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Blandin Foundation awards $4 million in grants

GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. (Dec. 21, 2017) – During their winter meeting Dec. 14 and 15, Blandin Foundation trustees approved grants that strengthen rural Minnesota communities, including 50 grants totaling $2.6 million for a range of efforts of Grand Rapids and Itasca County area leaders.

Given heightened attention to the local economy and jobs, several ongoing and new grants awarded focus on supporting businesses and entrepreneurs with technical assistance, financing and education, product development and innovation.

Trustees also approved a series of two-year grants specifically for operating support of local organizations such as the Itasca Historical Society, Advocates for Family Peace, Habitat for Humanity, Judy Garland Children’s Museum, Marcell Family Center, and Ground Floor Youth Center.

Project grants and smaller donations funded a range of community-focused projects.  Examples include safety equipment for the Nashwauk Fire Department, Cohasset’s new multi-use community trail, Children’s First New Year’s Eve events, and development of after-school programming at Nashwauk-Keewatin.

“Strong, resilient and healthy communities that work for every resident are at the heart of Blandin Foundation,” said Kathleen Annette, Blandin Foundation president and CEO.  “Communities are better able to absorb challenges and harness opportunities because of hard work and skilled leadership here in the Itasca area.  The grants approved last week by trustees are a reflection of the many ways that local communities come together to design and claim their futures.”

As December is the annual meeting of the Foundation’s board of trustees, local CPA and resident Kris Ferraro was elected to the role of vice president, serving alongside board president Brian Nicklason for 2018.

Trustees also established the foundation’s 2018 budget.  In addition to its ongoing community leadership training, public policy programs, communications and convening, the Foundation will award nearly $12 million in grants and scholarships again in 2018, with at least 60 percent awarded in the foundation’s home communities of Grand Rapids and the greater Itasca County area.

Grant application details, as well as a complete list of Blandin Foundation grants back to its first in 1943, can be found online at


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