A History of Strengthening Children

We’re built around a story of hope. For over 130 years, Washburn has served as a vital Twin Cities nonprofit and brought hope to struggling families.

Washburn Center for Children was founded as the Washburn Memorial Orphan Asylum in 1883. The orphanage was created by Cadwallader C. Washburn, co-founder of the milling company that has evolved into General Mills, after a mill explosion left several children orphaned.

After the orphanage closed in 1924, the Washburn Foster Home Placement Agency provided services for children going into foster care. In 1951, the agency responded to the changing needs of the community by establishing the Washburn Memorial Clinic to provide diagnostic services and treatment of children with learning and behavioral problems. In 2007, the agency changed its name from Washburn Child Guidance Center to Washburn Center for Children.

Evolving to Meet the Community’s Needs

While the names and services have changed over time, Washburn Center for Children has remained focused on Cadwallader Washburn’s compassionate vision to provide hope to children, “without question or distinction to age, sex, race, color or religion.”

Our story of hope has had a tremendous impact on thousands of children, their families and the entire community. Explore a brief history below, or read a more detailed history.