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COVID-19 News & Updates
Support Central Minnesota Relief & Recovery Efforts
Help Those Hardest Hit by the CoronavirusA gift to the Initiative Foundation's general endowment goes a long way to cover covers expenses as we work to help small businesses, neighbors who are experiencing lost wages, and those who struggle with food access or who risk losing housing during the COVID-19 outbreak. Give Today!
News & Updates
March 23, 2021
Grants Support Small Early Childhood Educators
Dec. 23, 2020
Foundation Drives $1.3 Million-Plus in Local Grants
July 22, 2020
Foundation Drives Nearly $700,000 in Regional Grants
June 23, 2020
DEED to Host Small Business Relief Grant Webinars
June 16, 2020
Foundation Extends Staff Remote Work Time
April 10, 2020
Grant Guidelines Change in Response to COVID-19
March 27, 2020
Minnesota Foundations Give Aid to Nonprofits to Help Residents During COVID-19 (Star Tribune)
March 26, 2020
How to help from home: St. Cloud-area organizations set up coronavirus relief funds (St. Cloud Times)
March 20, 2020
COVID-19 Update: Loan Payment Deferrals Offered
Loans, Grants, Partnerships Support More Than 1,500 Businesses, Nonprofits
- Minnesota Cultural Mall Operator Grants Program: As part of the state’s effort to provide grant relief to Minnesota small businesses, the Global Center, an indoor cultural mall with 31 tenants on Third Avenue North in St. Cloud, has been deemed eligible for one of 12 cultural mall grants. Seventeen businesses in the Global Center received grants, in total $110,000. Global Center is the only entity outside of the Twin Cities metropolitan area to receive a cultural mall grant. The grant administered by the Initiative Foundation requires that 50 percent of the award must be used to forgive the rent of existing tenants.
- Technical Assistance for Nonprofits: The Initiative Foundation awarded a series of grants to nine nonprofits to provide technical assistance with COVID-19-related challenges. Each nonprofit received about 10 hours of technical assistance on topics ranging from fund development to marketing.
Small Business Lending & Resources
Initiative Foundation Partners With Pine County to Deliver $1.6 Million in CARES Act Funds
This fall, the Initiative Foundation partnered with Pine County to help deliver $1.6 million in relief grants to 244 businesses. The U.S. government’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law in March 2020. Some of the money from the $2.2 trillion package went to counties to support local grants. The Initiative Foundation partnered with Pine County to deliver CARES Act grants throughout September, October and November 2020.
“Part of our mission is to invest in local businesses and organizations that create quality jobs in our region,” said Don Hickman, Initiative Foundation vice president for community and workforce development. “Partnering with Pine County helped them award the CARES Act funds to the businesses that needed it most.”
Initiative Foundation staff also helped Pine County staff identify eligible nonprofits that had expenses associated to adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic or had been closed.
Businesses and organizations received grants totaling $700 to $10,000.
See the full list of grantees here.
Updated March 5, 2021
Foundation, DEED Partner to Deliver Small Business Relief Grants
In partnership with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, the Initiative Foundation distributed 766 Central Minnesota Small Business Relief Grants with a total value of $7.66 million. The $10,000 grant awards are being directed to Minnesota-owned and -operated businesses that can demonstrate financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
As part of the state’s effort to provide grant relief to Minnesota small businesses, the Global Center, an indoor cultural mall with 31 tenants on Third Avenue North in St. Cloud, was one of 12 cultural mall grant recipients statewide. Seventeen businesses in the Global Center received grants, in total $110,000. Global Center is the only entity outside of the Twin Cities metropolitan area to receive a cultural mall grant. The grant administered by the Initiative Foundation requires that 50 percent of the award must be used to forgive the rent of existing tenants.
53 Emergency Loans Processed to Date
To date, the Initiative Foundation has processed 53 loans for Central Minnesota businesses as part of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development's (DEED) Small Business Emergency Loan Program. The loans resulted in $1.18 million in regional economic stimulation.
