A legacy of generosity

Thriving community, an Ober family legacy

Born Agnes Dagmar Maas Elmer in 1887, the founder of the Mardag Foundation experienced profound poverty after the death of her mother when she was just six. Her charitable spirit was rooted in her experiences and stayed with her even as her fortunes changed with the marriage to Saint Paul businessman Edgar Ober.

Agnes understood that few people face the depth of poverty she endured as a child, and that experience was never far from her memory no matter how great her wealth in later years. She and her husband, Edgar, were deeply involved in serving the community.

Today Agnes’ legacy lives on through the work of the Mardag Foundation, who strive to ensure a good life for the youth, families and older adults in our community.


Grants given in 2022

Supporting programming for youth, arts and older adults across Minnesota.


Dollars awarded

In 2022, Mardag Foundation awarded $2.65 million to nonprofits serving Minnesota.


Years of generosity

For 50 years, Mardag Foundation has invested in the well being of children, families and older adults.

History and Mission


Agnes Ober established the Mardag Foundation in 1969. Today, her descendants continue to honor Agnes' legacy by serving on the Foundation's board. Their leadership guides the work of the Foundation and its strategic focus on enhancing quality of life, inspiring learning, revitalizing communities and promoting access to the arts across the state of Minnesota.


The Mardag Foundation supports Minnesota nonprofits to remove barriers and create opportunities for low income or traditionally marginalized children, youth and families; older adults with barriers to living independently; and to build capacity of organizations supporting the arts and humanities.

"For over four decades, we have worked to continue the legacy that grandmother gave to her community and state. We hope that the foundation will continue to improve the lives of Minnesotans for many years to come."

Tim Ober

Four Native American children plant seedlings

What we have funded

Mardag Foundation supports a vibrant Minnesota through its support for low-income youth and families, older adults, and arts and culture.  Learn more about what the Foundation has funded.