Key Points

West Central Initiative, a mostly rural community foundation and regional development organization in Minnesota, integrated the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals into its strategic plan in 2019. This article explores how aligning the U.N. goals with the foundation’s “nested strategy” of local, regional, and global goals has aligned and energized the disparate functions of the organization.

This article describes the strategic planning process that led to adoption of the goals, articulates how they have helped evolve the interplay of economic development and philanthropy, and identifies lessons learned from the first two years of working with the goals.

Focusing on the strong and undeniable connections between the local and the global has crystalized West Central Initiative’s higher purpose. The new, transformative vision for the foundation centers diversity, equity, and inclusion as essential building blocks of both successful regional development and place-based philanthropy. Any region — anywhere — with a successful regional economy that also is supported by effective community philanthropy would look like the Sustainable Development Goals, realized.

Open Access