The Initiative Foundation fielded more than 200 applications and 400-plus inquiries when the DEED Small Business Emergency Loan Program was announced.
For a complete breakdown of Small Business Emergency Loans in Central Minnesota, visit the DEED website.
If additional funds are appropriated, and if the lending capital is substantial enough to cover backlogged loan clients and potential new loan clients, the Foundation will re-open the application process using a new and secure web form. Small businesses that missed the initial lending window are urged to save their application information to help them more quickly apply if additional funds become available.
Loan Deferment Opportunity
In addition to supporting DEED and its Small Business Emergency Loan program, the Initiative Foundation has reached out to existing loan clients to offer deferred payments for 90 days. A total of 41 businesses of 134 existing loans have taken deferment or interest-only options, which amounts to 30 percent of the Foundation's lending portfolio. Our hope is that this will ease the strain on local businesses as we all work together to manage through the COVID-19 outbreak and the shelter-in-place restrictions that are affecting our small business partners.
To provide you with timely information on small business assistance programs, we are creating a new Small Business Finance Bulletin. Sign up today to have the bulletin delivered to your inbox.
About the DEED Small Business Emergency Loan Program
The Initiative Foundation is one of nearly two dozen lenders for this program intended to provide partially forgivable loans to restaurants, bars, hair salons and other public accommodations impacted by Minnesota Executive Orders 20-04 and 20-08. Loans are intended to cover up to three months of operating expenses, and can range from $2,500 to $35,000. The program was funded by the Legislature with a $30 million allocation.
- Paycheck Protection Program Loans (PPP): After borrowers quickly ran through an initial $350 billion allocation, Congress on April 23 allocated another $310 billion, with $30 billion set aside to be loaned out through smaller banks and credit unions. Low-interest PPP loans through your primary lender may be largely forgiven if primarily used to cover an eight-week period of payroll costs. Once the new bill is signed into law, the SBA is expected to announce when it will resume taking PPP applications. In the meantime, businesses should collect all required documentation for the program and send it to their lender. This enables the bank to prepare for submitting a client’s application as soon as the program opens again.
- SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL): The EIDL is a direct loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and it carries advantaged interest rates and terms. It was also topped off by Congressional action on April 23. The program contains a provision for a rapid advance grant of up to $10,000, but the amount of the advance depends upon the number of employees in the business. Reports from businesses are that approval and funding of these loans has been slow, and the Wall St. Journal reports the average grant size has been just over $4,000. Learn more about the program at the SBA website.
- SBA Express Bridge Loans: These temporary loans of up to $25,000 are offered through financial institutions authorized to do SBA Express loans. They are intended to provide a bridge loan while waiting for approval on an SBA EIDL loan application and may need to be repaid with the proceeds of the EIDL loan once approved.
- Minnesota DEED Small Business Loan Guarantee Program: This program funded by the Minnesota Legislature and managed by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) helps local lenders provide capital to small businesses affected by COVID-19. The initial allocation of $30 million in statewide funding will support a limited number of loans. As noted, the Initiative Foundation on April 17 will stop accepting applications at 5 p.m. and will resume only when additional funding becomes available.
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation: The Save Small Business Fund was activiated on April 20. Funds have since been exhuasted and applications are no longer being accepted. This grantmaking initiative offered short-term relief (grants of up to $5,000) for U.S. small businesses that employ between 3 and 20 people. Awards are being processed based on ZIP Code regions and economic distress indicators. Visit the Save Small Business Fund web page for non-financial resources.
