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The Rapson Decade at Kresge marked with reception, tributes

General Foundation News

Rip Rapson’s 10th year at the helm of The Kresge Foundation was marked with a reception, glowing tributes, some good-natured needling and a proclamation declaring June 15, 2016 as “Rip Rapson Day” in Minneapolis, Minn. – the city where Rapson lived and worked for decades before joining Kresge as president and CEO in 2006.

Rapson was lauded for moving Kresge from primarily funding major construction and renovation projects into strategic philanthropy – using combinations of innovative funding and support methods to address narrow and defined sets of problems. The strategic grantmaking approach is far more complex, focusing on multi-layered solutions to complex problems including poverty, lack of opportunity, education and public health.

“He has artfully turned (the foundation) into an undeniable and respected leader in philanthropy,” said Elaine Rosen, president of The Kresge Foundation’s Board of Trustees. “He defined a new era.”

Kresge President and CEO Rip Rapson (right) at a reception at Minneapolis’ Mixed Blood Theatre in honor of his 10th anniversary leading the foundation.

The June 15 reception was in conjunction with foundation’s Board of Trustees meeting in that city. It took place at the Mixed Blood Theatre ­– a Kresge grantee that is home to a professional multiracial company promoting cultural pluralism and individual equality through artistic excellence. Mayor Betsy Hodges was joined by two former Minneapolis mayors at the reception, R.T. Rybak and Donald Fraser, with whom Rapson served during his tenure as deputy mayor.

Rapson was presented with a bound book containing 36 of his signature sketches – elaborate hand-drawn illustrations depicting various stubborn social and economic problems, and their solutions – that Rapson is known for.

“Rip has this incredible talent to decipher the most complicated ideas, dilemmas, processes, and turn them into colorful, organized, practical drawings of solutions,” said Rosen.

The Minneapolis setting was appropriate, as Rapson practiced there as an attorney during the 1980s, served as deputy mayor from 1989 to 1993, and worked at the University of Minnesota until 1999 when he began a six-year tenure as president of the McKnight Foundation.