development director for the United College Negro Fund (UNCF),
  • Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Chancellor Devinder Malhotra, and
  • Ujamaa Place President and CEO Otis Zanders

Each month, 3M leaders are meeting with members of the coalition to gather feedback and talk about future investments. The company kicked off its first coalition meeting in September with a talk focused on Mayor Carter’s priorities in St. Paul. The October meet-up focuses on education. Each meeting addresses different sectors, Stroik says.

“By the end of the year, what we seek to do is to share more details on the specifics of the investment plan with their input and advice built in,” he adds.

The $50 million pledge is a nationwide program, but 3M is focusing its initial efforts locally. St. Paul, in particular, is a “top priority” for the company, Stroik says.

To be sure, 3M has formed partnerships with various groups and individuals over the years. But the coalition brings them all together under one roof. The hope is to give diverse voices “more voice and gravitas” early on in the company’s donation plans, Stroik says.

“It’s a leap of faith for us,” he adds. “It’s our belief that we need to be doing something different, and this is sort of the first step of how we do that.”