MRAC Evolve: We are Growing!

Image description: The header image from CLUES – Comunidades Latinas Unid as En Servicio shows a paper flower installation in a rainbow.

In this Issue:

  • MRAC is Growing!
  • Meet Mirella
  • Meet Sam
  • Meet Yong
  • MN State Arts Board survey
  • Arts Impact for Individuals applications due October 4
  • American Rescue Plan grants for MN arts organizations

MRAC is Growing!

Kathy Mouacheuapo, Executive Director

I am so happy to announce and welcome three new members to MRAC’s staff team!

Hiring is so much more than job descriptions, resumes and interviews – it is an entire process of organizational reflection and searching for missing pieces to a whole. There is consideration not only for skills needed, but perspectives, life experiences, and the ability to bring new ideas to an already very dynamic team.

After several months of searching, we are so excited and relieved to share that Mirella Espino will be joining as a Program Director, Sam Stahlmann as the Panel and Events Manager, and Yong Her as an Organizational Support staff.

Meet Mirella

Mirella Espino, Program Director

Image description: The image is of Mirella, a Latina woman with dark hair pulled back, wearing earrings with cream-colored fringe and a white sleeveless blouse.


Hi! My name is Mirella Espino (Spanish pronunciation). I will be joining MRAC as the newest Program Director.

As a former grant-writer for a large holistic, culturally-specific nonprofit, I was immersed in a specific organization’s mission, vision, culture, and programming. During that time, I came across artists and other individuals that had never applied for a grant or were unsure of what the grant writing process even looked like.

With so much beauty, creativity, and talent in our communities, I see my role as humanizing this process, encouraging underrepresented groups to apply, and being a support person to our applicants. I look forward to meeting everyone, learning more about your work, community impact, and getting these funds out into the community.


Hola! Me llamo Mirella Espino. Seré la nueva Directora de Programas en MRAC.

Como recaudadora de fondos para una organización sin fines de lucro, holística, y culturalmente específica bastante grande, me inmersé en la misión, visión, cultura y programación de una organización específica. Durante ese tiempo, conocí artistas y otras personas que nunca habían solicitado fondos o que no estaban seguros de cómo funcionaba el proceso de recaudar fondos.

Con tanta belleza, creatividad y talento en nuestras comunidades, veo mi papel como humanizar el proceso, motivar a los grupos subrepresentados a aplicar y apoyar a nuestros solicitantes. Espero conocerlos, aprender más sobre su trabajo, su impacto en la comunidad, y sacar estos fondos a la comunidad.

Meet Sam

Sam Stahlmann, Panel and Events Manager

Image description: The image is of Sam, a white woman with a short blonde choppy bob haircut, wearing gold hoop earrings and a black sleeveless blouse.

Sam Stahlmann­ (she/her/hers) is a musician and organizer from the Twin Cities. She is passionate about creating an intersectional music and arts community, and strives to uplift the voices and art of folks who have historically been silenced. Sam has worked in the arts nonprofit world for over eight years, serving as Co-Executive Director of She Rock She Rock and the Director of Development & Marketing for KFAI community radio. She also currently serves on the Nominations Committee for the Girls Rock Camp Alliance, an international membership network of youth-centered arts and social justice organizations. She is so excited to be joining the MRAC team to help continue to equitably increase arts access to our region.

Sam plays guitar, bass, and sings in local, DIY bands.  She loves touring, traveling, and listening to stranger’s stories. When she’s not busy with music, or a global pandemic keeps her from it, Sam enjoys cooking, reading and snuggling with her cat, Ned. Sam currently lives in Minneapolis on the land of the Dakota people.

Meet Yong

Yong Her, Organizational Support

Image description: The image is of Yong, an Asian woman with shoulder-length black hair wearing a black blouse.

