Mission & Strategy

The Initiative Foundation’s mission to serve the people of Central Minnesota hasn’t wavered since its inception in 1986. Its goal is to inspire hope and to create opportunity through its mission:

To empower people throughout Central Minnesota to build a thriving economy, vibrant communities and a lasting culture of generosity.

Our Vision


We have an abundance of talented people and job-creating enterprises in our region that contribute to inclusive economic growth and vitality.


We are a region of robust, highly engaged communities where people choose to live, work, give and play.


People across our region give generously of their time, talent and resources.

Contact Us

The Initiative Foundation is a hybrid workplace. Staff members are in the office on Mondays and available by appointment Tuesday through Friday.

Region & Service Area

The Initiative Foundation’s 14-county service area includes Benton, Cass, Chisago, Crow Wing, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Pine, Sherburne, Stearns, Todd, Wadena and Wright counties and portions of the Native nations of the Leech Lake and Mille Lacs Bands of Ojibwe. We are proud to serve more than 750,000 residents. Our region is diverse in its population, environment and economy. Each hometown and Native community has its own unique character and local assets.

Our History

The 1980s were a bleak time for rural communities. Minnesota’s prime agricultural region was facing its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Farmers were losing land their families had owned for generations. Businesses along Main Streets and industrial parks were closing. Homes were being foreclosed. Families were moving away. People were losing hope.

Minnesota Initiative Foundations

Leaders at the McKnight Foundation based in Minneapolis saw what was happening in Greater Minnesota and wanted to help. After traveling the state to listen, learn and connect, they knew the solutions would come by empowering local communities to chart their own way forward. In 1986, they provided the initial funding to start the six Minnesota Initiative Foundations, and from that effort the Initiative Foundation based in Little Falls was born.

Today, we’re an independent foundation supported by individuals, families, businesses and organizations who want to strengthen Central Minnesota.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Our Commitment to You and the Region

Through multiple decades of service to the region, the Initiative Foundation and its staff remain acutely aware of the inequities that led to our organization’s creation—and of others inequities that have arisen over time. Reflecting on what challenges and opportunities we are well-equipped to address, along with how we have learned to catalyze positive change, we, the members of the Board of Trustees of the Initiative Foundation, conclude the following:

The values of diversity, equity and inclusion have long been central to the work of the Initiative Foundation, and dedicated efforts to advance these values make us more effective in accomplishing our mission to empower people to build thriving communities and a vibrant region across Central Minnesota.

We seek to live these values in part because we believe this is the right thing to do. In addition, our decades of on-the-ground experience aligns with the vast body of literature showing that businesses and other organizations that embrace these values are simply more effective in achieving the things they set out to do.

Therefore, as we reflect proudly on the past and look with hope toward to the future, we affirm:

  • We are blessed to live in this beautiful region we call home.
  • We gratefully acknowledge the Native peoples on whose ancestral homelands we gather, as well as the diverse and vibrant Native communities who make their home here today.
  • We are committed to regularly examining our priorities, policies and practices to ensure alignment with the values of diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • We are dedicated to advancing the Initiative Foundation’s mission, for the sake of current and future generations.
  • We are convinced that achieving something so important does not afford us the luxury of exclusion, but rather calls upon each of us to work together in a spirit of mutual respect and collaboration.

Our Diversity Statement

For a full version of the Initiative Foundation’s diversity, equity and inclusion statement, please contact MaryAnn Lindell, director of administration.