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Image: (c) John Connelly

Blandin Foundation announces nearly $2 million in education grants

GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. – Blandin Foundation trustees continued the organization’s long-standing support of Itasca County-area students in two recent grant awards.

Trustees increased to $1 million funds for need-based scholarships for the 2012-13 school year. 

“Blandin Foundation Education Awards help to fill funding gaps so that every local student has an opportunity to pursue education beyond high school at an accredited college, university, technical college or community college in the United States,” said Wade Fauth, vice president and director of grants for Blandin Foundation.  “In approving this increase and an earlier increase for scholarships available directly through Itasca Community College, the trustees recognized that cost of education is rising at the very time competition for financial aid is rising.”

The organization’s longest-running program, Charles Blandin first issued scholarships through the Blandin Foundation in 1956.  Since then, 13,938 Itasca area students have received $19.3 million in Blandin Foundation Education Awards.  High school seniors and continuing students graduating from area high schools (those in Itasca County, plus Hill City, Blackduck, Northome, Chief Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig, Northern Lights Community School) are eligible for these need-based scholarships.  Details are at

Applications for the 2012-13 awards will be available through the Foundation website and office as of Jan. 1 and are due May 1, 2012.  

Trustees also approved a $750,000 grant to the Itasca Area Schools Collaborative (IASC) that will help to build the core technological infrastructure available to classrooms throughout the IASC region (Deer River, Grand Rapids, Greenway, Nashwauk/Keewatin, Hill City, Remer, Floodwood).

According to Matt Grose, superintendent of Deer River School District 317 and chair of IASC, this shared investment in technology will allow local districts to offer students “immersive” classrooms with the region’s educators and world’s knowledge at their fingertips.  “This will enable IASC to accelerate the work for transforming teaching and learning, utilizing 21st Century tools to empower 21st Century learners,” said Grose.

Remer, Nashwauk-Keewatin and Deer River have been testing the technology and systems that will be made available throughout IASC with the help of the Blandin Foundation grant.  For example, these three schools have shared language classes in Spanish and Ojibwe.  Other IASC districts will develop classrooms next year that will allow shared learning and 21st Century experiences for students, collaborative professional development, and the sharing of staff, resources and thinking.

“From my perspective, this grant demonstrates the long-term commitment and dedication that area school districts, school boards and superintendents share to ensure that all learners have world-class educational opportunities,” said Mark Adams, superintendent of the Greenway and Nashwauk-Keewatin Public Schools and co-leader of the IASC technology team.  Adams shares Grose’s optimism for the possibilities these technology investments will make available to educators, children, families and whole communities.  “As we prepare young people for jobs that have not yet been created, and for problems that have not yet been identified as problems, it is imperative that we share a vision that progressively takes all school districts into the 21st Century.”

“It’s absolutely clear that the path to opportunity, vital economies and strong communities begins with excellent education for every child,” said Kathy Annette, president of Blandin Foundation.  “These school districts working together will make opportunities available for their communities that would not have been possible to do individually.  We are delighted to be able to partner with Itasca area organizations, communities and families to invest in possibilities.”

Superintendents and other leaders in the IASC region shared details of their technology plans and other strategic directions at a public event on Nov. 1, 2011.  Visit their website, , for highlights of these presentations.

Full listings of Blandin Foundation grants and its grant-making guidelines can be found at



Blandin Foundation strengthens rural Minnesota communities by investing in community leaders and working with partners to expand opportunity for all rural residents, especially in the Grand Rapids area.  Located in Grand Rapids, Minn., it is one of only a handful of foundations in the U.S. focused exclusively on rural communities and the largest rural-based private foundation in Minnesota.  Information on Blandin Foundation grant-making, leadership development programs and public policy initiatives is at

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