Blandin Foundation awards $4.4 million in grants

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Blandin Foundation trustees approved during their June quarterly meeting 52 grants totaling $4.4 million that strengthen rural Minnesota communities.   Trustees also chose to extend by another 10 years and $21 million the Foundation’s decade-long investment in local early childhood programming for at-risk children and their families through the Invest Early™ initiative.

Invest Early braids initiatives and supportive resource streams for children ages 0-5 and their families, providing transportation, family development, extended day services and mental health support in addition to high-quality early childhood education.   Invest Early is governed by the Itasca Area Schools Collaborative, advised by a local family services collaborative, and operated by a multi-discipline Invest Early leadership comprised of representatives of KOOTASCA Community Action, Head Start, Itasca County Public Health, local school districts, Blandin Foundation and Itasca Community College.

Blandin Foundation initiated the Invest Early initiative based on community input in the 1990s.  Since then, the Foundation has invested more than $40 million in Invest Early—its largest grant investment ever.

Trustees also have awarded a grant to the Tiwahe Foundation, which is building an American Indian leadership alumni network across rural communities in Minnesota.   Tiwahe’s mission is to be a resource for giving and to strengthen American Indian communities by building capacity through leadership, culture, values and vision.   Tiwahe has created a model of collaborative philanthropy, engaging multiple funding sources.  Blandin Foundation’s grant of $225,000 over three years leverages support for this alumni network by several other Minnesota foundations, such as St. Paul Foundation, Bigelow Foundation and Headwaters Foundation.   Blandin’s grant also builds on its relationships and learning developed over 13 years with more than 500 reservation community leaders who have participated in its Blandin Reservation Communities Leadership Program.

Similarly, a grant awarded to the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits will strengthen Minnesota’s network of rural nonprofits.   Through $150,000 in support over three years, MCN will establish two additional chapters in southeast and northwest Minnesota, increasing access to quality nonprofit management training and capacity building resources for nonprofits.  Existing chapters serve Greater Minnesota from Duluth, St. Cloud and Mankato.  With these additional resources, MCN will continue holding statewide and regional nonprofit summits in Greater Minnesota, create local networking opportunities for nonprofit leaders, and continue to complete and disseminate annual research on the impact of nonprofits on Minnesota’s economy.

“Across rural Minnesota, we see every day what local leaders can do,” said Dr. Kathleen Annette, CEO and president of Blandin Foundation.  “Wise leaders know that creating a shared vision for the future, a vision arising from and embraced by the community, is the engine that powers change.  Through these grants and in many other ways, we are thankful to be able to stand with hopeful, rural communities and leaders who are accomplishing amazing things.”

Click to view a complete list of grants awarded during the June 2014 meeting.