Vibrant and Equitable Communities cohort 2022
The first cohort of the Vibrant and Equitable Communities program was held in 2022.

Grants Near $3 Million in Second Half of 2022

LITTLE FALLS, MN—The Initiative Foundation delivered $2.84 million through 341 grants during the second half of 2022.

A partnership with the Otto Bremer Trust funded 87 grants totaling $725,000 to some of Central Minnesota’s small businesses affected by the pandemic. The special grant program focused on businesses owned by people of color, women, veterans, and those located in smaller communities and rural areas.

The Initiative Foundation also provided traditional support to nonprofits, schools and local units of government through Partner Fund and Innovation Fund grants.

The third- and fourth-quarter effort included several partner-based grant distributions:

  • Thirteen grants for a total of $727,932 were awarded in four communities as part of the Minnesota Main Street Economic Revitalization program. The funding is supported by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), which allocated $4.5 million to the Initiative Foundation for Central Minnesota economic development opportunities.
  • Five grants for a total of $25,000 were awarded to nonprofit participants in the Initiative Foundation’s Vibrant and Equitable Communities cohort, funded by the McKnight Foundation. This year-long program featured tailored trainings for nonprofits led by or serving people of color.
  • Five grants totaling $147,000 were awarded for clean energy projects through the McKnight Foundation’s Midwest Climate & Energy program.
  • Grants totaling $103,628 were awarded to businesses and homeowners affected by a June 2022 flood in Randall. The Funders Network provided additional funding for three grants totaling $10,000 to businesses in the Eagle Bend area affected by a May 2022 tornado.
  • A $40,000 Otto Bremer Trust grant was awarded to the Brainerd Family YMCA to develop a property that will help the organization add additional childcare slots.
  • A $26,000 grant awarded to the Northern Waters Land Trust and supported by a grant from the Morgan Family Foundation will be used to explore the use of financial incentives and land easements to preserve woody biomass as a means of capturing carbon before it enters the atmosphere.

Through its Innovation Fund, the Initiative Foundation awarded 46 grants totaling more than $284,000. The grant awards support a Brainerd affordable-housing program; Spanish-language interpreting services in Long Prairie; and a wellness center study in Cambridge. See the full list of grantees.

Initiative Foundation-hosted Partner Funds awarded 176 grants during the second half of 2022 totaling more than $748,000. Among other efforts, these grants supported furniture for Sherburne County families in need; a program to enhance the lives of senior citizens in Morrison County; and a fundraiser project at the Delano Public Library. See the full list of grantees.

“The Initiative Foundation prides itself on serving as a resource magnet for the region, helping to attract funding from partners outside the region that we can then invest into Central Minnesota nonprofits, businesses, and local units of government,” said Matt Varilek, Initiative Foundation president. “The grants awarded during the second half of 2022 are a great example. The Foundation is honored by the opportunity to award these grants to a wide range of businesses and nonprofits thanks to generous support from Minnesota DEED, the McKnight Foundation, the Otto Bremer Trust and individual and business donors.”

View the summary below for highlights of Innovation Fund and Partner Fund grants for the second half of 2022. For a more comprehensive listing, visit

Innovation Fund Awards

The following organizations were among those receiving Initiative Foundation grants from July to December 2022:

  • City of Sandstone—Workforce Housing Development: $10,000 to support preliminary design and feasibility analysis for converting the former Sandstone School into affordable workforce housing.
  • Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Cloud—Financial Literacy Education: $5,000 to support financial planning and literacy with low- to moderate-income seniors in Central Minnesota.
  • Faith in Action—Cass County Community Health Connections: $5,000 to support Cass County Faith in Action to build knowledge of community resources in the rural, low-income area it serves.
  • Wadena Development Authority—Lead for Wadena Fellowship for Artisan Economic Development: $4,000 to support a Lead for Minnesota student for a second year to organize community development opportunities around a creative economy theme.

Partner Fund Awards

The Initiative Foundation hosts a variety of Partner Funds for families, businesses, nonprofits and volunteer-led groups. The following grants were among those made by our Partner Funds from July to December 2022:

  • Greater Pine Area Endowment: $7,500 to Sleep in Heavenly Peace, Inc., to purchase beds for children in need.
  • Staples Motley Area Community Foundation: $2,500 to the Central Minnesota Council of Boy Scouts of America to redevelop scouting programs.
  • Three Rivers Community Foundation: $2,000 to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota for youth mentoring.
  • Black Oak Getty Foundation: $1,000 to Centre Mat Youth Wrestling Club to purchase safety equipment.

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