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Blandin Foundation awards $1.9 million in grants

GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. – During their recent spring meeting, Blandin Foundation trustees awarded grants that strengthen rural Minnesota communities, including 26 grants totaling $1.2 million for a range of efforts of Grand Rapids and Itasca County area leaders.

“Communities that reach their fullest potential are those that work for all residents,” said Dr. Kathleen Annette, president and CEO of Blandin Foundation. “Grants sought and approved this spring address structural barriers that individuals and communities face as they seek opportunities in education, employment and community leadership – all vital components of a healthy community. There is a lot of innovation here, and we are proud to stand with these leaders as they do such important work.”

The newly formed Boys & Girls Club of Grand Rapids and Greenway will offer essential services to area youth ages 6-18, including access to basic needs, like food and clothing, and connection to high-quality on-site programs focused on academic success, good character, citizenship and healthy lifestyles. Blandin Foundation trustees awarded a $308,000 grant in support of this work. In addition to a wide range of regional support, formal partners in this effort are Itasca Area Community Education, Independent School Districts 316 and 318, and KOOTASCA Community Action.

Minnesota Diversified Industries (MDI) will invest in a key piece of equipment that will improve operational reliability and capacity in order to increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities with the help of a $100,000 grant. Starting with conversations in the 1980s that led to MDI’s Grand Rapids and Hibbing plants, Blandin Foundation has invested nearly $11 million in investments and grants in support of MDI’s work.

Trustees also approved a $375,000 grant to Itasca Community College for sustained financial aid for the 2017-18 school year. These education grants help students complete a two-year, quality education close to home by alleviating many of the barriers that could prevent them from seeking higher education. Students attending ICC may apply for these grants directly through its financial aid office.

Among several other local grants this grant round were support for City of Cohasset’s study of competitive rail access, Hill City’s continued early childhood programming, Northland Counseling’s developing residential and crisis facility for children, Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans’ support for veterans, Advocates for Family Peace’s emergency assistance for victims of domestic violence, Deer River’s White Oak Society, First Call for Help of Itasca County’s emergency supports, and Grace House’s homelessness prevention and guest supports.

Among grants provided beyond the Itasca area was $110,000 in support of the Tribal Sovereignty Institute at the University of Minnesota Duluth. The Institute is piloting a tribal governance program in support of tribal leaders and administrators as they serve their communities with effective and efficient service and leadership.

Advocates for Human Rights provides information, support and tools for rural Minnesota communities standing up to hate. A $50,000 grant supports this work.

The complete list of Blandin Foundation grants, including those going back to the first in 1943, can be found online at



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