Braham Event Center seniors helping seniors

Grants Awarded to Alleviate Loneliness, Social Isolation

The Initiative Foundation is pleased to announce the award of 25 grants across Central Minnesota for projects, programs, and community-building ideas that bridge differences and bring people together.

Originally touted as a one-time, $100,000 grant round to alleviate loneliness and social isolation, the Initiative Foundation adjusted the award total to $105,000 to ensure good and worthy ideas received funding. In all, more than 120 applications were submitted for the loneliness and social isolation grant awards.

“We want these grants to create good, to restore trust, to deepen relationships,” said Don Hickman, vice president for community and workforce development at the Initiative Foundation. “Our goal is to support innovative ideas that address the unique challenges we face—particularly in rural areas—to bring people together. If we can do that, this might be one of the best grant rounds we’ve ever awarded.”

From “Saturday Night Live” family programming in Cass Lake to practical skills-building classes led by active older adults in Delano—from changing a flat tire to making basic plumbing repairs—these special grants are expected to strengthen social bonds through shared experiences, events, or community gatherings.

Awards were granted to the following initiatives:

  • Community Action Respecting Elders (CARE), Foley: $3,300 to support four daylong art classes for seniors to expand arts education while building camaraderie with others. (Benton County)
  • Cass Lake-Bena Public Schools, Cass Lake: $5,000 to support twice-a-month “Saturday Night Live” programming for families. Activities include pickleball, board games, Ojibwe crafts, including beading and regalia-making, and other opportunities to encourage intergenerational engagement. (Cass County)
  • CentraCare, Long Prairie: $5,000 for transportation and programming activities to encourage intergenerational and intercultural engagement. (Todd County)
  • Central Minnesota Habitat for Humanity, St. Cloud: $5,000 to engage BIPOC and low-income students in the development of construction skills by working in homes in the Greater St. Cloud area. (Stearns County)
  • City of Delano: $5,000 to harness the wisdom of the community’s active older adults to teach practical skills classes like changing a tire, using a drill, growing vegetables, and basic plumbing. (Wright County)
  • Delano Area Council for Arts and Culture: $2,000 to create a community mural mosaic project that depicts the city’s history. The mural will be unveiled during Delano’s 2026 sesquicentennial celebration. (Wright County)
  • East Central Minnesota Pride, Pine City: $5,000 to plan and support a February 2025 “silver social” event to honor elders and pioneers in the LBGT+ communities throughout East Central Minnesota. (Pine County)
  • Great River Arts, Little Falls: $1,900 to support Music Makers for youth and an adult art club to provide activities for age groups known to struggle with loneliness and social isolation. (Morrison County)
  • Helping Hands Outreach, Holdingford: $5,000 to establish a “Walk with Ease” class to encourage older adults to use the Wobegon Trail as an asset for physical activity and social bonding. (Stearns County)
  • HIKE. LEARN. BE. INC., St. Stephen: $3,500 for “Nature Buddies: Bridging Generations Through Nature Connections” to bring young and old together in outdoor spaces to foster connections and create opportunities for shared experiences. (Stearns County)
  • Horizon Health, Inc., Pierz: $7,500 to launch the National Council on Aging’s Program to Encourage Active, Rewarding Lives (PEARLS) to provide resources and companions to help seniors combat depression and loneliness. (Morrison County)
  • Isanti County Commission on Aging, Cambridge: $5,000 to support programs and activities for seniors, including exercise, healthy snacks, transportation and instruction. (Isanti County)
  • Kanabec County Community Health, Mora: $5,000 for public programming to connect senior citizens and youth with community resources regarding mental health, inclusive activities, paths for building social networks, and additional activities to reduce isolation. (Kanabec County)
  • Kinship Youth Mentoring of Princeton, Princeton: $7,500 to bring individuals of all ages together to stage a free community theatrical production. Special effort will be made to incorporate individuals with disabilities. (Sherburne County)
  • Mille Lacs Lake Senior Activities, Onamia: $2,000 to provide a monthly meal, programming and social activities for senior citizens from Onamia, Malmo, Garrison, Isle, Milaca, Foreston and Deerwood. (Mille Lacs County)
  • OneCommunity Alliance, St. Cloud: $2,000 to support safe spaces, typically around meals, where community members can connect, share and support one another across cultures, generations, and any other differences. (Stearns County)
  • Paws + Claws Rescue & Resort, Hackensack: $4,000 to help Paws + Claws bring puppies, kittens, cats, and dogs to nursing homes and assisted living facilities once a month in a 40-mile radius of their location. (Cass County)
  • Pequot Lakes School District, Pequot Lakes: $2,000 to connect high school students and senior citizens to foster a range of skills and relationships that will help address loneliness. (Crow Wing County)
  • Pierz Public Schools, Pierz: $3,000 to support Pierz students in a partnership with “Kids Feeding Kids” in the Brainerd Lakes area to package food for the Pierz Food Shelf. (Morrison County)
  • Pine Center for the Arts, Pine City: $3,500 for monthly community gatherings that will include Lego® art, puzzle magic, clay art, jewelry, painting, soaps, etc. (Pine County)
  • Salem Lutheran Church, Deerwood: $4,000 for a monthly community meal to support senior fellowship opportunities. (Crow Wing)
  • Soup For The Soul, Inc., Mora: $5,000 for “Dishing Up Meals With a Side of Kindness” to support free and shared meals for adults and teens, low-income and housing-insecure individuals. (Kanabec County)
  • Project Optimist, St. Michael: $5,000 to support guided conversations and food to build social bonds and community connections among St. Cloud-area college students. (Wright County)
  • Wright County Historical Society, Buffalo: $3,800 to provide free monthly Creative Coffee Chats with themed topics and brief, informal presentations; creative activities such as butter-making; and the opportunity to share personal histories and stories. (Wright County)
  • Wyoming Area Creative Arts Community, Wyoming: $5,000 to provide transportation from senior living facilities to a local park to offer enjoy free creative arts programming. (Chisago County)