Transformative Funding grantees, Boys and Girls Club of the Leech Lake Area

Foundation Awards $1 Million-plus to Nonprofits

LITTLE FALLS, MN—The Initiative Foundation is pleased to announce the recipients of its Transformative Funding for Nonprofits program supported by generous funding from the Otto Bremer Trust. The 15 recipient nonprofits will receive awards ranging from $50,000 to $100,000 for a total of more than $1 million in support.

More than 70 nonprofits applied for this one-time funding opportunity to transform the support they provide to underserved communities in Central Minnesota. The pool ultimately was narrowed to 15 organizations from across the 14 counties and two sovereign tribal nations served by the Initiative Foundation.

“We are so appreciative of the Otto Bremer Trust for its generous grant support,” said Zach Tabatt, nonprofit development program officer at the Initiative Foundation. “These funds will enable our nonprofit partners to reach an even greater number of people who most need access to additional resources and services in the region.”

Projects range from a sweeping homeless shelter remodeling project in St. Cloud to bilingual advocacy services in Long Prairie to a business training program with long-term poverty-reduction implications for Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe youth.

“We were blown away by the applications we received,” Tabatt said. “It made for difficult choices, but we are confident the 15 recipients will continue to expand their reach as they put these funds to work.”

Transformative Funding for Nonprofits Recipients:

Anishinabe Legal Services, Inc.—Create Housing Education, Litigation Unit to Combat Homelessness
Grant award: $100,000
Tribal nation served: Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe

Anishinabe Legal Services will use its funding to address homelessness in the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe area through the creation of a housing education and litigation unit. The effort is expected to improve the lives of Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe tenants by providing legal representation and reducing dangerous housing conditions while also delivering landlord-tenant education about the eviction process. The Anishinabe Legal Services mission is to ensure equal access to high-quality legal assistance for historically underserved people living on or near Leech Lake, Red Lake and White Earth Tribal Lands and to project legal rights and tribal sovereignty.

Big Lake Community Food Shelf, Inc.—Building Transformation, Service Expansion
Grant award: $55,000
County served: Sherburne

The Big Lake Community Food Shelf will use its grant to make the current food shelf space more efficient, safe and inviting. The transformation will increase space for volunteers and create a more pleasant shopping experience for clients. A walk-in freezer and cooler will also be added along with increased storage shelf space. Ultimately, the funds will allow the food shelf to accommodate a projected 25 percent increase in clients needing support. The food shelf mission is to provide food and supplies for families in the Big Lake community and to direct them to other services in a manner that upholds individual dignity.

Boys & Girls Club of the Leech Lake Area—Youth in Business
Grant award: $60,000
Tribal nation served: Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe

The Boys and Girls Club of the Leech Lake Area will use its grant to support the Leech Lake Youth in Business project. The long-term poverty-reduction initiative will include a business incubator, business education from local institutions, and opportunities for youth to connect with some of the 37 local small businesses. The Boys and Girls Club hopes to kick off the project by testing business ideas at summer powwows. The mission of the Boys & Girls Club of the Leech Lake Area is to inspire and enable local youth to realize their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens.

Central Minnesota Community Empowerment Organization—Build Capacity to Enhance Effectiveness and Service Delivery
Grant award: $50,000
County served: Stearns

The Central Minnesota Community Empowerment Organization (CMCEO) grant will support hiring a deputy chief executive officer with a goal of delivering services and programs to more people within the communities it serves. Staff members hope to take the organization to the next level through increased collaboration among current and prospective partners. The mission of CMCEO is to support and empower Central Minnesota refugee and immigrant communities through service and advocacy.

Employment Enterprises, Inc., and Confidence Learning Center—Building Confidence and Employment Skills Together*
Grant award: $75,000
Counties served: Crow Wing and Morrison

Employment Enterprises, Inc., and Confidence Learning Center will partner to serve adults with cognitive and developmental disabilities through a hands-on educational program to promote job skills. The program will also aim to keep individuals engaged for longer periods of time to better equip them for the workforce. Employment Enterprises, Inc., provides opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities and mental illness. Confidence Learning Center provides recreation and outdoor opportunities to those with developmental and cognitive disabilities.

*This surprise grant was awarded during Sourcewell’s 2022 Nonprofit Impact Funding Review Day on Wednesday, June 8, in Staples.

Family Pathways—Access to Healthy Foods in Rural Communities
Grant award: $55,000
Tribal nation/county served: Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe/Mille Lacs County

This grant will help Family Pathways better serve clients in Mille Lacs County and in the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe’s sovereign tribal area by transitioning from a site-based food shelf model to a mobile food pantry, pop-up food markets and doorstep delivery. Some of the grant will be used to purchase a food-delivery van. Staff also plan to work with local colleges to end food insecurity among students. The Family Pathways mission is to work with communities to develop supportive, caring relationships to help people meet their basic needs. Family Pathways serves Chisago, Pine, Isanti, Kanabec and Mille Lacs counties.

Hands of Hope Resource Center—Bilingual Advocacy Services
Grant award: $75,000
County served: Todd

Hands of Hope Resource Center will use its grant to hire a bilingual advocate in Long Prairie to build trust and expand community resources. The advocate will respond to hospitals and communicate with law enforcement to support crime and abuse victims. The advocate also will provide education and other outreach in the Long Prairie area. Staff expect to serve at least 50 additional clients. Hands of Hope Resource Center provides education and promotes social change for those affected by crime and abuse.

