Skip to Main Content
Image: Image for News Item: Blandin Foundation awards broadband grants across rural Minnesota

Blandin Foundation awards broadband grants across rural Minnesota



GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. – Local leaders across rural Minnesota are forging access to and building use of high-speed Internet (broadband) in their communities.  Blandin Foundation announced today that it has awarded 32 new grants in support of their work.

Mille Lacs County is using GIS technology to overlay affordability data over existing broadband availability maps, the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa is hosting an app development camp, the City of Mora is equipping a tele-work center for telecommuters and after-school homework, Itasca Economic Development Corporation is building a loan fund for technology investments by local businesses, and Winona’s Project FINE is advancing digital literacy among immigrants and refugees and strengthening their connections to the broader community.  These and many other efforts across rural Minnesota got a boost this week through Blandin broadband grants ranging from $1,000 to $30,000.  [note to editor: a complete list of grants follows]

“We have the great privilege of standing with Minnesota’s rural leaders as they imagine possibilities for their communities,” said Dr. Kathleen Annette, CEO of Blandin Foundation.  “Access and use of high-speed Internet are absolutely core for the vibrant economies and quality of life these leaders seek for their communities, and these grants honor and support their progress.”

The Minnesota Broadband Task Force, in its annual report to the legislature released on January 27, described the imperative of broadband: “Today 74.5 percent of Minnesotans can access broadband at statutory goal levels….Significant change must take place for the 2015 goals to be reached.”  Most of the underserved households in Minnesota are in rural areas, according to task force’s maps and analysis.

“Despite gains in broadband access and use in rural Minnesota, the work of bringing the promise of the Internet to all people clearly is not done,” said Bernadine Joselyn, director of public policy and engagement for Blandin Foundation and its Blandin Community Broadband Program.  “Big policy questions must be answered in St. Paul and Washington.  In the meantime, local leaders are building partnerships and mobilizing their communities to compete and thrive in an even more connected world.  It’s thrilling to support their progress.”

Since making rural broadband use and access a focus in 2003, Blandin Foundation has partnered with leaders in more than 60 communities and 80 organizations across the state on various initiatives related to broadband access and utilization.  This work will be advanced and profiled in the “Border to Border Broadband: A Call to Action” conference on February 4 and 5 in St. Paul.  Blandin Foundation and 25 partners are sponsoring this event, which will be available live at Information presented at the conference also will be posted to

The next application deadlines for the next two rounds of Blandin Foundation broadband grants are April 4 and June 13, 2014.  Information is available at



About Blandin Foundation: Blandin Foundation works for vibrant rural Minnesota communities by investing in community leaders and working with partners to expand opportunity for all residents. Located in Grand Rapids, Minn., it 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. Information on Blandin Foundation grant-making, leadership development programs and public policy initiatives: Information about Blandin Foundation broadband grant programs:


Broadband grants awarded January 2014


Artspace Projects, Inc.  $25,000

        To provide affordable broadband access and training opportunities to Brainerd-area nonprofit organizations, low-income artists and their families, and commuity members who use community space in Brainerd’s Franklin Arts Center.


Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe  $11,640

        To support a two-week technology learning workshop on mobile app creation for students.


Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe  $7,500  

        To provide mobile devices to students with learning centered around math and Ojibwe language and culture.


Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe  $7,890  

        To increase public access to the Internet by creating 13 public access wireless hot spots at tribally-owned locations on the reservation, including housing, tribal offices, Head-Start, and medical clinic.


Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation  $15,000

        To continue implementation and marketing of a collaborative community portal and to create a mobile-friendly version of the portal.


Itasca Economic Development Corp  $15,000

To provide opportunities for sharing technology information and best practices through learning opportunities such as Social Media Breakfasts.


Itasca Economic Development Corp.   $30,000

        To support business technology assessments, a Google Place initiative, and to assist with capitalizing a loan fund for small businesses to implement technology improvements.


Kanabec Area Chamber Foundation  $4,000  

        To help east central Minnesota businesses increase and improve their use of online marketing through training and technical support, including expertise of local students.


City of Mora  $24,920

        To provide public space equipped with high-speed internet, computers and related technology to support telecommuting and after-school homework.


East Central Minnesota Educational Cable Cooperative  $18,245

        To establish new public wireless hotspots in underserved areas, including school activity buses, and to increase public awareness and understanding of the benefits of broadband to boost economic vitality and quality of life of local residents


Northshore Area Partners  $1,170  

        To provide Internet training to senior citizens of Lake County


Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency  $1,000

To launch an online screening tool at the Two Harbors food shelf to assist in identifying public programs for which patrons might qualify.  


Lake County   $25,000

        To provide a central, online source of information, events, and resources for Lake County residents and visitors


Independent School District 381 Lake Superior  $25,000

        To increase public access to the Internet, thereby increasing traffic and business for local establishments.


Lake of the Woods County   $15,000

        To increase public access to the Internet, and increase traffic and business for local establishments. To provide additional training to businesses and residents, and support for  Google Site claiming.


Lake of the Woods Senior Citizens Council Inc.  $24,900

        To increase public access to computers and Internet by providing computers and Internet access points at several public and nonprofit locations.


Independent School District 2853 Laq qui Parle Valley  $25,000

        To support the district’s move to 1:1 device learning for all students in grades 5 – 12.


Independent School District 2852 Laq qui Parle Valley  $25,000

        To create a center with hands-on learning opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), with a focus on agriculture.


Mille Lacs County $6,750  

        To distribute computers to 100 low-income families.


Mille Lacs County  $5,250  

        To conduct analysis around broadband availability and affordability using  Geographical Information Systems (GIS).


Mille Lacs County  $3,000  

        To create two video conference centers through which citizens can participate in public meetings held at the courthouse.


Mille Lacs County  $11,000

        To create a public access computer lab at the courthouse with computers placed at two additional locations.


Mille Lacs County  $3,750  

        To create five new public wi-fi hot spots in Mille Lacs County.


Independent School District 912 Milaca  $12,790

        To support the purchase and operation of 12 wifi routers for school buses across four districts so students can use travel time for homework.


Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe  $7,125  

        To provide computer training and refurbished computers to 100 low-income band member families.

Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe  $25,000

        To support the capital costs of a public private partnership to build fiber-to-the-home in Lake Lena.


Independent School District 2907 Round Lake-Brewster  $15,000

        To provide access to mobile devices at the schools for students grades preK- 8 and their families,  and to local communities through community ed classes, open lab time, and Social Media Breakfasts.


Independent School District 330 Heron Lake-Okabena  $22,000

        To provide access to laptops and the Internet, both at the schools for students, and to local communities through community ed classes and open lab time.


Independent School District 330 Heron Lake-Okabena  $9,000

        To provide access to a community computer lab and Internet hotspots.


Jackson County Library  $11,000

        To provide increased library access to mobile devices and the Internet for individuals, prechools, and seniors in southwest Minnesota, and for other organizations on a check-out basis.


Project FINE  $25,000

        To provide ongoing training and access to immigrants and refugees in the Winona area focused on advanced digital literacy and using technology to develop connections with others in the community and beyond.


Kanabec County  $15,000

        To connect FirstLight Health System to other providers in the community, specifically Kanabec County Public Health and St. Clare Living Community of Mora, and begin to provide patient services via telemedicine.


TOTAL: 32 Grants $472,930


arrow icon pointing up Back to Top