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Image: Image for News Item: Blandin Foundation awards $2.4 million in grants, honors Radecki

Blandin Foundation awards $2.4 million in grants, honors Radecki

GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. – During their spring meeting on June 14 and 15, Blandin Foundation trustees approved grants that strengthen rural Minnesota communities, especially the Grand Rapids area.

Forest researcher Howard Hoganson is leading a project to update the state’s 20-year-old forestry Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) with a grant award of $235,000 to the University of Minnesota’s North Central Research and Outreach Center in Grand Rapids.  A three-year project of Grand Rapids-based researchers, the forest GEIS is a critical tool used across the state to plan business development, forest management plans, etc.  The GEIS originally was conducted in the 1990s and is outdated, not reflecting significant changes in the past two decades such as the closure of the state’s oriented strand board mills.

Local horticulture research also will benefit by the University of Minnesota grant, with a portion focused on developing techniques at the North Central Research and Outreach Center that extend the growing season here and in other cold-weather climates.  Through this grant, researchers are developing inexpensive, solar-powered and reusable greenhouse structures that protect against the risk of frost in the spring and late summer, opening greater opportunity for family and commercial growers to contribute to the local food supply. 

The North Central Research and Outreach Center is the only hardiness testing site in the lower 48 states approved by the United States Department of Agriculture for Zone 3 cold weather.  Several highly successful foods, including Honey Crisp apples, have been developed at this facility.

Project Care also has received a grant award to support medical care for local patients who are uninsured or under-insured.  A collaboration of volunteering health care professionals, providers, and medication and drug assistance programs, Project Care currently serves patients at the former St. Josepth’s Catholic Church site in northwest Grand Rapids.  It is funded by grants and private donations from individuals and organizations.

“Clearly, local leaders are rising to the challenges—and opportunities—facing Itasca area communities,” said Kathy Annette, president and CEO for the Blandin Foundation.  “We stand with them, in whatever ways we can, as they build the resiliency of their communities and claim a future that is vibrant.  The June grants are a reflection of their hard work.”

A total of 110 grants totaling $2,404,200, including 98 that were less than $50,000 each, were approved by trustees at the June meeting.   Grant lists, guidelines and application deadlines can be found at the Foundation’s website,  The deadline for the Foundation to receive major grant requests for December consideration is Sept. 15.

Also in conjunction with the June meeting, trustees past and present gathered to honor Gene Radecki, who between 1999 and 2012 served as chief financial officer, interim CEO and trustee of the Blandin Foundation.  Gene, who was recruited to Grand Rapids 50 years ago to oversee Blandin Paper finances and had a front-row seat as the Foundation and mill became completely separate entities, retired from the Board of Trustees this spring.




Located in Grand Rapids, Minn., Blandin Foundation 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.  The Foundation seeks and supports vibrant rural Minnesota communities.  


Caption: Blandin Foundation trustees toured the Ground Floor program in central Grand Rapids during its June meeting.  Ground Floor, a drop-in youth center for area youth and a program of Itasca Youth for Christ, is a grantee of the foundation.  Featured are Duane Geisler, Kris Ferraro and Marian Barcus (front, trustees) and Bernadine Joselyn (back, Foundation staff).

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