Catholic Charities Reaches Private Fundraising Goal

State Funding to Complete Vision Hangs in Balance in Final Weeks of Legislative Session

Saint Paul, Minn. (May 5, 2017) — Today – two years after launching a private capital campaign to advance a new vision for the Dorothy Day Center in Saint Paul – Catholic Charities of Saint Paul and Minneapolis announced that it has reached its goal to raise $40 million in private funds. The new vision – a two-building, $100 million public-private partnership called “Dorothy Day Place” – is the largest public-private partnership in housing and social services in Minnesota history. Campaign leaders announced this significant milestone at the annual Dorothy Day Community Breakfast today.

“We have achieved an ambitious and unprecedented private fundraising goal,” said Doug Baker, Jr., Chairman and CEO of Ecolab and campaign co-chair. “This historic public-private partnership is evidence of the innovation, hard work and generosity that makes this community so unique.”

Fifteen prominent regional business leaders spearheaded the fundraising campaign, including co-chairs Doug Baker, Jr., Chairman and CEO of Ecolab; Mary Brainerd, President and CEO of HealthPartners; and Andy Cecere, President and CEO of U.S. Bank.

The campaign launched in May 2015 with a $5 million lead grant by The Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation – the most significant private investment to support Catholic Charities of Saint Paul and Minneapolis in recent history. Other contributions of $1 million or more were given by Target ($2 million); Hardenbergh Foundation; Premier Banks; 3M; Julie and Doug Baker, Jr. Foundation; Ecolab Foundation; Frey Foundation; Carl and Eloise Pohlad Foundation; and U.S. Bank Foundation. All told, more than 480 individuals and organizations have contributed to the Dorothy Day Place private fundraising campaign.

“Our most vulnerable neighbors – elders, veterans, youth experiencing homelessness – will find the specialized supports they need at Dorothy Day Place,” said Andy Cecere, President and CEO of U.S. Bank and campaign co-chair. “Job training, health care services, a Veterans Resource Hub – these critical elements are integrated with dignified shelter and permanent homes, making this a truly unique model seeking to prevent and end homelessness.”

“Complex, urgent challenges require innovation, creative partnerships and a deep, unwavering determination to succeed,” said Mary Brainerd, President and CEO of HealthPartners and campaign co-chair. “All of those elements are present at Dorothy Day Place.”

Higher Ground Saint Paul (Phase 1 of Dorothy Day Place) opened in January 2017, offering 473 people experiencing homelessness permanent homes, dignified shelter, and a pathway out of poverty. Milestones to date include:

  •  All of the 193 housing units have been filled.
  •  There has been continued high demand for the 280 beds in the emergency shelter and Pay-for-Stay areas of the building.
  •  30 people from Ramsey County’s list of top 100 users of shelter have moved into units in Higher Ground Saint Paul. One of the new residents from this list had been homeless for nearly 30 years and now has a home of his own.
  •  12 of the apartment units have been filled by veterans.
  •  The Higher Ground building also offers medical respite beds for men and women who are experiencing homelessness and are recovering from hospitalization; specialized housing and assistance for women suffering from late-stage alcoholism; and Pay-for-Stay beds for men, payment for which is held in savings for clients and can be used for a first month’s rent or down payment on permanent housing.

Phase 2 — the Saint Paul Opportunity Center and Dorothy Day Residence — will offer an additional 177 housing units and other services to prevent and end homelessness.

“I’m confident that future generations of Minnesotans will look at the new vision for Dorothy Day Place, when it is fully constructed, as a shining example of what can be accomplished when committed leaders and generous citizens from all sectors and political backgrounds come together around a shared goal and common purpose,” said Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman.

“Dorothy Day Place is a single, integrated project,” said Ramsey County Commissioner Jim McDonough. “This project cannot reach its transformational potential to prevent and end homelessness and contribute to the vitality of the region if both buildings are not fully funded. Ramsey County is a proud partner and funder of Dorothy Day Place, and we are committed to seeing the full implementation of this vision.”

Last year, Dorothy Day Center provided services to residents from 67 of Minnesota’s 87 counties. It has received statewide, bipartisan support from legislators and Governor Mark Dayton. To date, the State of Minnesota, Ramsey County, and other public sources have committed more than $25 million. This legislative session, Catholic Charities is advocating for a $12 million state investment in General Obligation Bonds for the Saint Paul Opportunity Center, as well as investments in Housing Infrastructure Bonds, both of which are critical funding sources to complete the project. Both funding sources were included in the bonding bill which failed to pass at the end of the 2016 legislative session.

“For 36 years Dorothy Day Center has provided a safe refuge and opportunity to our most vulnerable neighbors,” said Victoria Reinhardt, Chair of the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners. “This is an historic moment. We have an opportunity to chart a new future for our community – a future where all of our neighbors have a chance to achieve their full potential.”

“This partnership has been transformational for our entire community,” said Tim Marx, President and CEO of Catholic Charities. “The private sector has been bold and generous – and the remaining public investment hangs in the balance. Higher Ground Saint Paul has been open for just a few short months and is already changing lives. The true promise of this transformational vision must be completed. Now is the time to fully fund Dorothy Day Place.”

Dorothy Day Place
Dorothy Day Place is a $100 million vision for the Dorothy Day Center in Saint Paul. The new vision is based on an innovative and proven model in Minneapolis which is also run by Catholic Charities.

  • Phase 1 – Higher Ground Saint Paul: The first phase of the new vision—Higher Ground Saint Paul—opened in January 2017 and offers 473 people experiencing homelessness a place to sleep, including both dignified shelter and permanent housing.
  • Phase 2 – Saint Paul Opportunity Center and Dorothy Day Residence: The second phase consists of a six-floor, 50,000-square-foot building to be built on the site of the current Dorothy Day Center. The building will include the Saint Paul Opportunity Center, an integrated, one-stop location connecting people to critical services to improve their health, income, housing stability, and well-being. Services will be provided by a variety of community partner organizations, including Catholic Charities, Ramsey County, the Veterans Administration, and health care providers. The building will also include the Dorothy Day Residence, 177 permanent housing units above the Opportunity Center. Catholic Charities hopes to complete construction on the Saint Paul Opportunity Center in early 2019.

The project is the largest public-private partnership in state history in housing and social services, securing broad support and funding from both public and private sources.

History and Project Timeline
The Dorothy Day Center opened in Saint Paul in 1981 as a drop-in center for meals. Over time, due to increasing homelessness, the center transitioned into an overnight shelter – something it was never designed or intended to do. More than 6,000 people relied on the Dorothy Day Center each year, including hundreds of people who slept on thin mats on the floor every night. In 2011, for the first time in its history, Catholic Charities was forced to turn people away from the Dorothy Day Center, leading people to camp in the surrounding area. This was a breaking point that launched a community response. In 2012, Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman convened a diverse task force of community leaders to assess the urgent situation of overcrowding at the Dorothy Day Center, and in 2013 the task force issued its recommendation for an innovative new vision to prevent and end homelessness.

For more information, including how to get involved, visit

About Catholic Charities of Saint Paul and Minneapolis
Catholic Charities of Saint Paul and Minneapolis serves those most in need. We are a leader at solving poverty, creating opportunity, and advocating for justice in the community. Our programs for children, families and adults annually help nearly 30,000 people, regardless of faith, background or circumstance. Through our advocacy efforts, Catholic Charities serves as a tireless voice for those who often go unheard. Our work would not be possible without our dedicated volunteers and donors. More at .

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