Grants Awarded

The Initiative Foundation makes grants for projects and programs that advance our mission to empower people across Central Minnesota to build a thriving economy, vibrant communities and a lasting culture of generosity.

We seek to make grants across the 14 counties and two Native nations of Central Minnesota.

2nd Quarter 2023 Foundation Grants

LEAP, Inc.—Batcher Opera House: $2,500 to assess the value of the historic Batcher Opera House so it can be purchased at a fair market rate and owned by the city of Staples or a local nonprofit.

Loaves and Fishes Too—Healthy Meal Access in St. Cloud: $5,000 to support access to healthy food in the St. Cloud area.

Boys & Girls Club of Central Minnesota—CareerSTART Program: $5,000 to support CareerSTART, a program designed to provide exploration, development and application of career paths for youth in kindergarten to 12th grade. The program helps students develop employment skills and prepare for their career of choice.

Kinship Partners, Inc.—Strategic Planning: $5,000 to support the development of a new strategic plan and implementation steps.

True Friends—Seasonal and Year-round Staff Recruitment: $4,600 to support recruitment activities to attract, hire, train and retain seasonal staff.

New Pathways, Inc.—Strategic Planning: $5,000 to support the development of a new strategic plan.

Wadena County Developmental Achievement Center, Inc.—Strategic Planning: $5,000 to support strategic planning.

Lakes Area Habitat for Humanity—Community Display: $5,000 to support a community display at Lakes Area Habitat for Humanity’s Restore. The display will provide education to the community on the history of housing in the Brainerd area.

ConnectAbility of Minnesota—Training and Visioning: $5,000 for staff and client training.

Mission 61, Inc.—General Operating Funds: $5,000 to build the capacity of peer-support specialists to address the urgent housing needs of historically disadvantaged populations.

Timber Bay, North Branch—Youth Investment Foundation’s Program for At-risk Youth: $5,000 to support a weekly after-school program.

Minnesota Council on Foundations—2023 Annual Conference Sponsorship: $5,000 to support the Minnesota Council on Foundations Annual Conference.

Chisago County Economic Development Authority—Core Childcare Committee: $10,000 to increase quality, affordable and economically sustainable childcare in Chisago County. This plan was developed with the guidance from community advisors and facilitated by First Children’s Finance.

Youth Following Our Lead—Summer Programming: $3,000 to support the summer program.

Central Minnesota Re-Entry Project—Access for Formerly Incarcerated Persons: $80,000 to help formerly incarcerated people find housing, develop life skills, gain credentials in the construction field and achieve successful job placement in Benton County over a three-year period.

City of Sandstone—Sandstone School Geo-Exchange Feasibility: $9,600 to support an assessment and cost-benefit analysis of geothermal and/or solar resources at the workforce housing complex under development by the city of Sandstone at a former school.

City of Wyoming—Downtown Plan: $5,000 to support an economic analysis and develop recommendations to foster downtown revitalization.

Brainerd Lakes Area Economic Development Corporation—Analytics Database Trial: $10,000 to provide the Brainerd Lakes Area Economic Development Corporation staff with tools and resources to support Crow Wing County business data requests.

City of Melrose—Comprehensive Plan Update and Strategic Planning: $5,000 to support the development of a new strategic plan and implementation steps.
Mille Lacs County Operation Community Connect: $1,000 to connect local families with community resources and services.

1st Quarter 2023 Foundation Grants

Central Minnesota Habitat for Humanity—Strategic Plan: $5,000 to support organizational capacity-building.

Family Safety Network of Cass County, Inc.—Services for Victims of Domestic Violence: $5,000 to support client services in rural Cass County.

Central Minnesota Housing Partnership—Continuum of Care Intern: $5,000 to support a student intern to identify housing needs for historically disadvantaged people by conducting data analysis and planning.

Community Aid of Elk River—Staff Growth and Development Project: $5,000 to evaluate staffing needs and work with a consultant to recommend models for staff to meet the needs of clients.

