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COVID-19 News & Updates
Support the Central Minnesota
Emergency Relief and Recovery Fund
Select a tab below for information about emergency business loans, child care support, grants, area relief funds and more.
Help Those Hardest Hit by the CoronavirusContribute to the Central Minnesota Emergency Relief and Recovery Fund to help those experiencing lost wages, who struggle with food access or who risk losing housing during the COVID-19 outbreak. You also can make a gift to the Central Minnesota Emergency Child Care Fund to help area providers keep their doors open to serve the children of essential workers. And, as always, we welcome your gifts to the Initiative Foundation's general endowment, which covers expenses related to the administration of these emergency funds and other essential response resources. Maximize your giving: During April and May, GiveMN is returning its portion of transaction fees—about 2 percent—back to organizations that receive donations on GiveMN.org.
Scroll down and select the Relief Funds tab to give to one of our community-hosted Partner Fund response efforts.
Proceeds will be used to make grants to nonprofits and local units of government to assist disproportionately affected communities; to address the economic impacts of reduced and lost work resulting from the outbreak; to meet immediate needs of economically vulnerable populations caused by coronavirus-related closures; and to respond to increased demands placed on our stressed social support systems.
Your gift will immediately be turned around to licensed child care providers across Central Minnesota who are serving the region’s essential workforce. Without our child care providers, many parents in Central Minnesota's essential workforce could not perform day-to-day duties required to keep our communities safe, especially health care and emergency personnel, during this COVID-19 pandemic.
News & Updates
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 1,000 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, is in line to receive a $110,000 once eligibility requirements have been verified. The grant will be administered by the Initiative Foundation. At least 50 percent of the grant must be used to forgive the rent of existing tenants.
More Than $12.4 million
Small Business Lending & Resources
Updated July 24, 2020
Foundation, DEED Partner to Deliver Small Business Relief Grants
The Initiative Foundation and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) have forged a partnership to distribute hundreds of small business relief grants in Central Minnesota. The grants will be awarded lottery-style and will be provided to locally owned and operated businesses that can demonstrate financial hardship as a result coronavirus-related shutdowns.
Businesses that employ 50 full-time workers or less will be eligible for grants of up to $10,000. There also will be special carve-outs for businesses with fewer than six employees, minority-owned businesses, women-owned businesses, veteran-owned businesses and vendors in cultural malls.
For more information, frequently asked questions or to view application questions, visit DEED's website.
55 Emergency Loans Processed to Date
To date, the Initiative Foundation has processed 55 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 $1.2 mllion 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 Aug. 13, 2020
Special Grant Cycle Supports Underserved Children
The Initiative Foundation has recently been awarded $416,000 in funding from the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) and the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) fund to create a series of three grant cycles. The overarching goal is to support early childhood programming that benefits children birth to 8 who are adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, including illness, economic displacement and the interruption of educational and/or development supports.
The Foundation will issue three sequential grant-making rounds. Emphasis will be placed on equity in support of underserved communities, including areas of concentrated poverty, ethnic minorities and/or English as a second language, disabled individuals and/or those in rural areas who lack access to basic early childhood educational services.
Updated May 14, 2020
Foundation Awards 111 Emergency Child Care Grants
The Initiative Foundation has created the Central Minnesota Emergency Relief & Response Fund and seeded it with $20,000 to support regional areas of need. We've also invited our Partner Funds (the Foundation hosts 120-plus funds from throughout the 14 counties of Central Minnesota) to create their own community- or sub-regional relief and response funds.
View a list of emergency relief grants awarded by Initiative Foundation-held Partner Funds.
Updated April 10, 2020
Grant guidelines Temporarily Change in Response to COVID-19
Due to the COVID-19 health crisis, our grant guidelines are temporarily changed. In a departure from our normal focus on innovative new programming, strategic planning and other capacity-building projects, the Initiative Foundation is prioritizing basic needs and general operations to serve those most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
These temporary guidelines will extend until at least September 2020.
Eligibility: Grant applicants must be 501(c)(3) nonprofits, school districts or local units of government that serve the people and communities in Benton, Cass, Chisago, Crow Wing, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Pine, Sherburne, Stearns, Todd, Wadena and Wright counties, and the sovereign tribal nations of the Leech Lake and Mille Lacs Bands of Ojibwe. Funding requests for use outside of this geography will not be considered. Individuals are not eligible to apply for grant funds.
Priorities: Priority will be given to new or existing programs or services that provide for the basic needs of individuals and families negatively affected by the COVID-19 health crisis. Examples include food security, housing, clothing, health care and employment.
Flexibility for Existing Grantees
In addition to activating its Emergency Relief and Recovery Fund, the Initiative Foundation has reached out to more than 50 regional grantees with open Innovation Fund grants to offer them the flexibility to use unspent funds to support general operations and disaster relief.
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.