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Blandin Foundation awards $3.4 million in grants


GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. – During their winter meeting in December, Blandin Foundation trustees awarded grants that strengthen rural Minnesota communities, including 30 grants totaling $2 million for a range of efforts of Grand Rapids and Itasca County area leaders.

Among award recipients this quarter are many of the Foundation’s longest-standing local partners.

Grand Itasca Foundation is working to raise funds for expanded specialty services at Grand Itasca Clinic and Hospital.  A $650,000 grant from Blandin Foundation will support renovation of existing unused space so that the region’s residents will have increased access to oncology and other health services as part of Grand Itasca’s “Close to Home” initiative.

Blandin Foundation first provided grant support to Grand Itasca in 1958.  In 2002, trustees awarded the foundation’s largest single grant of $20 million in support of construction of the current facility. 

Itasca Community Television, Inc. was founded in 1983 by a handful of local leaders and continues to provide information and insight for Itasca area communities.  A $160,000 grant awarded by trustees will continue to support ICTV operations, building on 50 Blandin large and small grants totaling $1.6 million since 1989.

Legal Aid Service of Northern Minnesota also is a recipient of a $350,000 Blandin Foundation grant award for civil legal services for low-income Itasca County residents and for continued growth of the Itasca County Domestic Violence Court initiative.   Blandin Foundation has been a funding partner for local Legal Aid operations since 1987. 

While most Blandin grants awarded in December were for local organizations and initiatives, a handful of grants were awarded that will have statewide impact for rural communities, including local communities. 

The Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, the Greater Minnesota Partnership, Minnesota Asset Building Coalition and Growth and Justice are working together to engage leaders in rural communities, educate metro legislators about rural issues, and build a movement that brings sustainable business growth to all rural Minnesota communities and people.  Blandin Foundation trustees awarded a $200,000 grant to help spur this work.

Similarly, the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund works to strengthen rural Minnesota communities statewide through preservation and development of affordable housing.   The fund was created 20 years ago with support from Blandin and McKnight Foundations.  Blandin trustees awarded a $650,000 grant that continues the foundation’s support for Greater Minnesota Housing Fund’s critical work in rural Minnesota.

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

“As we wrap up our 75th anniversary year, we reflect on the leadership and legacy of our founder and benefactor Charles Blandin,” says Kathy Annette, president and CEO for Blandin Foundation.  “Surely Mr. Blandin could not have imagined in 1941 the committed and passionate leaders who could accomplish such great and important things through his generosity.  These recent grants are yet another testament to what is possible in rural Minnesota, through committed and skilled community leaders.”

Blandin Foundation will award nearly $12 million in grants and scholarships again in 2017, with at least 60 percent awarded in the foundation’s home communities of Grand Rapids and greater Itasca County area.  See the Blandin Foundation website for application details.



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