Crow Wing County Victim Services, Inc.—Direct Client Services: $5,000 to support crime victim services.

Amherst H. Wilder Foundation—Minnesota Compass: $5,000 in annual support to this critical source of unbiased statistical analysis of Central Minnesota’s key demographics and community vitality benchmarks.

Community Growth Fund, Inc.—WAVE/Saludos Center Phase Two: $5,000 to provide liaison and advocacy work in the Long Prairie community.

Regional Native Public Defense Corporation—Organizational Capacity Building Through Summer Intern Program: $5,000 to support a summer law internship opportunity to encourage students to pursue careers in criminal defense, broaden their understanding and application of law into practice for indigenous people and assist with overall organizational capacity.

Walker Area Food Shelf—Operational Enhancements and Technology Upgrades: $5,000 to support operations.

Bridges of Hope—Strategic Facilities Planning to Grow Bridges of Hope’s Capacity and Accommodate Organization Growth: $5,000 to support planning for facility improvements.

Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation—Project Optimist Community and Student Journalist Training: $5,000 to support a community and student journalists training program with instruction on basic and solutions journalism.

United Way of Central Minnesota—Workforce Housing Summit Sponsorship: $1,000 to support a presentation on workforce housing at St. Cloud State University on March 23, 2023.

Propel Nonprofits—Operating Support: $1,000 to support the work of Propel Nonprofits to build the capacity of nonprofits in Central Minnesota.

Anderson Center—Forum Scholarships: $10,000 to provide cost-share scholarships to private and nonprofit sector managers for management and leadership training opportunities through the Anderson Center.

Sourcewell—2023 Students of Character Sponsorship: $1,000 to support the 2023 Students of Character Celebration, held each year to recognize students who are quiet, behind-the-scenes leaders and may otherwise be overlooked for scholarships.

Youth Following Our Lead—Capacity building: $5,000 to support capacity-building efforts.

Meeting Points—Nonprofit Academy: Vibrant & Equitable Communities: $5,000 for capacity-building efforts supported by Initiative Foundation programming.

Lighthouse Beginnings—Nonprofit Academy: Vibrant & Equitable Communities: $5,000 for capacity-building efforts supported by Initiative Foundation programming.

Central Minnesota Re-Entry Project—Nonprofit Academy: Vibrant & Equitable Communities: $5,000 for capacity-building efforts supported by Initiative Foundation programming.

City of Menahga—Menahga Saves Energy: $5,000 for energy audits and the implementation of cost-effective investments, including renewable energy solutions.

Northern Waters Land Trust—Land Conservation Proposal Development: $7,000 to develop relationships, work plans and funding streams to permanently protect woody biomass to capture carbon before it enters the atmosphere.

City of Elk River—Recharge Elk River ElectriFUNcation and EV Test Drive Event: $15,000 for Elk RiverElectriFUNcation, an Aug. 5 electric vehicle event that will include test-drive opportunities and interactive displays that highlight Elk River’s Energy City status and raise funds for nonprofits.

Kanabec County Economic Development Authority—Senior Housing Market Study: $2,500 to support a housing feasibility analysis to encourage private investment in senior housing.

Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation—2023 Annual Investment: $25,000 to provide annual support to the largest economic development entity in Central Minnesota.

Main Street Economic Revitalization Grants

Through a partnership with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, the Initiative Foundation will award $4.5 million to six communities. In quarter 1 2023, the Foundation awarded 29 Main Street Economic Revitalization grants totaling more than $963,000.

