Mission and Focus

The Heartland Fund, a new donor collaborative that strives to help build a just, sustainable, and equitable future for the Midwest, has just announced its first round of grants to nine Midwestern initiatives. The Franciscan Sisters of Mary is one of its founding partners.

The Heartland Fund supports the health and resilience of Midwestern communities, rural as well as urban, seeking to build prosperity for small farmers and business owners in the region through mutual collaboration. It aims to ensure that all people have access to clean air, water and land, and it works to support a vibrant rural community.


“The Heartland Fund will empower diverse local leaders to organize and mobilize their communities around the issues that are most important to them, as well as connect with broader regional and national allies and movements,” said Ryan Strode of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary. “We’re thrilled to begin the grant-making portion of our work.”


The Heartland Fund’s first grants were awarded to nine organizations:


  • Center for Earth, Energy, and Democracy, which is dedicated to bringing justice to energy and environmental sustainability, ensuring all are able to participate in decisions on energy and the environment that impact health and livelihoods.
  • Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, which helps empower and unite   grassroots people to hold institutions accountable to everyday people, giving them the resources to share stories, influence policies, and promote clean energy for Iowa.
  • Land Stewardship Project, which organizes rural people across Minnesota to advocate for land ownership, racial justice, and people power over corporate control of the economy and politics. Campaigns include efforts to win health care reform, stop corporate-backed factory farm expansion, support beginning farmers, build soil health and stabilize climate, and expand local family-farm-raised foods in schools and other institutions.
  • Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, which organizes the community to achieve environmental justice in Chicago and support of immigrant, low-income, and working class families.
  • Missouri Rural Crisis Center, which seeks to involve rural and urban Missourians in the fight for democracy, especially involving issues that affect their lives and communities—family farms vs. factor farms, clean water, corporate control, access to good food, rural healthcare, etc. A central issue is racial inclusiveness.
  • MOVE Coalition, which works with Black and rural groups across Missouri to win proactive economic and racial justice victories and policies. Black and rural organizations are engaging voters to advance democracy in the state.
  • Midwest Environmental Justice Network, which helps grassroots organizations and indigenous groups lead environmental justice initiatives related to water, health, energy, and climate change.
  • We, the People Michigan, which works to build multiracial working class alliances in Michigan that recognize a linked fate among diverse communities, working to build racial and economic justice among communities.
  • Western Native Voice Project, which is building a grassroots base of concerned citizens working for stewardship and conservation of the land, water, and energy resources, family farms and sustainable agriculture and civic engagement. It aims to mobilize the Native vote and keep them engaged afterward. Its model was successful in Montana and programs are beginning in other states with a significant Native population in the Midwest, beginning with North Dakota.


Partners in the fund include the Franciscan Sisters of Mary, the Wallace Global Fund, the Wellspring Philanthropic Fund, and Arabella Advisors; the fund is hosted at the Windward Fund, a nonprofit designed to encourage initiatives that offer bold solutions to environmental challenges.

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