GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. – Representatives from Blandin Foundation and the Charles K. Blandin Residuary Trust head to St. Paul on April 21 to update the Ramsey County District Court and to consider a new way to report and verify that the Foundation is meeting its commitments to the communities of its local giving area (Itasca County, plus neighboring communities of Remer, Hill City, Blackduck and Northome).
Court review of Blandin Foundation dates back to the wishes of founder Charles Blandin who asked that the Ramsey District Court review the distributions and operations of his trust when he was no longer able. Since Blandin’s death in 1958, the C.K. Blandin Residuary Trust (which oversees Mr. Blandin’s estate) and the Blandin Foundation (responsible for distributing the proceeds from the trust) have provided such an overview every three years. Given its role in oversight of the state’s charities, officials of the Minnesota Attorney General’s office also regularly participate in Blandin Foundation reviews.
On April 21 at 9:30 a.m., officials from the trust and the foundation will participate in a public hearing in front of the Honorable Margaret Marrinan regarding grant-making during years 2009 through 2011. The Ramsey County Courthouse is located at 15 West Kellogg Blvd. in downtown St. Paul. This hearing originally was scheduled for October 2014, but was postponed in order for the Court and the Minnesota Attorney General’s office to consider additional community comments.
In addition to completing its regular triennial oversight, the Court has asked Blandin Foundation and the trust to recommend a new method of annual, independently verified reporting of its grant-making. In 2003, the foundation and others agreed to a minimum of 55% of grants being paid in communities of its local giving area. Since then, a Court-appointed special master—attorney and accountant Peter Ullmen–has provided Judge Marrinan and the Minnesota Attorney General with an annual report of the foundation’s compliance with this and related commitments. The Court has found that Blandin Foundation consistently has complied with the 2003 order and exceeded its commitments.
Given that the Court is now considering releasing the special master, Blandin Foundation and the C.K. Blandin Residuary Trust will recommend on April 21 that:
- Annual reports continue to be provided to the Court, Attorney General and public,
- Decisions forged with the Court and special master during the past 12 years will continue to be the basis of this reporting,
- The foundation’s independent auditors rigorously review, verify and confirm compliance reports prepared by the foundation, and that this audit be publicly available, and
- A new policy established to formalize and make public the foundation’s process for addressing questions or concerns raised by any member of the Grand Rapids community.
“We look forward to meeting again with Judge Marrinan and updating her on the Foundation’s work,” said Dr. Kathy Annette, Blandin Foundation president and CEO. “Healthy organizations are transparent and accountable, and Mr. Blandin had great foresight in building regular Court reviews into the plans for his trust and foundation.
“I am also honored that, when many local community members have questions or concerns, they feel free to raise them with us directly. I hope that all in our local communities know they are welcome to reach out to us. It is because many people care deeply about Mr. Blandin’s legacy that we are among the healthiest private foundations in the country.”
More on the history of the Foundation, the Trust and past Court reviews is available at www.blandinfoundation.org.
Blandin Foundation, the sole beneficiary of the Charles K. Blandin Residuary Trust, is Minnesota’s largest rural-focused private foundation and one of only a handful in the nation focused exclusively on rural communities. The Foundation works to strengthen rural Minnesota communities, especially the Grand Rapids area, through grants, leadership development programs and public policy initiatives.