Minnesota Department of Education Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Program

  • Rita K. Vetsch—Grocery Help: $1,500
  • Jenny’s Child Care & Preschool, LLC—Learning Recovery for Vulnerable Children: $5,000
  • Kind Hearts Daycare—Achieving Success With Staff Support: $2,000
  • Central Lakes College Food Pantry—Parental Support Program: $2,000
  • Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota—Crisis Nursery Serving Wright County: $8,500
  • Lora Nielsen-Henry—Healthy Bodies and Healthy Minds: $5,000
  • Brainerd Family YMCA—Learning Loss Recovery: $7,500
  • WonderTrek Children’s Museum—Mobile Early Childhood Programs: $2,000
  • Mille Lacs Health System—Onamia-area Learning Recovery for Vulnerable Children: $7,500
  • United Way of Central Minnesota—Neighborhood-based Literacy Initiative: $7,500
  • Charlotte Brown—Char’s Daycare: $1,500
  • Busy Bees Daycare—Innovative Produce Project: $1,500
  • Marcia M. Hegg—Greenhouse Project: $1,000
  • Family Life Church of the Assemblies of God—Food Assistance Scholarship Program: $7,500
  • Patricia Orth—Helping Underserved Rural Children to Catch Up to Their Developmental Age Level: $2,000
  • The Yes Network—Supporting Learning Recovery Through STEM and Social Play in Central Minnesota Neighborhoods: $7,500
  • Cambridge Isanti School District—Gearing Up for Kindergarten: $7,500

The Funders Network Disaster Relief

  • Lakes Area Habitat for Humanity—Leech Lake Tribal Nation Support: $250

Past Initiative Foundation Grants

The Upsala Elementary School playground received a grant to upgrade the equipment thanks to the Morrison County Area Foundation, a Partner Fund of the Initiative Foundation.
The Staples-Motley Area Community Foundation supported a 2022 Back to School Fair.

2nd Quarter 2023 Partner Fund Grants

The Initiative Foundation hosts more than 130 Partner Funds for families, businesses, nonprofit organizations and volunteer-led groups. In 2022, Partner Funds awarded 447 grants for a total of $1.7 million.

Rum River Community Foundation

  • Milaca School District—Replacement of Hurdles: $800
  • City of Milaca—2023 Milaca Parade: $600
  • Arrows Family Services—Youth First: $1,000
  • Trinity Lutheran Church of Milaca—Milaca Wolves Snack Pack Program: $1,000
  • Milaca School District—Milaca Do-abetic Pack: $600
  • Milaca Public School—Varsity Baseball Mound: $1,000
  • Save the Brays Donkey Rescue—Save the Barn: $500

The following grants were awarded to the city of Milaca:

  • 2023 Milaca Parade: $600
  • Milaca Recfest & Activities: $600
  • Milaca Trail System Rest Area Benches: $1,000
  • Milaca Senior Center Ongoing Activities: $500

Greater Pine Area Endowment

  • Changing Gaits, Inc.—Youth Guidance: Two NEVER Alone Again.: $612
  • Pine Dragons Parent Teacher Organization—End of Year Appreciation Events: $1,250
  • Children of Joy Preschool—Playground Improvement Project: $4,150

Staples-Motley Area Community Foundation

  • Staples-Motley School District—REACH, Building a Leadership Community in the Classroom: $1,500
  • Motley Community Events Organization—June Fest 2023: $4,900
  • Wadena County—Free Rides for Summer Recreation/Activities: $1,500
  • LEAP, Inc.—Staples-Motley GradBlast: $4,150
  • LEAP, Inc.—Barn Quilts & More: $1,700
  • City of Motley—Converse Park, Skatepark: $2,000
  • Faith Lutheran Church—Back to School Fair 2023: $3,000
  • Staples-Motley School District—High School Reality Store: $1,250
  • Staples Area Men’s Chorus—Little Red Caboose 2023: $1,200

Hackensack Lakes Area Community Foundation

  • Hackensack Game Changers—Neighbor Helping Neighbor Community Clean-up Project: $800
  • Hackensack Game Changers—Hackensack Community Garden New Storage Shed: $250
  • SNIP-Spay & Neuter Impact Program of Central Minnesota: $750
  • Northwoods Arts Council—2023 Musical Events: $500
  • Pine Mountaineer Senior Citizens Club—Community Support: $500
  • Paws & Claws Rescue & Resort—Walking Path: $500

