Hmong American Farmers Association One Of Seven Organizations To Win 2017 Bush Prize For Community Innovation


By Kathy Graves

On November 14th, The Bush Foundation awarded the 2017 Bush Prize for Community Innovation to seven organizations with a track record of making great ideas happen.

Now in its fifth year, the Bush Prize celebrates organizations that are extraordinary not only in what they do but in how they do it. As models of true problem solving, they work inclusively, in partnership with others, to make their communities better for all.

The Bush Prize is awarded annually in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and the 23 Native nations that share the same geography.

The 2017 Bush Prize winners are:


Appetite for Change, Minneapolis ($470,981)

Hmong American Farmers Association, Saint Paul ($247,425)

Latino Economic Development Center, Saint Paul ($500,000)

Northfield Healthy Community Initiative, Northfield ($200,064)

North Dakota

Fargo-Moorhead Coalition for Homeless Persons, Fargo ($68,762)

Vision West ND/Dunn County, Dickinson ($500,000)

South Dakota

Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation, Pine Ridge ($500,000)

“The Bush Prize recognizes organizations that are creative, fierce and dogged in the way they work and in what they accomplish,” said Bush President Jennifer Ford Reedy. “As models for problem solving, they consistently pick a path of innovation that drives profound results for their communities.”

Bush Prize winners receive a package that includes promotional support and materials, and an unrestricted grant equal to 25 percent of the organization’s prior fiscal year budget, up to $500,000.

The Foundation received 127 applications for the 2017 Bush Prize. Three panels of community members chose the winners from their respective states.

“The 2017 winners are unstoppable forces who show up every day determined to create collective solutions for their communities,” said Mandy Ellerton, Community Innovation Director. “They push through challenges and hardship for causes they care about, stirring up and inspiring much-needed change in the places they call home.”

Hmong American Farmers Association

Hmong American Farmers Association (HAFA) creates intergenerational wealth for Hmong farmers, who represent 50% of vendors in Twin Cities metropolitan area farmers markets. Founded and led by Hmong farmers, HAFA stands out as a grassroots organizer, thought leader and agitator for fairness and equity in urban agricultural practices. HAFA’s unique whole food model helps farmers access land, new markets, capital and credit, and provides vital business training and research to improve farm practices.

HAFA’s innovative food hub aggregates and sells farmers’ produce to educational institutions, health organizations and co-ops in the greater Twin Cities area. The organization also lobbied the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to create microloan programs for immigrant farmers and partners with community organizations to make sure Hmong farmers have the required business plans and financial documents necessary to access the loans.

Experimental yet solutions-oriented, HAFA understands that farming is a way of life for Hmong people, not just a way to make money. Cultural values, including working collaboratively, form the foundation for all the organization does to ensure economic justice for Hmong farmers.

Learn more about the Bush Prize for Community Innovation, including winners from previous years, at

About The Bush Foundation

The Bush Foundation invests in great ideas and the people who power them. The Foundation was established in 1953 by 3M Executive Archibald Bush and his wife, Edyth, and today works in communities across Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and the 23 Native nations that share the same geographic area. More information is available at