Higher Works Collaborative—Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Learning Center
Grant award: $62,000
County served: Stearns

Higher Works Collaborative will use its grant to open the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Learning Center, a space where clients can attend workshops and trainings, engage in tutoring services, access a diverse and culturally competent library, and seek a safe and comfortable place. The facility will have multiple rooms named after African American historical figures. Staff also hope to hire a coordinator and purchase a passenger vehicle to transport visitors. The Higher Works Collaborative mission is to advance the lives and livelihoods of the Central Minnesota African American community.

Homeless Helping Homeless—Lincoln Center Remodeling and Expansion
Grant award: $100,000
County served: Benton

Homeless Helping Homeless will use its grant to remodel the Lincoln Center Shelter, a low-barrier homeless shelter on southeast Lincoln Avenue in St. Cloud. The remodel will add private, locked areas where individual clients can sleep and store belongings. Currently, clients sleep in a large room with office dividers that don’t allow for security or privacy. Current sleeping space will be converted to a dining and lounge area during the remodel. Showers and restrooms recently were installed with funds raised by St. Cloud State University students. Homeless Helping Homeless is an association of homeless and formerly homeless folks and their friends in the greater St. Cloud area. Members help each other find resources for food, clothing, transportation, housing and employment.

Lakes & Pines Community Action Council, Inc.—Advocate-Client Coaching Model
Grant award: $100,000
County served: Kanabec

The funds will be used to hire a consultant and train advocates to provide coaching services so they can better support clients through their transition from poverty to prosperity. Overall, staff members want to maximize services and develop a unified intake system to increase efficiency and instill client trust. The Lakes & Pines Community Action Council mission is to build prosperous communities by serving local families and individuals in their pursuit of self-reliance. The Lakes & Pines Community Action Council serves Aitkin, Carlton, Chisago, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs and Pine counties.

Lakes Area Habitat for Humanity—Leech Lake Tribal Workforce Housing
Grant award: $50,000*
Tribal nation served: Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe

Lakes Area Habitat for Humanity will use its grant as part of a $1.65 million project to build 15 homes on Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe sovereign tribal land. These homes could support up to 90 people—moving them to a safe and affordable place to live, which typically results in better health and educational outcomes. Additional funds for this project will come from the American Recovery Plan Act and the Blandin Foundation. Habitat for Humanity’s mission is to bring people together to build homes, community and hope.

*This grant includes $28,000 from Otto Bremer Trust and $22,000 from The Funders Network and its Philanthropic Preparedness, Resiliency and Emergency Partnership.

New Pathways, Inc.—Site-based Shelter Planning Project
Grant award: $60,000
County served: Isanti

New Pathways will use its grant to underwrite the first of two phases in establishing a permanent shelter for individuals and families experiencing homelessness. To date, New Pathways has relied on faith community partnerships to house those in need of shelter. The first phase of the shelter project involves a determination of site needs and evaluating prospective sites; selecting the best site and entering into a purchase agreement; developing a concept design to be used for cost estimates and to assess fundraising needs; raising funds and applying for grants. News Pathways, Inc., is a homeless shelter that helps clients achieve stability and find permanent housing in the Isanti County area.

North Star Family Advocacy Center—Pine County Engagement of Services
Grant award: $45,000
County served: Pine

North Star Family Advocacy Center will use its grant to expand to Pine County where it can serve even more children and vulnerable adult victims of sexual and physical abuse. The center delivers responsive, comprehensive assistance to clients with a focus on a whole family approach to care. The center’s mission is to listen, connect with and support families affected by abuse.

Oasis Central Minnesota—Housing Support and Housing Stabilization Service Enrollment
Grant award: $60,000
County served: Morrison

Oasis Central Minnesota will use its grant to enroll in two state programs: Housing with Support and Housing Stabilization Services. The enrollment will generate revenue streams to support Oasis Central Minnesota’s work to provide emergency shelter and case management to individuals and families experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity in Morrison County. Program enrollment will generate additional revenue to hire more support staff, which ultimately will lead to more resources for those facing homelessness and housing insecurity. The mission of Oasis Central Minnesota is to provide safe, temporary shelter for individuals and families experiencing homelessness and to connect clients with community resources.

Salem Lutheran Church—Improved Donation Storage and Processing
Grant award: $75,000
County served: Crow Wing

The grant to Salem Lutheran Church will partially fund remodeling at Salem WEST, which will result in quicker and more productive processing donations of household goods, space for clients to shop and increase efficiencies for volunteers. The organization will explore relocating The Mustard Seed, a thrift store that partially funds its work, to the current donation and processing facility. The transition, if deemed viable, will enable Salem WEST to expand the store footprint and increase sales. Salem WEST is an outreach of Salem Lutheran Church. Its mission is to work with local social services and nonprofit agencies to offer families the basic needs to set up a new home and find stability.

About the Otto Bremer Trust

The Otto Bremer Trust is a bank holding company and a private charitable trust based in St. Paul, Minn., that works at the intersection of finance and philanthropy. Created in 1944 by Otto Bremer, it is today one of the nation’s largest philanthropic organizations and is committed to supporting a better quality of life for residents of Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, and Wisconsin. OBT is the majority owner of Bremer Financial Corporation, a regional financial services company; manages a diversified investment portfolio; and operates Community Benefit Financial Company, a financial resources subsidiary. Since its founding, OBT has invested more than $841 million in people, places, and opportunities in the Upper Midwest. Visit