The Bank of America Charitable Foundation awarded the Minneapolis Parks Foundation a $1 million anchor grant for its RiverFirst Capital Campaign to catalyze new park and community investments along a revitalized Upper Mississippi Riverfront. Bank of America’s grant positions the Parks Foundation to complete its $17.9 million campaign for transformative parks; it also brings the RiverFirst Campaign to within $600,000 of the amount needed to break ground in early 2019 on the first phases of the projects known as Water Works and the Great Northern Greenway River Link.
RiverFirst is a Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board-led vision for regional riverfront parks and trails that will transform the Minneapolis Upper Riverfront into a world-class cultural and recreational destination for residents and visitors, as well as an economic engine for the Twin Cities region. The Parks Foundation is the park board’s primary philanthropic partner in the public-private RiverFirst Initiative. In addition to Water Works and the River Link, RiverFirst projects include Upper Harbor Terminal redevelopment, Hall’s Island restoration, and Graco Park.
“Viable green spaces for people to enjoy are essential to our communities, and something we’re all collectively responsible for preserving,” said Katie Simpson, Minneapolis market president at Bank of America. “By supporting the efforts of the Minneapolis Parks Foundation, especially the historic RiverFirst project, Bank of America is investing in a landscape that will benefit and connect our community for generations and decades to come.”
Bank of America has environmental, social, and governance policies that drive responsible growth, create jobs, and help families, businesses, and communities thrive. The anchor grant was created to support institutions and initiatives that "anchor" the local community and enable economic mobility, workforce development and education, and community revitalization.
With its RiverFirst grant, Bank of America joins General Mills as one of two Fortune 500 companies to contribute leadership gifts at $1 million and above. Together with additional gifts from individuals and corporations, campaign contributions now total $15.9 million.
“With Bank of America’s catalytic contribution to RiverFirst, breaking ground on two of the most important new Minneapolis parks projects in recent decades is within reach,” says Tom Evers, executive director of the Minneapolis Parks Foundation. “We’re grateful that Bank of America understands the power of Water Works and the Great Northern Greenway River Link to connect residents and visitors to our region’s greatest natural asset – the Mississippi River – and affirms their commitment to the Twin Cities by making such a meaningful gift at this critical time in the campaign.”
Already home to iconic landmarks, including St. Anthony Falls and the Stone Arch Bridge, Water Works will be an expansion of Mill Ruins Park and become a much-needed destination for the more than 2.5 million annual visitors to the area, a number that is expected to double in the next decade. Among the new amenities will be a park pavilion with a restaurant by James Beard Award-winning The Sioux Chef; revealed and restored historic mill remnants; a city steps gathering and performance space; and places to picnic and play.
Parks and trails are the key to unlocking the economic potential of the Minneapolis Upper Riverfront. The Great Northern Greenway River Link is a milestone project and major step in transforming the entire river corridor through North Minneapolis into public parkland, parkway, and trails. Located at the eastern end of the newly completed 26th Ave. N. bike and pedestrian trail, the River Link will celebrate community members’ arrival at the Mississippi River with a compelling public space featuring views, art, lighting, furniture, and interactive experiences.
“Bank of America’s generous contribution puts us one step closer to completing what I call the unfinished agenda for our riverfront park, which includes RiverFirst,” said Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Superintendent Mary Merrill. “This important project not only supports ecological systems and establishes new parks and trails, it also provides access and opportunities for underserved neighborhoods to do something I deeply believe in: Playing for Life.”
At Bank of America, we’re guided by a common purpose to help make financial lives better, through the power of every connection. We’re delivering on this through responsible growth with a focus on our environmental, social and governance (ESG) leadership. ESG is embedded across our eight lines of business and reflects how we help fuel the global economy, build trust and credibility, and represent a company that people want to work for, invest in and do business with. It’s demonstrated in the inclusive and supportive workplace we create for our employees, the responsible products and services we offer our clients, and the impact we make around the world in helping local economies thrive. An important part of this work is forming strong partnerships with nonprofits and advocacy groups, such as community, consumer and environmental organizations, to bring together our collective networks and expertise to achieve greater impact.
The Minneapolis Parks Foundation transforms human lives through parks and public spaces by aligning philanthropic investment and community vision. The Parks Foundation co-leads the RiverFirst Initiative with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and is responsible for private fundraising and implementation of the Water Works and Great Northern Greenway River Link projects. The Parks Foundation also supports innovative Minneapolis parks projects, including Little Free Libraries® at all recreation centers, through equity funding, and champions world-class design through its Next Generation of Parks™ Event Series. Learn more at Minneapolis Parks Foundation.
Janette Law, Minneapolis Parks Foundation
Diane Wagner, Bank of America
Robin Smothers, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board