Cambridge Area Community Foundation

  • Allina Health, Cambridge—Happiness Advantage Initiative: $3,695

Julius & Tracy Kurpius Fund

  • Central Lakes College Foundation—Living Legacy Garden: $1,800

Sauk Rapids-Rice Education Foundation

The following grants were awarded to the Sauk Rapids-Rice school district:

  • Reading is for Everyone: $1,500
  • Third-grade Engineers: $510

Little Falls Education Foundation

  • Morrison County Food Shelf—General Operating Support: $1,000

The following grants were awarded to the Little Falls school district:

  • Functional Life Skills: $1,500
  • Bringing Dramatic Play into Kindergarten: $1,500
  • Enhanced Learning in Middle School Physical Education: $1,013
  • Let’s Meet our Sensory Needs: $1,300
  • Supplies for Independent Living and Vocational Skills Classes: $600
  • Reading Adventures: $1,500

Lake Region Christian School Education Foundation

  • Lake Region Christian School—General Operating Support: $1,207

Albany Area Education Foundation

The following grants were awarded to the Albany-area school district:

  • Battle of the Books: $500
  • Project Build-a-better Library: $500
  • Mission Ukulele: $775
  • Collaboration Space: $1,225
  • Outdoor Classroom Resources: $500
  • Fire-up My Detroit Diesel: $850

Braham Area Education Foundation

The following grants were awarded to Braham area schools:

  • Long Lake Conservation Camp: $2,000
  • Hydroponics and Sustainable Agriculture: $4,095
  • S.M.A.R.T. Training: $2,240
  • Braham High School Student Support: $750

Memorial Hospital Foundation

  • North Star Family Advocacy Center—Foster Parent Appreciation Sponsorship: $500

Royalton Education Foundation

The following grants were awarded to the Royalton school district:

  • Preschool STEM and Literacy: $450
  • Kindergarten Life Skills and Social-Emotional Supports: $350
  • Science Department Anatomy Models: $1,274
  • Academic Enrichment: $250
  • STEM Kits—Lego, Snap Circuits and Magnets: $250
  • Academic Enrichments: $400
  • Young Learners: $1,400
  • Preschool Social and Emotional Skills: $450
  • STEM Building and Brain Puzzle Ideas: $258

Bluejacket Education Foundation

The following grants were awarded to the Cambridge-Isanti school district:

  • Woodworking—Building a Cedar-strip Canoe: $1,000
  • STEM/STEAM Cart and Lego Wall Initiative: $1,500
  • Cross-Country Skiing Initiative: $2,000
  • Mole Day, Chemistry Demonstrations, Third-grade Demonstrations: $1,500
  • Kiln Shelves for Drippy Glaze and Glaze Experiments: $2,000
  • Mobile Grow Carts: $1,350
  • ProStart Program: $1,000

Lakes Area Medical Development Fund

  • Park and Library Foundation of Crosslake—Pine River Overlook Park: $4,000

Brainerd Public Schools Foundation Early Childhood Fund

  • Brainerd Public Schools Foundation—Early Childhood Support: $1,500

Onamia Early Childhood Endowment Fund

  • Mille Lacs Health System—Story Time Fun at Onamia Depot Library: $1,100

Pillager Education Foundation

The following grants were awarded to the Pillager school district:

  • Book Vending Machine: $1,000
  • Author Workshop: $600
  • Word Work for Kids: $500
  • Elementary Music Garden: $3,000

Playing it Forward: The Kenneth and Evelyn Pinckney Young Musicians Fund

The following grants were awarded to the Little Falls school district:

  • Podium Award for the Northwestern University Wind Conducting Symposium: $1,200
  • Spotlight Music Camp Award for MMEA All-State Symphonic Band: $270
  • Spotlight Award: Shell Lake Jazz Camp 2023: $1,150
  • Spotlight Award: Bemidji Music Camp 2023: $2,325
  • Friends of Linden Hill, Inc.—Music Sponsor: A Midsummer Soiree 2023: $250
  • Great River Arts—Markets and Music on the Mississippi: $1,000

