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I would first like to start out by making an apology to Ms. Karen Kelley-Ariwoola, the former Vice President of Community Philanthropy of The Minneapolis Foundation. Few may know that Ms. Kelley-Ariwoola was the point person leading the charge behind not only the North Minneapolis Tornado Recovery fundraising efforts – but also was very instrumental during the devastating 35W bridge collapse. For that “Ms. Karen,” (respectfully), your service to the community will be greatly missed. Whenever there is a void in the “peoples” space-time continuum, it’s the people who get overlooked.
By Donald W.R. Allen, II – Editor in Chief/The Independent Business News Network
“Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.” ~John Milton
The following video was taken on June 29, 2011 seven weeks after the north Minneapolis tornado. Listen closely to the sisters truths.
Fast Tube by Casper
Minneapolis, MN (IBNN/Editorial/Social Justice/April 11, 2012)…In my mind, I always thought Ms. Kelley-Ariwoola would be a great President/CEO of The Minneapolis Foundation.
Having a smart, well-spoken Black woman, a mother and a caring member of the north Minneapolis community, she (Ms. Karen) would see what’s happening on the ground floor and always use sound logic when making decisions about grants that would affect the community as a whole – which is what she always did. Ms. Karen’s undying commitment to children of color (and all children) exceeds the expectations of most public school districts around the United States. Ms. Karen’s dedication to the community is unprecedented. Anyone misconstruing my stories as an attack on Ms. Karen reputation as it pertains to the tornado relief effort and granting process is sadly, deeply and heinously mistaken. IBNN and its affiliates have much love for Ms. Karen, her family and what she means (and will always mean) to the Black community and the people she helped during in the darkness of the storm.
But I feel there has been a mistake.
I feel that Ms. Karen is an important part of the recovery of Black Minnesotans on a larger scale. Her departure from The Minneapolis Foundation (in my opinion) is premature (in my opinion), unscheduled (in my opinion), and will affect future decisions on populations that need the support of the foundation to include the wisdom of the current leadership and the very supportive donors of the foundation. I understand wanting to spend more time with family – and that’s respectable. I hope at some point Ms. Karen would consider becoming the President/CEO of the Minneapolis Urban League or another flagship local or national organization because we (people of color) can’t afford to loose Ms. Karen and her philanthropic, corporate and motherly knowledge about everything.
My posts about The Minneapolis Foundation and the Tornado Recovery Funds are concerns that many Minnesotans have, especially residents of north Minneapolis.
A concerned Minneapolis resident Joyce Johnson said, “Yeah, I see they have money to plant trees over North, but no money to help the residents.”
This has been the outcry for many who feel as if a second tier grant of $5000 or $10,000 to do events for tornado victims could possibly be bad judgment from an organization that received “tornado relief funds” to for something like a “resource fair” where the vendors outnumbered the community members…for example. Without a plan of communications and effective marketing goals, the user-agency misses the mark every time.
Does the communication end with piggybacking on commercials for an event at the Minneapolis Urban League? Does this benefit victims of the May 22nd tornado?
We have come to a place where there is an attempt to silence free speech and editorial opinions. Democracy should always have a robust conversation – but some want it silenced. Asking questions about money and where it went is taboo when it comes to the Black community. My only concern is the process on which money from The Minneapolis Foundation was distributed for Tornado Relief and also the Digital Inclusion Fund. (See upcoming post, “DIF, DOA.”)
Donor awareness is my concern along with a transparent “top-of-mind” distribution of where, who, for what and how much went to people that in most cases have never run a shoe shine shop. This is where the challenge begins and ends.
On May 22, 2012 a major tornado ripped through north Minneapolis. The tornado displaced thousands, damaged and destroyed homes. This started a chain of events, which again, in my opinion should have been the greatest public works projects in north Minneapolis. The opportunity was unlimited to hired the unemployed, underemployed and send some “stimulus” to an area that has suffered benign neglect with the handling of the Empowerment Zone, Foreclosure and development dollars that (in my opinion), never made it to the streets or the people of north Minneapolis.
Let the record show, I still have unanswered questions and will peruse the answers in an effort to celebrate success or expose a foul process – it’s the answering parties choice to choose the right answers, factual and sound.
To Ms. Karen Kelley Ariwoola, thanks for the fine work you’ve done – and best in success.