Happy Pride Month! All kids deserve kind, safe, welcoming places to grow.

Discovering historical perspective

History inspires us to create a better future. At Washburn, our history informs today’s work.

A legacy of innovation is attuned to the communities’ needs. It’s how Washburn and children’s mental health has evolved in our world.

In 2014, Washburn Center completed a $24.5 million capital campaign and opened an expanded, nature-infused facility in North Minneapolis. The expansion of services, partnerships and offerings is a hallmark of our history and the hope for a stronger future.

Explore a brief history below, or dive into a detailed history.

Evolving and meeting community needs

While the names and services have changed over time, Washburn Center for Children has remained focused on Cadwallader Washburn’s compassionate, inclusive 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 dive into a detailed history.

Washburn Center’s History: Evolving to Meet the Community’s Needs


Cadwallader C. Washburn, co-founder of the milling company that has since become General Mills, founded the Washburn Memorial Orphan Asylum after a mill explosion left several children orphaned.


After the orphanage closed in 1924, the nonprofit began providing services for children in foster care.


Washburn Memorial Clinic opened as a mental health clinic, laying the foundation for Washburn Center to become the leading children’s mental health center in the state.


The agency changed its name to Washburn Center for Children and, in the following year, received the Nonprofit Excellence Award from the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits.


Having doubled the number of children served, Washburn Center opened a new facility in North Minneapolis that offered even more Twin Cities children a place to grow and heal.