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Image: Image for News Item: Blandin Foundation awards $5.3 million in grants

Blandin Foundation awards $5.3 million in grants


Local grants focus on expanding opportunities through education, water quality investments


GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. (July 5, 2011) – Trustees of Blandin Foundation issued $5.33 million in grants at its June board meeting.

Area communities will be strengthened through several grants focused on early childhood support and education, most notably the Invest Early™ initiative.  Trustees continued the Foundation’s long-term commitment to Invest Early with a two-year grant of nearly $4 million.

Invest Early is a comprehensive early childhood collaborative in Itasca County that serves young children and their families with risk factors that may impede school success. Children qualify for Invest Early educational and family support services based on a combination of risk factors and income. The core services consist of early childhood education, parent education, health services and extended day care.  Invest Early impacts and services are highlighted on their website,

“Itasca area communities can be very proud of their investments in our youngest neighbors,” said Jim Hoolihan, Blandin Foundation president and board member of Minnesota’s Ready4K initiative.  “Together we have forged partnerships to make sure that every child has an excellent start in life—no matter what the educational, social or governmental barrier.  Invest Early already has shown that this kind of comprehensive investment in a whole family returns savings and successes to our communities.   Itasca County people have demonstrated great leadership and lead the way for Minnesota and the country.”

A grant of $100,000 to ServeMinnesota in support of youth literacy in the Itasca area also was approved by trustees.  This two-year grant supports 10 skilled AmeriCorps volunteers dedicated to the literacy of Itasca area youth.

Remer-Longville and Hill City communities received grants to continue their early comprehensive early childhood work similar to that in Itasca County through Invest Early.  The two-year grants are $160,000 for The Northland Early Childhood Collaborative in Remer-Longville and $150,000 for the Hill City School District. 

Itasca Family YMCA was awarded $120,000 in operating support.  This reward reflects a significant increase in the Foundation’s traditional funding for the YMCA and reflects the growing demands for this programming in the community and corresponding demand for scholarships. 

A major driver for local economic vitality and quality of life, a grant of $155,000 also was approved in support of work by the Itasca Water Legacy working group to strengthen local water research capabilities, engage local residents, and assess the economic value of high quality water resources to the area. 

Full listings of Blandin Foundation grants and its grant-making guidelines can be found at


Photo caption: Invest Early is an Itasca area program that serves young children and their families with risk factors that may impede school success.

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