Undertaking Initiatives for the Common Good

As a family foundation, we are guided first and foremost by the principle of “giving back” which was instilled in us by our parents, Dale and Nancy Olseth. Their steadfast commitment to philanthropy was a cornerstone of our family ethos. We are proud to represent our parents by carrying on the legacy of generosity within local communities. We do this by supporting organizations within four sectors: Arts, Education, Environment, and the Underserved. These are our ‘pillars’ and within each there are many deserving and vital organizations that serve ever-growing needs.  To maximize the impact of our philanthropy, we have refined our focus on five specific initiatives that we believe will make meaningful strides toward solving complex societal issues. We thank our partner organizations for their “boots on the ground” efforts, which helps move us forward on these important initiatives.

Cheryl Olseth, Jon Olseth and Karen Solomon,
Directors, Olseth Family Foundation


Current Initiatives

Plant & Animal Species Conservation

Safeguard ecosystems through species diversity

Carbon Reduction & Clean Energy

Support climate change education & carbon reduction solutions

Dignity, Respect & Equality

Foster fairness and inclusion for a healthier society

Food & Housing Security

Meet fundamental needs for individuals and families

Arts, Culture & Education

Enrich lives through experiential learning

Featured Initiative | Arts, Culture & Education

Music, dance, acting, visual art and literature are a bridge between America’s many disparate populations.  Research has proven access to culture increases compassion, fosters connections, transcends divisions, resulting in greater empathy and the potential to unify diverse communities of people. 

For these reasons, The Olseth Family Foundation Mission selected support of the Arts as a cornerstone. Championing small live theatre has been a means to reach targeted, traditionally underrepresented actors and audiences.   Our reach has remained local, yet the breadth of impact has been wide.  Examples include, 1. development of a short play written for elementary children, which highlighted the similarities of all immigrants, 2. sponsorship of a cohort of minority actors who were given year long mentorship opportunity with creative and artistic directors, as well as other management positions, 3. on-going unrestricted funding for Riverland Community College and Minnesota State, Mankato theatre companies, and 4. funding for a dedicated public writing space for both playwrights and neighborhood residents with the future home of the Playwright Center

 Cultural exploration propels each of us outside our everyday comfort zone.  Over the past decade, we have assisted in funding exhibits at the Children’s Museum of Minnesota which has provided young children an opportunity to charge and drive a kid size electric car, experience how flowing water changes a landscape and learn about the importance of farming. We have also made it possible for many St. Olaf College students to study off-campus, domestically and globally,

Finally, we have given much attention to the written word, hosting a Community College reading by Poet Laureate Joy Harjo during the pandemic, providing author Shel Silverstein’s beloved book “Where the Sidewalk Ends” to every fourth grader in Minnesota’s Blue Earth County, and underwriting K-12 library programs throughout great Minneapolis and Portland metro areas. 

We are excited to share the importance of public libraries as we feature a long-time partner Portland, Oregon’s Multnomah Public Library System.

Improving Human Rights Globally | Advocating for
Women’s Rights and Abolition of the Death Penalty

2024 United Nations Human Rights Council Meeting, Geneva, Switzerland

Cheryl Olseth, Director of The Olseth Family Foundation, accompanied The Advocates for Human Rights to the United Nations 55th session of the Human Rights Council and the 140th session of the Human Rights committee in Geneva, Switzerland. The team comprised of volunteers, European NGO partners and staff members. Throughout the session, the participants met with United Nations delegates and special rapporteurs, hosted two panel discussions, presented oral statements to the UN body, and had the opportunity to listen to any of the UN sessions. 

This year’s primary focus was to bring attention to judiciary inequity and the lack of safe harbor spaces and violence program funding for women, children and LBGTQI+ persons.  The Olseth Family Foundation funded a representative from three partner NGOs.   These women were able to provide first-hand accounts of on the ground conditions for women experiencing violence in Cyprus and North Macedonia and women and children seeking asylum in the United Kingdom.

The secondary focus was discussing with delegates the abolition of the death penalty in several of the countries under their 5-year human rights review.  In countries where the death penalty would not presently be overturned, the advocates recommended factors such as considering years of domestic violence before the sentencing phase.

Engendering Dignity, Respect and Equality

The Olseth Family Foundation is proud to continue support for The Advocates for Human Rights, who work tirelessly to change systems and conditions that cause human rights abuses. The Advocates fight injustice and improve laws and lives throughout the world while representing individual victims of human rights violations.

Specifically, the foundation funds the Women’s Human Rights Program which focuses on ending violence and discrimination against women and girls by improving laws and policies, both in the United States and globally.

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