talent and treasure
Blythe Brenden represents the third generation of her family’s personal investments of time, treasure and talent in worthwhile causes. For many people, being connected to a cause or organization is more than just going to an event or sitting on a board. It is being a part of the process and on a much deeper level. Nonprofits should find new ways to connect with the community and engage them by allowing them to be involved in a meaningful way. Blythe’s philosophy of giving includes supporting and mentoring a new generation of philanthropists and nonprofit leaders.
The foundation was established in 2005 and awarded the Corporate Citizen Award
from the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital in 2018.
Blythe Brenden, a catalytic philanthropist and dedicated community leader, is the founder of the Blythe Brenden-Mann Foundation. The foundation is dedicated to medical research and discovery, education and innovation, integrative health and prevention, women and children and arts education.
Blythe has been an active fundraiser and advocate for organizations such as the Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Bravewell Collaborative, Public Radio International, YWCA, Artspace and The Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts. Blythe has chaired capital campaigns for The Cowles Center and Abbott Northwestern Hospital’s Institute for Health and Healing.
Blythe currently serves one the board of directors of the American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science (ACWIS), Weizmann Institute of Science International Board, The University of Minnesota Foundation, and the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital Philanthropic Board. She is also on the executive board of ACWIS and co-chair of Women for Science. Blythe also is a member of Women Moving Millions.
“I lived and breathed philanthropy from a young age, and my grandfather was the source of that. He believed in giving back and being connected to the community, and he transmitted that to all of us.”
Blythe also was inducted into the Weizmann Institute of Science President’s Circle in 2016. She received the American Red Cross Morton’s Women of Spirit Award in 2007 and was inducted into the Twin Cities Volunteer Hall of Fame in 2005. Blythe graduated from Pepperdine University and holds a Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Southern California.
Blythe is inspired by the legacy of her grandfather, Ted Mann and mother, Dr. Roberta Mann. Their creative risk taking has made a huge impact in the community arts we are still enjoying today.
Ted Mann’s success story is the classic example of hard work and integrity. As a teenager in Minneapolis, he became enamored of the movies and spent his summers as an usher. After attending the University of Minnesota, he started his theatre career by first renting and then purchasing the Selby Theatre in Saint Paul. By the age of 40 he acquired 25 more theatres and drive-ins before selling the Minnesota chain to General Cinema in 1970.
Mann next moved to Los Angeles, where he tried his hand at movie making and continued his theater career. In 1973, he purchased the troubled National General Theatre Company, which included the famous Grauma’s Chinese Theatre, and renamed it Mann Theatres. He expanded from 276 to 450 screens before selling to Paramount Pictures, where he remained its Chairman until 1991.
Mann was married to actress Rhonda Fleming, who appeared in over 40 films. Mann’s philanthropic spirit led to the creation of the Ted Mann Foundation. He helped found the Boys and Girls Club of Minneapolis, and the Landmark West School for children with learning disabilities in Los Angeles. In 1993, he made a transformational gift to build the Ted Mann Concert Hall at the University of Minnesota. He also supported Mount Olivet Lutheran Church’s Rolling Acres; UCLA’ Resource Center For Women with Cancer; Pepperdine University; Make-A-Wish Foundation and Variety International among others.
Dr. Roberta Mann Benson followed in her father, Ted Mann’s, footsteps and became an active leader. A noted philanthropist and community leader, Roberta served in leadership roles locally and nationally. She was on the Board of Governors for the Boys and Girls Club of America before becoming the first woman president of the Minneapolis chapter. She was a board member of the Minnesota Symphony Orchestra, and a Trustee of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. She also served on the board of the United Way of Minneapolis and was a Century Legacy Donor.
Roberta was an active volunteer and generous supporter of the Pacer Center where she founded the Ted & Dr. Roberta Mann Foundation Symposium about Children and Young Adults with Mental Health and Learning Disabilities.
In 2004, she co-founded Abbott Northwestern Hospital’s Institute for Health and Healing. In 2006, Roberta received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor for her accomplishments and generosity. At the age of 70, Roberta received a Doctorate degree in Education from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota.
Roberta’s love of people and commitment to those who knew her, are what set her apart as a philanthropist. She was described as larger than life and her life-long love of travel and learning,
My philanthropy will reflect my own VALUES, as well as those of my mother, Roberta Mann and my grandfather, Ted Mann.
The communities in which I live, work and play are where I will make the most significant investments of my TIME, TALENT AND TREASURE.
I want to be actively and AUTHENTICALLY engaged in the causes that are most important to me. I do not want to be treated like a checkbook.
I intend for my investment to LEVERAGE the involvement of others and the expertise of the organizations to find workable solutions to complex problems by working collaboratively to make a lasting impact.
I will invest in INNOVATIVE, ambitious ideas and out-side-of-the-box thinking.
The foundation may choose at any time to support organizations that do not meet the our funding priorities. The Blythe Brenden-Mann Foundation will invite organizations to apply and does not accept unsolicited proposals. The Foundation only makes grants to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations.