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Native-led Environmental Conservation Nonprofit to Build Education Center in Minnesota Using CDFI Financing

Financial and Social Impact

  • Native-led organization able to preserve and maintain land to share Dakota history, culture, and environmental education
  • Estimated 35,000 visitors to visit new center each year

Client: Lower Phalen Creek Project
Client location: Saint Paul, Minnesota
CDFI: Propel Nonprofits
CDFI service area: Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin
CDFI services provided: Financing, with support from the Grow with Google Small Business Fund and Grant Program

Lower Phalen Creek Project (LPCP) is a Native-led environmental conservation nonprofit that has been an important part of the East Side community in Saint Paul, MN, for over 20 years. LPCP is in the process of envisioning and building the Wakáŋ Tipi Center at the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary, which LPCP spent eight years restoring – clearing 50 tons of trash and 13 tons of contaminated soil from the previously abandoned land. This new interpretive center will share Dakota history, culture, and environmental education with visitors.

LPCP was referred to Propel Nonprofits after having been denied PRI funding from a local foundation. LPCP required bridge financing to capital campaign pledges coming through over the next three years. With support from Propel Nonprofits, LPCP will now have the total funds required to begin construction. LPCP estimates they will welcome 35,000 visitors to the center each year, and they currently partner with Saint Paul Public Schools to teach 5,000 fifth graders each year about the history and culture of the Dakota people, with hopes of expanding to more students.

“Lower Phalen Creek Project does great work – the fact that the organization is Native-led with a strong executive director and board is really significant within the context of land-back movements. We appreciate the education and spiritual and cultural significance they provide to local and native communities, and it’s meaningful for this new center to be built near a sacred site that had been desecrated by colonizing forces. LPCP has been working on this project for a decade or more and has done a great job of bringing different constituents together including the government, non-governmental entities, and the local community – this is the culmination of a lot of work. It’s an honor to be able to support them in this first phase of their construction project,” said Koa Mirai, senior loan officer & financial specialist at Propel Nonprofits.

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