Mission in Action

The Ordean Foundation is a private, place based foundation. What does this mean? It means that the mission and purpose of the Ordean Foundation are based squarely on the principles and constraints that Mr. Ordean set out in his will written in 1927. Fortunately, Mr. Ordean was a man of unusual generosity and vision. He directed that his fortune be used to address issues related to poverty in Duluth. His concern about poverty and the non-discriminatory allocation of resources were ahead of his time; it's especially noteworthy that these principles were expressed during the Roaring 20s, well before the devastating poverty of the Great Depression.

The most significant limitation to the Ordean Foundation’s giving program is that we only fund projects and programs in Duluth (and adjacent communities within St. Louis County). While it is not a requirement, we prefer to partner with organizations that are physically based in Duluth and that have a long-term commitment to the community. There are a large number of programs across the state and region that we believe in and would love to support, however are unable to support financially but, based on this constraint, we are unable to do so.

The Ordean Foundation’s focus on poverty is the core principle for the organization. We approach this mission both by addressing basic needs (food, shelter, clothing, heath care, and personal safety) and by addressing “up-stream” strategies to break the generational cycle of poverty (youth programming, education, job training). Ordean believes that there are systemic barriers that keep people in poverty including discrimination and institutional biases that exacerbate the already enormous challenges of experiencing poverty.

The Ordean Foundation believes in the importance of relationships in philanthropy. By making long-term connections, we can deepen our understanding of critical community challenges and the organizations that we fund. In support of this key value, the foundation encourages initial telephone inquiries concerning its interest in a potential project.

Giving Programs

The Ordean Foundation has two primary giving programs – the Core Grant Program and the Community Builders Fund.

Core Grant Program

The Core Grant Program represents the majority of the Ordean Foundation’s giving. The Core Program focuses on consistent, reliable, and often long-term partnerships with local organizations delivering key services. The purpose of this fund is to provide financial support for food, shelter, medical and dental care, mental health services, youth programming, and individual and family counseling. Due to the long-term commitments made to our core program partners, the foundation is not accepting applications for this fund.

Community Builders Fund

The Community Builders Fund is a relatively new addition for the Ordean Foundation’s program with the goal of providing opportunities to build new relationships with a more nimble grant program. These one-time-only grants of up to $20,000 provide support to special projects, program start-ups, capacity building, emergency assistance, and capital projects. While formal applications are by invitation only, qualifying organizations interested in a Community Builders Grant should contact the foundation’s Program Director to discuss opportunities to apply.

Grant applicants must be 501c3 nonprofit organizations located or providing services in the Duluth community. While the Ordean Foundation does NOT accept unsolicited applications, we value establishing new relationships and potential partnerships. We welcome your call or email to start a conversation.