We also encourage you to check out these small business resource pages:
- Minnesota DEED COVID-19 relief information page for businesses and employers
- Minnesota DEED Safely Returning to Work Guidance for businesses
- North Central Small Business Development Center, Brainerd
- SBA COVID-19 Small Business Guidance & Loan Resources
- St. Cloud Small Business Development Center
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce COVID-19 information page
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce Coronavirus Business Resource Guide
The Initiative Foundation serves the following Central Minnesota counties and communities: Benton; Cass; Chisago; Crow Wing; Isanti; Kanabec; Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe; Mille Lacs; Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe; Morrison; Pine; Sherburne; Stearns; Todd; Wadena; and Wright.
Early Childhood Response
Updated April 19, 2021
Special Grant Cycle Supports Underserved Children
In August of 2020, the Initiative Foundation was awarded $416,000 in funding from the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) and the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) fund to support vulnerable children impacted by COVID. The definition of vulnerable includes: ethnic minorities and/or English as a second language, low-income, special needs and/or those in rural areas who lack access to basic early childhood educational services.
This third cycle of grants supported smaller early childhood educator operations, serving 20 children or fewer. Another series of grants will be awarded in the summer. Learn more ...
Updated May 14, 2020
Foundation Awards 111 Emergency Child Care Grants
In March, as the COVID-19 pandemic was spreading across the nation, the Initiative Foundation established the Central Minnesota Emergency Relief & Response Fund, which it seeded with $20,000. By June 30, the end of the second quarter, the Initiative Foundation and its Partner Funds that engaged in relief fund efforts (listed below) had disbursed 320 grants worth nearly $700,000 to provide local relief. And the effort is ongoing. View a list of emergency relief grants awarded by Initiative Foundation-held Partner Funds.
Greater Pequot Lakes Community Relief Fund
Greater Pine Area Emergency Relief Fund
Hackensack-Backus Relief Fund
Isanti County Emergency Relief Fund
Milaca Area Emergency Relief Fund
Morrison County Area Emergency Recovery Fund
Staples-Motley Area Emergency Relief & Response Fund
Sherburne County Outdoor Capacity Relief Fund
Three Rivers Community Foundation Emergency Relief Fund
Staff Continues Remote Work to Minimize Transmission Risk
The safety and well-being of our employees and our shared communities are of utmost importance to all of us at the Initiative Foundation. For that reason, we will be practicing social distancing by working remotely for the foreseeable future to do our part in slowing the spread of the coronavirus, or COVID-19.
What this means
- While our offices may be closed, we are "open for business" and are actively working on important Central Minnesota initiatives. Supported by a suite of remote-work technology tools (secure Zoom meetings, instant messaging, and cloud-based storage, file access and content delivery systems), we are busy delivering grants, loans and programming to the 14-county region.
- Staff will work remotely from their homes and will not travel for work projects. Visit our staff page for contact information.
- All Initiative Foundation community-facing events have been postponed, rescheduled or moved to online events.
- Community rooms at the Foundation's Little Falls headquarters will be unavailable for public use for the foreseeable future.
We're fortunate that our work allows us to operate remotely. As you consider whether social distancing is possible for you and your organization, we've compiled a list of resources to help. Below, you'll find links for more information on COVID-19 and working remotely.
We're committed to keeping our website and social media channels up to date on office closings, changes in programs or services and other important information. Stay connected during this time. Subscribe to our email newsletters and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
During times such as these, the role of philanthropy is especially critical. We are committed to responding to community needs as they arise, and will remain accessible and responsive by following a solid business continuity plan that balances business operations with the safety of our staff, our friends and our partners.
We also acknowledge that this is a fluid, fast moving situation that may change tomorrow, and we will keep you informed if anything changes and will update this page as warranted.
In the interim, we ask that you put empathy and kindness first. Disease outbreaks can cause fear and disrupt daily lives. Think about ways you can help members of your community who are especially impacted during this time through food insecurity, lost wages and business revenue, child care and school closures, and more.
We also ask that you exercise civility in all your interactions. We're in this together.
Though our shared challenge ahead may be formidable, we remain committed to the communities we serve and to our mission to empower people throughout Central Minnesota to build a thriving economy, vibrant communities and a lasting culture of generosity.