My name is Yong Her. One of my first loves was the arts. I attended the Minneapolis College of Arts and Design, Augsburg College, and graduated from Metropolitan State University, with a degree in Individualized Studies. Within these institutions, I learned drawing, painting, photography, graphic design, ceramics and sculpting. The majority of my career has been working in non-profit organizations. One of my first jobs was at Compas Arts Organization. It gave me the opportunity to see the successes and struggles of working artists. From an organizational perspective, it allowed me to facilitate artists teaching their craft and skills to a host of students across Minnesota. In an educational setting, arts is always one of the courses cut when there are budget shortfalls. With the programs at Compas, I saw how the arts can and do bring communities together, foster creativity, imagination, and pride. Every year they would have a celebration and book printing of selected artworks and writings from students. Parents would bring their children from rural Minnesota to St. Paul, and you could see the smiles and feel the excitement.

My interest in working at MRAC is the opportunity to volunteer and be part of an organization which supports individuals, groups and organizations within the Metro region, and its suburbs. Even though I’ve worked in the non-profit world for many years, I spent a lot of those as a coordinator at the Bush Foundation and in an administrative capacity in other organizations. This is my way to re-engage with the arts, the community and my creative side. In my spare time, I greatly enjoy reading, gardening, biking and the great outdoors. Hopefully, I will put my skills to better use, although I have been enjoying painting peg dolls and small sculptures for my daughter. I look forward to engaging with the MRAC community.

MN Arts Board Survey

The Minnesota State Arts Board invites you to participate in a survey that will help inform decisions about future grant programs.

Click here to complete the survey.  This survey will take about 10 minutes to complete. Please complete the survey by Friday, September 17.

Because of COVID-19, the Arts Board suspended its existing project grant programs and transferred its grant resources into flexible programs so that artists and organizations could maintain connections with Minnesota residents. The Arts Board offered these programs for two years. It is looking ahead now, thinking about the kind of programs that might be needed to ensure that Minnesota residents and communities will continue to have access to the arts and creative activities they value.

Wilder Research is assisting the Arts Board with this survey. If you have any technical issues with the survey, please reach out to Dan Swanson at If you have questions about the survey content, please contact Ryan Evans at

Arts Impact for Individuals Grant Program

MRAC is offering a new grant program this year: Arts Impact for Individuals. The deadline to apply is Monday, October 4 at 11:59 p.m.

This grant provides support for artistic projects in Minnesota led by individuals who identify as Black, Indigenous, and/or a Person of Color (BIPOC); and/or a Person with Disabilities (PWD); and/or Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual/Agender, Two-Spirit (LGBTQIA2+) with grants up to $5,000. Individuals must have primary addresses in Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott or Washington county.

This grant is designed to support individuals leading efforts to create access to the arts for communities and/or engage with communities through artistic endeavors. Each project proposal must include a community component, such as an informal talk, workshop, public performance or exhibition, any of which may be presented virtually.

Before applying, access the grant information webinar, which covers funding, eligibility, program scope, and the details of applying for an Arts Impact for Individuals grant at MRAC.

Then, review the Arts Impact for Individuals grant guidelines, which are comprehensive and will help you to put together an application.


If you have general application questions or need technical assistance (for example help with resetting a password or logging into the grant interface), send an email to

If you would like to request a meeting with a Program Director to discuss eligibility and program intent and project idea development, or to receive other help with your application, fill-out the Arts Impact for Individuals application assistance meeting request form at the bottom of this page

American Rescue Plan Grant Program

In March 2021, Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, an economic stimulus bill intended to help speed up the recovery from economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The act included $135 million, allocated to the National Endowment for the Arts, to support the arts sector as it recovers from the devastating impact of COVID-19.

This significant financial commitment is recognition of the value the arts and culture sector contribute to the nation’s economy and recovery. American Rescue Plan Grants will help small to midsized Minnesota nonprofit arts organizations and arts affiliates support costs related to their employees or contractors, facilities, health and safety, and marketing or promotion. These are general operating funds that can be used to help the organizations rebuild and reopen as the COVID-19 pandemic wanes.

The Arts Board and Arts Midwest are collaborating to offer American Rescue Plan Grants. Arts Midwest is one of six regional arts organizations in the United States; it serves the nine-state Upper Midwest region that includes Minnesota. American Rescue Plan Grants will be distributed broadly, to help support the people and places that makeup the critical infrastructure of Minnesota’s arts community.

Grants will be a fixed amount – $15,000. No match is required.
Application deadline is Friday, October 29, 2021, before 4:30 p.m.

Information about this program and application guidelines are here

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