Blandin Foundation awards $3.9 million in grants

Grand Rapids, Minn. — During their winter meeting Dec. 10 and 11, Blandin Foundation trustees approved grants that strengthen rural Minnesota communities, including 45 grants totaling $3.4 million for a range of initiatives underway in the Grand Rapids and Itasca County area.

Recipients this round include many of the Foundation’s longest-standing local partners.

Minnesota Diversified Industries is a manufacturing organization that provides meaningful job opportunities for individuals with disabilities. In 2013, MDI merged with Deer River Hired Hands, an organization with a similar mission, which offers recycling, lawn care services and more. Trustees awarded MDI $1,000,000 to relocate DRHH’s primary services from a substandard facility to a new local space, plus making space for future business expansion and an occupational skills training center.

Providing free and confidential crisis intervention, active listening, and information and referral services to all residents of North Central Minnesota, First Call for Help of Itasca County’s work will be boosted by a $100,000 in continued operating support over the next two years. Blandin Foundation has supported the work of First Call for Help since 1991.

ElderCircle links aging community members and their caregivers to programs, services, education and volunteer opportunities to keep them active, independent and in their homes longer. On their way to serving 5,000 individuals in 2015, ElderCirle’s demand continues to rise as more baby boomers retire. Their work will be supported in part by a $100,000 operating grant over the next two years.

As December was their annual meeting, trustees approved plans for 2016 including:

  • Grants of $12,600,000 at least 60 percent of which are reserved for the benefit of the Foundation’s home communities in the Itasca County area. Application deadlines for major grants are March 15, Sept. 15 and Dec. 15.
  • Education Awards of up to $4,500 per local student per year for education programs following high school, based on needs not met through family resources and other financial aid and scholarships. Applications always are due by May 1.
  • Continuing partnerships to strengthen the local community of nonprofits, their boards and their capacities to tackle local needs. Also supporting local leaders in hosting effective and inclusive community conversations.
  • Delivery of nine Blandin Community Leadership Program trainings, including a cohort from Grand Rapids. Other leadership programs in 2016 will include the Blandin Reservation Community Leadership Program trainings and Leaders Partnering to End Poverty.
  • Continuation of the Blandin Community Broadband Program, which focuses on nine Blandin Broadband Communities and offers a series of broadband-related grants.
  • Engaging rural partners in raising the voice of rural communities and demonstrating rural Minnesota’s vibrancy and relevance.
  • Ongoing active listening and attentiveness to the unique needs and opportunities in each Itasca area community.

“Local leaders pulling together to build a vibrant Itasca County – that is what Charles Blandin hoped for 75 years ago when he created his foundation and that hope continues to fuel our work today,” said Kathy Annette, Blandin Foundation president and CEO. “With strong community leadership and the right opportunities, great things happen. We see it happening every day in our communities and these grants are proof it will happen again.”

A full grants list can be found online at www.blandinfoundation.org. Local grants are printed in this edition of the HR

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