Batcher Block Opera House Exterior
The Initiative Foundation awarded a grant to LEAP, Inc. 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.

Foundation Awards More than $576,000 During Second Quarter

LITTLE FALLS, MN—The Initiative Foundation delivered 120 grants during the second quarter of 2023 totaling more than $576,000. More than $273,000 went to support downtown revitalization projects in five communities. The Foundation also provided support to nonprofits, schools and local units of government.

The second-quarter effort included 12 grants for a total of $273,336 to support businesses in Brainerd, Cold Spring, Little Falls, Long Prairie and Pine River as part of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development’s (DEED) Minnesota Main Street Economic Revitalization program. When distributions are complete, the Foundation will have awarded a total of $4.5 million to established corridors in these five communities and St. Cloud.

The Initiative Foundation also awarded 19 grants totaling more than $179,000. The grants support healthy food in the St. Cloud area; a weekly after-school program in North Branch; and housing help and training for formerly incarcerated people. See the full list of grantees.

Initiative Foundation-hosted Partner Funds during the second quarter awarded 89 grants totaling more than $123,000. Among other efforts, these grants supported a varsity baseball mound for Milaca public school; free rides to summer youth activities in Wadena County; and reading education at Little Falls schools. See the full list of grantees.

“In the second quarter of 2023, we were proud to support nonprofits and local government units doing good work in Central Minnesota,” said Don Hickman, Initiative Foundation interim co-president. “The Initiative Foundation prides itself on serving as a resource magnet for the region, helping to attract funding from outside sources that we can then invest into the economy and communities of Central Minnesota.”

View the summary below for highlights of second-quarter 2023 Initiative Foundation and Partner Fund grants. See a more comprehensive listing here.

Initiative Foundation Awards

The following organizations were among those receiving Initiative Foundation grants during the months of April, May and June 2023:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Partner Fund Awards

The Initiative Foundation hosts a variety of Partner Funds created by families, businesses, nonprofits and volunteer-led groups. The following grants were among those made by our Partner Funds during the months of April, May and June 2023:

  • Greater Pine Area Endowment: $4,150 for playground improvements at Children of Joy Preschool.
  • Sauk Rapids-Rice Education Foundation: $1,500 for a Sauk Rapids-Rice school district reading program.
  • Braham Area Education Foundation: $4,095 to Braham-area schools for sustainable agriculture education.
  • Bluejacket Education Foundation: $2,000 to the Cambridge-Isanti school district for a cross-country skiing initiative.

To support efforts like these or to create your own Partner Fund, visit