Paula and Chad Becker Fund

  • Friends of Chimbote—General Operations: $2,500

Patrick and Jane Mitchell Family Fund

  • Sioux River Sportmens Club—Canton C-Hawks Trap Shooting Team: $1,000
  • Saint Benedict’s Monastery: $7,500
  • Quiet Oaks Hospice House—General Operating Support: $3,400

Shawn Grittner Memorial Fund

  • Little Falls Community School District—Shawn Grittner Memorial Scholarship: $1,000
  • Artesian Homes Charitable Fund
  • Pillager Family Council—Pillager Community Project: $2,500

Corey Borg-Massanari Fund

  • Silverton San Juan County Ambulance Association, Inc.—Supplies and Equipment: $1,000

1st Quarter 2023 Partner Fund Grants

Three Rivers Community Foundation

  • Elk River School District (ISD #728)—Three Rivers Community Foundation Scholarships: $22,500
  • Spectrum High School—Three Rivers Community Foundation Scholarship: $1,500

Staples-Motley Area Community Foundation

  • Sourcewell—2023 Students of Character Sponsorship: $1,000
  • LEAP, Inc.—2023 Sponsorship for the Staples-Motley High School Speech Team: $1,000
  • Lakewood Health System Foundation—2023 Night of Giving Venue Sponsor: $1,000

ILT Endowment Fund

  • Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation—Education for Underrepresented Founders: $10,000

Tollefson Scholarship

  • Pine City School District—Pine City High School Tollefson Scholarship: $15,000

Mary Jean Tillman Healthcare Scholarship Fund

  • Little Falls Community School District (ISD #482)—Mary Jean Tillman Healthcare Scholarship: $5,000

Irene Myres Memorial Endowed Scholarship Fund

  • Pequot Lakes School District (#ISD 186)—Irene Myres Memorial Endowed Scholarship: $1,200

Silver Lining Scholarship Fund

  • Little Falls Community School District (ISD #482)—Silver Lining Scholarship Fund: $500

Dorn Family Fund

  • Delano School District (ISD #879)—Dorn Family Fund Scholarship: $1,100

Bert and Helen LeBlanc Legacy Scholarship Fund

  • Central Lakes College Foundation—Bert and Helen LeBlanc Legacy Scholarship: $500
  • St. Cloud State University Foundation, Inc.—Bert and Helen LeBlanc Legacy Scholarship: $1,000

Archie & Isabelle Powell Family Memorial Scholarship Fund

  • Elk River School District (ISD #728)—Archie and Isabel Powell Family Memorial Scholarship Fund: $1,500

ZES Scholarship Fund

  • Elk River School District (ISD #728)—ZES Scholarship: $500

Sacred Heart Area School Endowment Fund

  • Sacred Heart Area School—Endowment Fund: $1,900

Staples Knights of Columbus Council #1803-Lloyd & Marion Giddings Scholarship Fund

  • Staples & Motley Dollars for Scholars—Staples Knights of Columbus Council #1803-Lloyd & Marion Giddings Scholarship Fund: $2,900

James & Susan Kurpius Fund for the Staples-Motley Dollars for Scholars

  • Staples & Motley Dollars for Scholars—James & Susan Kurpius Fund: $3,800

Minnesota Pioneer Park Endowment Fund

  • Minnesota Pioneer Park—2023 Operating Support: $1,000

Cuyuna Lakes Education Foundation

  • Cuyuna Lakes Education Foundation—Operating Support: $10,000

Lake Region Christian School Education Foundation

  • Lake Region Christian School Education Foundation—General Operations: $20,000
  • Lake Region Christian School Education Foundation—Operating Support: $2,000

Patriot Foundation

  • Pequot Lakes School District (ISD 186)—Digital Art Making: $4,000
  • Pequot Lakes School District (ISD 186)—Outdoor Exploration Kits: $1,000

