History of MMAF

A brief history of the MMAF

The Minnesota Medical Association Foundation (MMAF) is the charitable arm of the Minnesota Medical Association. Gifts to the MMAF, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation, are tax-deductible to the full extent allowed by law.

Mission and Strategic Direction

The mission of the MMAF is to support the mission of the Minnesota Medical Association providing advocacy, information, education and leadership for Minnesota physicians and their patients. Under this broad mandate, the MMAF refined its focus adopting a new strategic plan in 2006. That plan calls for action in two specific program areas: providing financial support for medical students and improving access to medicine in underserved communities. The plan also called for the creation of a development office to build an ongoing program of financial support to advance the mission and goals of the foundation.


Founded in 1958, the MMAF, until its name change in 2007, was known as the Minnesota Physicians Foundation. Through the years, the greatest part of the foundation’s effort and resources went to providing low-cost loans to medical students. The foundation also supported a variety of other efforts in related to medicine and community health. After completing a strategic plan in 2006, support for medical students turned from loans into scholarships and a major effort was undertaken to improve access to high-quality health care in underserved communities.

MMAF Programs

Scholarships and programs that improve medical access in underserved communities are the key elements of the foundation’s work today. These programs, and the partners who help make them possible, are featured in other pages throughout this website.

Over the years, the foundation responded to changing needs in medicine and in the community at large. Here are a few highlights from the foundation’s past.

Rural and Urban Physician Loan Forgiveness

Thanks to you, more young physicians can chose to practice in medically underserved communities throughout Minnesota.  Through a unique partnership with the Minnesota Department of Health -  Office of Rural Health and Primary Care, MMA Foundation has provided additional support for the Rural and Urban Physician Loan Forgiveness programs.  As a result, six additional physicians practicing in medically underserved communities are now providing primary care to 13,000 additional Minnesotans!

One of the driving reasons for the creation of the MMAF in 1958 was a desire to provide financial support for medical students. This support took the form of student loans. Loan amounts were $2,000 to $3,000 per year and payment was deferred until after medical school and often until after residency. By 2006, however, medical students were facing annual tuition of more than $30,000 at the University of Minnesota, not to mention increasing housing costs and living expenses. The relatively small student loans were no longer making a meaningful difference, and in 2006, the MMAF decided to sunset the student loan program. From 1958 through 2006, more than 2300 medical students used these loans to help finance their medical education. Today, many of them are saying “Thanks” and giving back by providing annual support for the MMAF scholarship program.

Resources for Physicians in Crisis - For many years, the MMAF provided funds to assist physicians in crisis. The Physician Support program helped many physicians face and conquer alcohol or other chemical dependency issues, or weather crises that undermined their ability to perform at a high professional level. Eventually, other resources became available and requests for direct assistance from MMAF waned. The MMAF still assists those seeking assistance for themselves or for loved ones or co-workers, but that assistance is now primarily in the form of referrals to collaborating organizations. Over the course of nearly 40 years, MMAF helped as many as 200 physicians and their families through this program.

Disaster Relief – To accommodate an outpouring of physician support, MMAF handled contributions for the victims of natural disasters including the Red River flooding of 1997 and Hurricane Katrina. Today, the foundation recommends that contributions for disaster relief be contributed directly to nonprofit organizations like the American Red Cross or the Salvation Army that specialize in providing food, shelter and support to those affected by disaster.

Health Education – In 2006 and 2007, the foundation, with funding from the Medica Foundation and others, provided support for the play The Power of the Pyramid and the educational materials that go with it. The aim was to help school children understand the importance of good nutrition and regular physical activity. This program furthered the MMA’s effort to prevent childhood obesity and eliminate tobacco use. For more information, visit: 

Quality Review – In 2007, MMAF funded the launch of Quality Review, a publication of the MMA that shined light on the latest advances in the quality movement in medicine. Though Quality Review is no longer published in its original format, news and in-depth articles about quality issues continue to be reported by the Minnesota Medical Association through its website, www.mnmed.org, its weekly e-newsletter, MMA News Now, and the award-winning monthly magazine, Minnesota Medicine.

In the past, the MMAF and its physician and lay leaders have responded generously to the needs of physicians and the community at large. The MMAF continues to be attentive to the changing needs and the increasingly complex challenges facing medicine, even as it focuses on medical school scholarships and the needs of the medically underserved throughout Minnesota.


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