The Anika Foundation is a Minneapolis-based nonprofit that supports economic empowerment, voter engagement, and improved healthcare in African-American communities. It is named after its founder and Executive Director, Anika Robbins, a Civil Rights Commissioner for the City of Minneapolis.
Though the Anika Foundation is legally nonpartisan, its voter engagement, done mostly through the “Black Votes Matter MN” program, is often organized around center-left and left-of-center policies and candidates.
Founding and History
The Anika Foundation gives two different years for its own founding. According to its website, the foundation was established in 2009. 1 Its Facebook page, however, lists its establishment year as 2005. 2
Regardless, there is little to no information regarding the early years of the Anika Foundation. This would appear to be because (as was stated in an interview with foundation president Anika Robbins on the blog Visual Collaborative)its flagship program, Black Votes Matter MN, was created years later in mid-2016. 3
Prior to then, the Anika Foundation appears to have merely operated in a joint capacity alongside president Anika Robbins’s other businesses: the Robbins Urban Wellness Retreat and ANIKA Cosmetics. Its programs, primarily those involving health equity, were merely built into such preexisting structures, with many of the Foundation’s events being regularly held at the Robbins Urban Wellness Retreat and utilizing its services. 4
The Anika Foundation’s largest activity is its nonpartisan Black Votes Matter MN program. Reportedly inspired by Black Lives Matter, Black Voters Matter MN creates candidate profiles and attempts to whip out the African American vote for elections in Minnesota’s Hennepin County, of which Minneapolis is the county seat. 5
Presently, Black Votes Matter MN’s primary initiative is its “Will You Count?” program, which is designed to get African-American residents of Hennepin County to fill out the 2020 United States census. 6
Although it is legally nonpartisan, Black Votes Matter MN’s candidate profiles, especially those for top-of-ticket offices like Governor and Attorney General, use weighted language in favor of Democratic candidates. For example, it presented Republican gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson’s occupation simply as “Hennepin County Commissioner,” and labeled Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tim Walz’s occupation as “32 years total public service as Veteran, Teacher, Entrepreneur, and StateRepresentative [sic].” 7
On its home page underneath the “What should I do after the election?” tab, Black Votes Matter MN also asks its supporters to likewise support left-of-center “issue-based advocacy groups i.e. NAACP, ACLU, Teachers of Color, Restore the Vote.” 8
Apart from Black Votes Matter MN, the Anika Foundation runs the “Women Empowered-WE!” and “TEXTURE” programs, which educate women and young people on entrepreneurship, respectively. 9 For health equity, the Foundation utilizes the resources of the Robbins Urban Wellness Retreat for its “Quality of Life MN” program. 10
Though the Anika Foundation is a registered nonprofit, it does not have publicly available financial information. This is likely because the Foundation has historically had less than $50,000 in gross receipts and is not required to disclose a full tax return on IRS form 990, as do larger nonprofits.
The Executive Director of the Anika Foundation is Anika Robbins. She serves as Civil Rights Commissioner for the City of Minneapolis and is a member of Minnesota’s Complete Count Committee for the 2020 Census. 11
- “About.” The Anika Foundation . Accessed February 16, 2020. https://www.theanikafoundation.org/About.
- “The Anika Foundation.” Facebook. Accessed February 16, 2020. https://www.facebook.com/pg/The-Anika-Foundation-322940504485523/about/?ref=page_internal.
- “Anika Robbins.” Visual Collaborative, April 2019. https://www.visualcollaborative.com/anika_robbins/.
- “The Anika Foundation Events.” Facebook. Accessed March 2, 2020. https://www.facebook.com/pg/The-Anika-Foundation-322940504485523/events/.
- “Anika Robbins.” Visual Collaborative, April 2019. https://www.visualcollaborative.com/anika_robbins/. ; “Events: Black Votes Matter MN.” bvmminnesota. Accessed March 2, 2020. https://www.blackvotesmattermn.com/events.
- “Will You Count?: Black Votes Matter MN.” bvmminnesota. Accessed March 2, 2020. https://www.blackvotesmattermn.com/will-you-count.
- “Who’s on the Ballot: Black Votes Matter MN.” bvmminnesota. Accessed March 2, 2020. https://www.blackvotesmattermn.com/copy-of-who-s-on-the-ballot-1.
- “Home: Black Votes Matter MN.” bvmminnesota. Accessed March 2, 2020. https://www.blackvotesmattermn.com/.
- The Anika Foundation – Economic Empowerment. Accessed March 2, 2020. https://www.theanikafoundation.org/economic-empowerment.
- The Anika Foundation – Health Equity. Accessed March 2, 2020. https://www.theanikafoundation.org/health-equity.
- The Anika Foundation – Leadership. Accessed March 2, 2020. https://www.theanikafoundation.org/Leadership.