There are many things in this life that are close to my heart. Here are a few of them:

  • Neighborhood Development Center  (NDC) supports emerging entrepreneurs in the inner cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, assisting them with training, character-based microloans, and ongoing assistance with their business. They also do real estate development, focusing on ‘key corridors’ and developing retail space for entrepreneurs, like Midtown Global Market and Mercado Central; both projects have inspired further development and the surrounding communities have seen a major drop in crime since they’ve opened. I am blessed to work for NDC, but they’d be close to my heart even if I didn’t work there.
  • Kiva is an organization that allows you to make a loan of $25 online to an entrepreneur in the developing world. You are able to watch the progress of your loan, receive updates on the entrepreneur’s business and life, and once they have repaid the loan, you can re-lend it to another entrepreneur. I spent six months in Peru and Guatemala on a fellowship with Kiva and saw first hand how the loans have a positive impact on every aspect of the entrepreneur’s life.
  • Camp Wapo – or, Lake Wapogasset Lutheran Bible Camp, is still a place I think back on as a place that saved me from all sorts of trouble. I grew up there as a camper, and went on to become a counselor there during the summers in college. Wapo gave me a faith in a loving God who does not live in religion or walls, and who will always lead you home when you get lost.
  • Midtown Greenway is one of the primary reasons I lived in Midtown, Minneapolis; the Greenway is a 5.5 mile bike/walk path that connects the lakes in Uptown to the Mississippi River. It is an oasis in the city, and offers refuge and revitalization daily. I love it there. The Midtown Greenway Coalition is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that brought us the Greenway, maintains the Greenway, and fights to ensure we get to keep it.
  • MPR. Enough said.
  • Women’s Prison Book Project – The WPBP sends books to women in prison around the country. I believe every person, regardless of their past, should have the opportunity to make things right. Books are a powerful tool in learning, growing, and making things right.
  • Maranatha Mission School – Back in the days as a counselor at Wapo, I met a beautiful friend, Neema. Neema was a counselor from Arusha, Tanzania, and she used to speak about a school they were trying to start for disadvantaged kids in her home town. A few years later, the school opened. Ten years later, it is flourishing. Most of the students attend the school on scholarships, funded by donors around the world. When I was in Tanzania in 2009 I got to visit the school and meet my sponsor child, who wouldn’t be in school if it wasn’t for Maranatha. Now he’s prospering and writes me letters with better grammar than my own, and draws super cool pictures of tigers in the margins.