2022 Electric Vehicle event in St. Cloud.
The Initiative Foundation is sponsoring the Elk River ElectriFUNcation & EV Test Drive Event in Elk River on Aug. 5. Pictured: The July 2022 EV Day held in St. Cloud.

Initiative Foundation Awards $1.5 Million-plus During First Quarter

LITTLE FALLS, MN—The Initiative Foundation delivered 130 grants during the first quarter of 2023 totaling more than $1.5 million. More than $963,000 went to businesses to support downtown revitalization projects in six communities. The Foundation also provided support to nonprofits, schools and local units of government.

The first-quarter effort included several partner-based grant distributions:

  • Twenty-nine grants for a total of $963,000 to support businesses in Brainerd, Cold Spring, Little Falls, Long Prairie, Pine River and St. Cloud 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 reinvest in downtown corridors in those six communities.
  • Seventeen grants totaling $77,000 in collaboration with the Minnesota Department of Education and the Governor’s Emergency Education Response to organizations and childcare facilities that are working to support vulnerable children who are recovering from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Three grants totaling $27,000 from the McKnight Foundation’s Midwest Climate and Energy program. The grants support energy conservation efforts in Menahga; woody biomass research in the Walker area to capture carbon before it enters the atmosphere; and an electric vehicle and clean energy showcase day in Elk River.
  • Four grants for a total of $20,000 to support organizations participating in the Initiative Foundation’s Vibrant and Equitable Communities cohort for nonprofits. The program is partially funded by the McKnight Foundation.

The Initiative Foundation also awarded 17 grants totaling more than $95,500. The grants support a student intern to research housing needs for those facing homelessness in the St. Cloud area; services for domestic violence victims in Crow Wing County; and a workforce housing summit hosted by the United Way of Central Minnesota. See the full list of grantees.

Also in the first quarter of 2023, Initiative Foundation-hosted Partner Funds awarded 59 grants totaling nearly $348,000. Among other efforts, these grants supported numerous scholarships for high school students; animal acquisition at the Pine Grove Zoo in Little Falls; and rides for low-income seniors in the Brainerd area. See the full list of grantees.

“In the first quarter of 2023, we leveraged partnerships and resources to deliver support to where it is most needed,” said Don Hickman, Initiative Foundation interim co-president. “Thanks to great partnerships with Minnesota DEED, the McKnight Foundation and more, we can deliver even more funding to businesses and nonprofits in Central Minnesota.”

View the summary below for highlights of first-quarter 2023 Initiative Foundation and Partner Fund grants. For a more comprehensive listing, visit ifound.org.

Initiative Foundation Awards

The following organizations were among those receiving Initiative Foundation grants during the months of January, February and March 2023:

  • 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 client needs.
  • Community Growth Fund, Inc.—WAVE/Saludos Center Phase Two: $5,000 to provide liaison and advocacy work in Long Prairie.
  • Bridges of Hope—Strategic Facilities Planning: $5,000 to support planning for facility improvements.
  • Kanabec County Economic Development Authority—Senior Housing Market Study: $2,500 to support a housing study to encourage private investment in senior housing.

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 during the months of January, February and March 2023:

  • Lakes Area Medical Development Fund: $5,000 to Lakes Area Interfaith Caregivers to provide rides for income-eligible seniors.
  • Patriot Foundation: $4,000 to Pequot Lakes School District for digital art-making supplies.
  • Paula and Chad Becker Fund: $3,000 to Browerville Public Schools for agriculture education and athletics programs.
  • Staples-Motley Area Community Foundation: $1,000 to support the Staples-Motley High School speech team.

To support efforts like these or to create your own Partner Fund, visit ifound.org/ways-to-give/start-a-fund.