Eric Jolly

Eric Jolly, the president and CEO of the St. Paul and Minnesota Foundation. Submitted photo. 

The importance of local foundations and the impact they have on their communities varies from city to city. 

Red Wing has foundations that continue to give back to their community in order to strengthen it. 

The recent announcement of the partnership between the Jones Family Foundation and Minnesota College Southeast for the Red Wing Promise is one example of local foundations working to strengthen Red Wing. 

Eric Jolly, the president and CEO of the St. Paul and Minnesota Foundation, recently visited Red Wing to talk with local area foundations and discuss plans for the future. 

“I visited Red Wing and talked with foundations in the area about the work that they are currently doing,” Jolly said. 

During his visit with some of the local foundations, he was informed of the new Red Wing Promise program that Minnesota College Southeast is implementing. 

“My visit to Red Wing was full of quiet celebration with the Jones Family Foundation. I’m so proud and so excited for the Red Wing Promise, this is a partnership with strengths and with initiative,” Jolly said. 

“I firmly believe that education is a liberating tool and the possibilities are broad and endless. This will ensure that Red Wing has an entire generation that can dream big,” he continued. 

The Red Wing Promise program is one example of community foundations working for the people in their area. 

“The nonprofit world in Red Wing and the networking among the leaders of the community is so powerful and this new promise changes the way nonprofits will do business,” Jolly said. 

Jolly sees the Red Wing foundations as organizations that are all about their community, 

“The foundations there are really all about the community. They have no expectation for a thank you for this gift that they are giving and that is real generosity,” Jolly said. 

The foundations and the nonprofits in Red Wing have a strong sense of community and keep the people within it engaged. 

“The organizations really keep the community engaged, they have large volunteer bases and great board members that are outstanding in that way,” Jolly said. 

“With burnout and inflation having these foundations and these organizations being so responsive and resilient allows the community to thrive,” he continued. 

Foundations help to connect people in the community, they help connect to other communities and they are the motivators that can try new and risky ideas. 

“They are the connectors and catalysts of communities and because they are associated with the St. Paul and Minnesota Foundation they connect across communities because we can help share ideas and see if others want to try something new that another community is doing,” Jolly said. 

Foundations have stepped in to help their communities through uncertain times like the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Foundations can help with the unseen community needs that occur with urgency and they are noteworthy for their commitments and they are there for the long term,” Jolly said. 


Eric Jolly

Eric J. Jolly is the president and CEO of the St. Paul and  Minnesota Foundation – an organization working to create an equitable, just and vibrant Minnesota where all communities and people thrive. With roots in St. Paul since 1940 and partners across the state, the foundation is Minnesota’s largest community foundation, stewarding $2 billion in charitable assets, including the work of F. R. Bigelow Foundation, Mardag Foundation and a statewide network of more than 2,000 charitable organizations and donor advised funds.

Each year, the foundation and its donors make over 8,500 grants to agents and agencies of change.

Jolly joined the foundation in 2015. As a lifelong educator and scientist, Jolly’s signature leadership style has been to listen deeply to those in the community. As a result, Jolly has focused the foundation on three distinct strategies: inspiring generosity, advancing equity and investing in community-led solutions. 

The consistent thread woven throughout Jolly’s vast career is the belief that all humans deserve a life filled with dignity and opportunity.

Currently he serves on a number of local and national boards, including the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, Greater MSP, Itasca Project and the Ordway. Widely recognized for his work with communities and policy makers, Jolly has published articles and books and has lectured around the world. He is also a frequent contributor to articles, opinion editorials and global conversations and convenings about equity, inclusion and community-building.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Thank you for taking part in our commenting section. We want this platform to be a safe and inclusive community where you can freely share ideas and opinions. Comments that are racist, hateful, sexist or attack others won’t be allowed. Just keep it clean. Do these things or you could be banned:

• Don’t name-call and attack other commenters. If you’d be in hot water for saying it in public, then don’t say it here.

• Don’t spam us.

• Don’t attack our journalists.

Let’s make this a platform that is educational, enjoyable and insightful.

Email questions to

Share your opinion


Join the conversation

Recommended for you