Ellen McGregor Endowment for Education

  • Verndale Area Christian Academy—Ellen McGregor Endowment for Education: $15,000

Lakes Area Medical Development Fund

  • Advocates for Reproductive Education—GetFitFair and STI Testing Day hosted by WeARE Clinic at Central Lakes Community College: $3,000
  • Lakes Area Interfaith Caregivers—Rides for Low-income Seniors: $5,000

Bridges Manufacturing Workforce Development Fund

  • Bemidji State University—Scholarship for Louis Dean Gruber: $1,000
  • University of North Dakota—Scholarship for Chase Jackson: $1,000
  • Central Lakes College—Scholarship for Micah J. Olson: $1,000

The Bruske-Johnson Scholarship Fund

  • Isle School District (ISD 473)—The Bruske-Johnson Memorial Scholarship: $3,000

Edeburn Family Fund

  • Lazarus Project—Operating Support: $25,000

Paula and Chad Becker Fund

  • Christ the King Catholic Church—Church and School Operations: $10,000
  • Browerville Public Schools—Agriculture Education and Athletic Operations: $3,000


  • Crow Wing County Lakes and Rivers Alliance—General Operating Support: $3,800

Thrive Fund

  • Milestones Thrive Fund—2023 Disbursement: $6,900

Alternative Sources of Energy Fund

  • Milaca Scholarship Foundation—Alternative Sources of Energy: $4,350
  • Milaca School District (ISD 912) —Milaca High School Science Department: $1,450

Land and Waters Preservation Trust

  • Whitefish Area Property Owners Association—2023 Operating Support: $14,900

Colette & Paul Cameron Donor Advised Fund

  • Friends of Pine Grove Zoo—Animal Acquisition: $12,000

Beverly M. Pantzke Scholarship Fund

  • Little Falls Community School District (ISD 482)—Beverly M. Pantzke Scholarship Fund: $24,600

Mark Wood Foundation

  • Little Falls Community School District (ISD 482)—Mark Wood Foundation: $5,800

Paws and Claws Animal Shelter

  • Paws & Claws Rescue & Resort—Operating Support: $1,700

Little Falls Scholarship Fund

  • Little Falls Community School District (ISD 482)—Little Falls Scholarship Fund: $3,300

William & Ethel Nelson Zimmerman Memorial Scholarship Fund

  • Royalton School District (ISD #485)—William & Ethel Nelson Zimmerman Memorial Scholarship: $1,700

Betty Ford Menzel Scholarship Fund

  • Crosby-Ironton School District (ISD 182)—Betty Ford Menzel Scholarship Fund: $2,500

Shawn Grittner Memorial Fund

  • St. Cloud Technical & Community College Foundation—Shawn Grittner Memorial Fund: $1,100

Lake Region Conservation Club

  • Sullivan Lake First Response Team—Operating Support: $550
  • Hillman Area First Response Team—Operating Support Grant: $550

H. Eugene Menzel Scholarship Fund

  • Aitkin Dollars for Scholars—H. Eugene Menzel Scholarship: $1,600

Artesian Homes Charitable Fund

  • Lincoln Evangelical Free Church—General Operations: $30,000
  • Heritage Church—General Operations: $15,000
  • The Link—General Operating Support: $30,000
  • Pillager School District (ISD 116)—Pillager Huskies Fishing Team: $1,000

Corey Borg-Massanari Foundation

  • Central Lakes Search and Rescue, Inc.—Training Through FUNSARS/SARTECH II: $2,000
  • Northwest Human Remains Dectection—Advanced Training in Human Detection: $2,000

Fregin Foundation

  • Little Falls Community School District (ISD 482)—Fregin Foundation Scholarship: $1,000

Skolmate Fund for the Welfare of Animals

  • Morrison County Animal Humane Society—Operating Support: $1,600
  • Paws & Claws Rescue & Resort—Operating Suppport: $1,600

Past Partner Fund Grants