We seek to increase the standard of living for youth and families living in poverty in developing countries.
The Foundation believes that the standard of living is not only about the economic terms of the Gross National Product, but also about what individuals can do and become. Individuals need both capabilities and opportunities to pursue a life of dignity and value.
The Foundation supports sustainable and integrated solutions that increase capability and provide opportunity. Because individuals have the ability to comprehend what they can become and understand their needs, individuals within community need to be involved in designing and delivering solutions. To address the complexity of poverty, it is important that solutions are coordinated in a holistic strategy to address a range of critical needs, including, but not limited to:
- Economic Development: Opportunities may vary based on rural or urban settings and all well-defined opportunities are welcomed for consideration. Because the largest population of individuals living in poverty is connected to agriculture, support that includes building agricultural skills and sustainable agriculture markets is of particular interest.
- Educational Attainment: Education comes in many forms from primary and secondary education to building skills of adults. We are interested in options that increase capabilities, provide opportunities, and lead to improved livelihoods.
- Affordable access to healthcare, including family planning and/or reproductive health and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH).
- Basic Needs: Nutrition, housing, and other basic needs are critical to ensuring that opportunities can be utilized.
- Control: Individuals who have repeatedly faced barriers may need additional support to find their own strength and determine their own direction.
To achieve our goal, we believe that how the work gets done is as important as what work gets done. These characteristics are important in how the work is done:
The traditional systems of providing development aid are not sustainable. Sustainable systems do not hand out tangible commodities that will be gone after the aid is gone; instead, sustainable systems ensure that resources - both human and natural - are nurtured, grown, and produced from within the community and continue to exist even when outside aid is no longer provided. For a system to be sustainable, the system must create and maintain the conditions under which humans and nature exist in productive harmony.
- Gender Equity
It is important that grant partners have practices that ensure all women and men have equitable access to, authority over and benefit from the programs. Partners will demonstrate their work increases the capability of women and girls to realize their rights, determine the direction of their life, and influence decision making in households, communities, and societies.
- Economic Equity
It is important that economic growth opportunities are shared equitably across all caste, ethnicity, race, birthplace, and family backgrounds. Grant partners will demonstrate their work increases opportunity for all and does not leave behind any group in the community’s economic progress.
- Beneficiary engagement
It is important that grant partners learn from community and support the community in creating their own methods to increase the standard of living. Grant partners will demonstrate that beneficiaries have had a voice in designing and managing the activities and influencing outcomes. While it may be worthwhile to engage United States skilled volunteers to increase partner capacity, the U.S. volunteer engagement should not be the primary objective or significant revenue source of the grant partner.
We are interested in partnering with non-governmental organizations that can directly provide, or partner with other nonprofit organizations that directly provide, either a) a comprehensive system of support to families or b) integrate a specific intervention into a comprehensive system of support, based on the needs expressed by the community. We are most interested in partnering with nimble and innovative partners. We are willing to take project risk with a proven organization.
Although the following strategies may complement the overall Foundation goal, they fall outside of our desired focus:
- Advocacy and policy change strategies
- Conferences, sponsorships, festivals, and events
- Nonecumenical organizations or programs, direct religious activities, or organizations that receive a significant source of funding from sectarian solicitations
- Support to an individual
The Mortenson Family Foundation may make multi-year grants as an additional way to support partner organizations with two- or three-year grant commitments that are capped at 33% of the following year’s projected grantmaking budget. The Foundation will use its discretion in considering an organization for a multi-year grant.