A community foundation with $625 million in assets as of 2010, The Minneapolis Foundation had embraced the cause of Full-Day Kindergarten
(FDK) under president Emmett Carson in the mid- 1990s as a supplement to its funding of other early childhood services, and had become an influential voice at the Minnesota Legislature. Carson thought that, at a time of retrenchment and inertia in state government, FDK could rally broad support among educators and parents, and might provide an entry point to build legislative support for early education. He asked Karen Kelley-Ariwoola, the foundation’s vice president of community philanthropy, to take the lead on the FDK campaign; she organized a series of community forums on the topic and began seeking legislators who might sponsor supportive legislation. But the foundation’s support for Full-Day Kindergarten puzzled some other members of the advocacy community, who feared it might compete with, rather than complement, the case for PreKindergarten education targeted at low- income families.
The Minneapolis Foundation, nonetheless, brought an important asset to the conversation. As a chartered community foundation, it could legally engage in political activity at the legislature, and it employed a team of lobbyists from the Faegre law firm in Minneapolis.