Party Pics: Constellation Fund’s Bright Night at First Avenue

The free virtual event raised more than $2 million from 235 donations in just 90 minutes
Ujamaa Music Group opens the evening with a performance of their song “Bright Night,” which they wrote for the event. UMG’s members first met during music therapy sessions at Ujamaa Place, a St. Paul social service agency for Black men and a grantee of the Constellation Fund.

Photo by Michael J. Spear

On Thursday, May 20, the Constellation Fund hosted its first-ever benefit, Bright Night, which streamed live from the mainstage at First Avenue.

Constellation was founded in 2018 to bring a more evidence-driven approach to poverty alleviation to local philanthropy, harnessing the power of analytics alongside on-the-ground community insights to find, fund, and empower the nonprofits shown by evidence to be creating the biggest impacts in the fight against poverty. The organization’s modern, innovative approach has resonated, quickly attracting the support of a diverse group of business and community leaders and allowing the organization to double its fundraising total in each of its first years of operations. Constellation’s metric-backed work also allows it to measure the impact of that generosity: on average, the nonprofits that Constellation supports are projected to turn every dollar that they receive into over five times worth of long-term health and wealth improvements for individuals and families experiencing poverty in the Twin Cities. And since Constellation’s Board of Directors pays for the organization’s operating costs, 100% of its own donations are invested into these nonprofit partners.

The momentum behind Constellation’s vision for an updated approach to charity was on full display at Bright Night, a free virtual event that raised over $2 million from 235 donations in just 90 minutes. In keeping with the evening’s iconic venue, the program included performances from locally- and nationally-acclaimed musicians—Amos Lee, Kiss the Tiger, and Ujamaa Music Group, the musical arm of one of Constellation’s grantees, Ujamaa Place—and welcome remarks from Dayna Frank, the owner and CEO of First Avenue Productions. Other Bright Night speakers included: Susan Bass Roberts, the Executive Director of The Pohlad Family Foundation, Renay Dossman, the President of Neighborhood Development Center, and Andrew Dayton, Constellation’s founder and CEO.

A member of the First Avenue staff behind the controls during a Bright Night rehearsal.

Photo by Michael J. Spear

The First Avenue mainstage is ready to go shortly before the show begins.

Photo by Michael J. Spear

Lily Tung Crystal, the Artistic Director at Theater Mu and Bright Night’s host, takes the stage.

Photo by Michael J. Spear

The cameras are rolling as Susan Bass Roberts gives her remarks. Susan is the Vice President and Executive Director of The Pohlad Family Foundation, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Constellation Fund.

Photo by Michael J. Spear

A musical interlude in the program from Minneapolis-based rock band Kiss the Tiger.

Photo by Michael J. Spear

Renay Dossman, the President of the community development nonprofit and Constellation grantee, Neighborhood Development Center, gets settled on the stage before her remarks.

Photo by Michael J. Spear

Constellation’s founder and CEO, Andrew Dayton, makes the case for evidence-driven philanthropy.

Photo by Michael J. Spear

Nationally-renowned songwriter Amos Lee plays a headlining set from his home studio to help celebrate the $2 million dollars that were just raised to fight poverty in the Twin Cities.

Photo by Push Play Creative

Dayna Frank, the owner and CEO of First Avenue Productions, and Constellation’s Andrew Dayton on the floor of the iconic music venue.

Photo by Michael J. Spear

The Constellation Fund team outside of First Avenue before the show. From left to right: Susie Brown, Amal Karim, Cooper Hanning, Rose Carr, Kate Genereux, Tiffany Xiong, Andrew Dayton, Jose Diaz, and Ryan Petersen

Michael J. Spear

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