Charles K. Blandin Foundation — the formal name of Blandin Foundation — is a private foundation based in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. We are Minnesota’s largest rural-based and rural-focused foundation.
We are guided by terms of the will of founder Charles K. Blandin, who passed away in 1958 following distinguished careers in education, publishing and paper-making, including owning the Blandin Paper Company in Grand Rapids. Upon his death, Mr. Blandin wished that his assets be used to strengthen rural communities, especially the Grand Rapids area.
To accomplish this vision, Mr. Blandin established the foundation in 1941. The Charles K. Blandin Residuary Trust was established in 1958 as a legally separate entity responsible for investing and growing the assets of the endowment and the principal source of funds for the Foundation’s charitable activities.
Mr. Blandin’s Will and federal tax code are used to determine how much the Residuary Trust distributes to the foundation: either about 5 percent of the previous year’s noncharitable-use assets or 100 percent of the Trust’s income, whichever is greater. The Blandin Foundation is the sole beneficiary of the trust, and Residuary Trust income is the primary source of funding for the Foundation.
When Blandin Paper Company was sold in 1977, the Residuary Trust assets grew to approximately $77 million. As of December 31, 2018 the endowment stood at approximately $374 million.
Since the sale of the Blandin Paper Company in 1977, Blandin Foundation and the paper mill have been distinctly separate organizations; today, UPM based in Finland, owns the paper company. Blandin Foundation continues to be private and independent of the paper company.
Residuary Trust Governance
Two entities oversee Residuary Trust investments and disbursements: a corporate trustee who is a representative of the financial institution named in Mr. Blandin’s will (today Wells Fargo Bank N.A.) and an individual co-trustee. Since 1941, four individual co-trustees have served the Residuary Trust: William Oppenheimer, Jim Oppenheimer, Dr. Bruce Stender and, most recently, Jim Hoolihan. The co-trustee also is currently a member of Blandin Foundation’s board.
Mr. Blandin also required that compliance with his will be overseen by the St. Paul District Court. Every three years, the Residuary Trust reviews its accounts and disbursements before a judge.