Tournament Competitors; Now Community Collaborators

Posted on November 14, 2016 by Jen Marcuson

logo-brackets-for-good-2016-twin-cities-1The final round of the 2016 BFG Twin Cities tournament came down to Spare Key and The Minnesota Law Enforcement Memorial Association (LEMA). Spare Key is an organization that provides assistance to families in crisis with critically ill or seriously injured children. LEMA supports families of fallen law enforcement officers when they have lost their lives in the line of duty. Despite similar missions to assist Minnesota families in need, the two organizations had only a limited knowledge of each other’s work before they found themselves head-to-head, battling it out to become the first Twin Cities champion.

In what was the highest-scoring final round of all the 2016 city tournaments, Spare Key edged out LEMA to win, but their match-up didn’t end there. After the tournament, LEMA President Jeff Beahen reached out to Spare Key. In the spirit of shared excitement for the successes both organizations experienced, a dialogue formed about how they could leverage the momentum of the tournament and create a partnership.

spare-key-logoSpare Key Executive Director, Erich Mische, noted that many people on their Board of Directors had been involved in government and public policy and had the privilege of working with the men and women of law enforcement throughout their careers. Because of that body of knowledge, they were pleased to learn of the profound work that LEMA does on behalf of those who are committed to protecting and serving communities throughout Minnesota.

lema_logoJeff said on behalf of LEMA that while they didn’t know Spare Key before the tournament, the more they learned, the more interest they had in their organization. He noted, “toward the end, we mentioned that if we had to lose, at least it would be to Spare Key, as we admired their mission and their passion for those they served.”

The outcome of the conversations between the two organizations was the creation of a program to provide housing grants to Minnesota Law Enforcement families with critically ill or seriously injured children in the hospital. Spare Key designated their $10,000 prize from winning the tournament toward this program and LEMA donated an additional $5,000 to Spare Key to be used for the initiative.

Erich said, “we believe it has made many families who might not otherwise know of Spare Key aware of our program and services. Equally important, those families have shared information about our program to others which we believe will ultimately result in Spare Key being an important resource to law enforcement families who have sick and injured children in the hospital.” He added, “one of our strategic goals and objectives for 2017 is to increasingly highlight the relationship with LEMA and more proactively promote our program to law enforcement families throughout Minnesota.”

Jeff stated that the new relationship, “truly opened our eyes to the value of working with other non-profits toward common goals. We have a whole new approach to our marketing and branding after Brackets for Good, and we are so extremely grateful for this experience.” The feeling is mutual for Erich, who said, “we are privileged to have come to know the individuals leading LEMA, and the families they serve”.

Congratulations to both Spare Key and LEMA for this incredible endeavor. Friendly competition is an incredibly powerful force for GOOD. We look forward to seeing what these two champion organizations can do together in their community.

It’s Competitive Giving. Everybody Wins.

Posted in Nonprofit Story, Twin Cities | Tagged 2016, champion, Nonprofit Interview, Twin Cities