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Regional Highlights

“We’re thankful for our partnership with the Initiative Foundation. For several financial packages I have worked with, the loans would not have happened without the Initiative Foundation stepping in as a gap lender.”
– Tim Dolan, Decklan Group partner

Vet-Art_adjsuted.pngMORRISON: The final painting, depicting the Air Force, was unveiled on Sept. 15 at the Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery Committal Hall. 

MORRISON COUNTY | Air Force Installment Completes Veterans Art Monument
With the installation of the final of five paintings at the Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery, a 10-year, $485,000 project is now complete. Artist Charles Kapsner painted commemorative pieces to honor the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marines and Navy. The project is sponsored by the Veterans Art Monument Fund, which is a Partner Fund of the Initiative Foundation. The oil paintings decorate each wall of Committal Hall, where families and friends say their last goodbyes to fallen veterans. 

TODD COUNTY | Meals to Go for Seniors Takes Bite Out of Food Deserts
LSS Meals to Go, an affordable frozen-meal shipment service, is helping to alleviate food deserts for seniors and shut-ins across Minnesota. In partnership with Lutheran Social Service, and supported by an Initiative Foundation grant, staff at Hilltop Regional Kitchen in Eagle Bend produce 35 dietician-approved frozen menu options, which can now be ordered online and shipped. Visit hilltopregionalkitchen.org for more information.    

WADENA COUNTY |  Development Firm Hired to Identify, Fill Service Gaps   
The city of Wadena, which serves as a commerce hub for 20,000 people in three counties, is looking to boost its retail sector and fill empty storefronts through a partnership with Buxton Development Group. Through broad-based support, including an Initiative Foundation grant, Buxton will work to identify and fill gaps and attract new businesses to town. The goal: deliver the right mix of goods and services, save residents’ travel time and create new jobs.

Purple-Fern.pngCROW WING: Purple Fern is the 2017 winner of Brainerd’s Destination Downtown contest.

CASS COUNTY | Learning Aids Ramp Up Reading for Pillager Students
Without well-suited materials, reading can be a chore for some middle and high school students. Pillager students are getting a helping hand with new books with quick pacing and that include a  follow-along audio recording. The addition of these learning aids, supported by a grant from the  Pillager Education Foundation, a Partner Fund of the Initiative Foundation, is increasing student  reading time by five minutes per day.

CROW WING COUNTY | Destination Downtown Brainerd Wins Well-Deserved Award
Destination Downtown Brainerd, a three-year-old revitalization contest coordinated by the Brained Lakes Chamber of Commerce, has garnered some much-deserved recognition: the Minnesota Retailers Association’s 2019 Retail Innovation Award. The next round of Destination Downtown Brainerd, supported since its inception by the Initiative Foundation, will see three winners (not just one!) sharing a combined prize package worth $135,000. Winners will be announced in November after a public round of online voting.  

MILLE LACS COUNTY | Helping Those in Need With a Free Ride
Getting to appointments or the grocery store can be a challenge when transportation access is limited, especially in rural areas. Lakes and Pines Community Action Council, which serves Mille Lacs and four other counties, saw the need and came up with Transportation Resources for You (TRY), a program that coordinates volunteer drivers. Supported by an Initiative Foundation grant, the program currently has a coordinator, six volunteer drivers and a plan to enlist more.

Melrose-1.pngSTEARNS: A shelter in downtown Melrose will soon store bikes to borrow or rent. 

BENTON COUNTY | K12 Connection Links Youth to Manufacturing Careers
The Central Minnesota Manufacturers Association (CMMA), in collaboration with Central Minnesota Jobs and Training Services, Inc., will use Initiative Foundation grant funding to upgrade its website with K12 Connection and Youth Apprenticeship Toolkit content, with a goal of exposing more students to manufacturing careers. By collaborating with schools, students can tour manufacturing businesses  and even complete an apprenticeship.  

SHERBURNE COUNTY | Food for Thought: Grant Fortifies School Lunch Needs
The Three Rivers Community Foundation, a Partner Fund of the Initiative Foundation, is filling an important void by helping Elk River area students succeed in school. By providing a $5,000 grant to support the district’s school lunch “angel fund,” Three Rivers is helping to reduce anxiety and ensure that income-eligible students who face food insecurity are receiving a hot meal so that they can do their best in school.

STEARNS COUNTY | Melrose Cranks Up Its Biking, Walking Options
A bike and pedestrian master plan is now in place for the city of Melrose. Supported by an Initiative Foundation grant, the plan provided leverage for Melrose to apply for grants that allowed for the installation of a sidewalk extension that leads to a major employer where about 40 percent of employees walk to work. The plan includes a covered shelter and the re-establishment of a bike borrowing and rental program on the Lake Wobegon Trail.

WRIGHT COUNTY | Dancin’ and Singin’ at Delano Central Park
A blanket or chair was all that was needed to enjoy concerts in the park at Delano Central Park this summer. From the Pan-handlers Steel Drum Band with their zydeco and Irish jig music to Delano’s own Singleton Street, with bluegrass to celtic tunes, fun could be had by all ages. The concert series was supported in part by the Delano Area Community Foundation, a Partner Fund of the Initiative Foundation.

Innovative-Approaches-to-Career-Readiness_3---Copy.pngCHISAGO: North Branch ProStart students baked delicious pastries for the Innovative Approaches to Career Readiness event. ProStart provides students with food-services training.

CHISAGO COUNTY | Career Readiness Program Captures State Recognition
GPS:45:93, a five-county economic development consortium serving the eastern region of Central Minnesota, has been recognized by the Economic Development Association of Minnesota for its Innovative Approaches to Career Readiness program. The program, sponsored since inception by the Initiative Foundation, explores unique public-private partnerships that prepare high school students for local, high-demand careers.

ISANTI COUNTY | Cambridge Disaster Relief Fund Meets Matching Goal
Cambridge recently demonstrated what can happen when a team works toward a common goal. The Cambridge Area Community Foundation, an Initiative Foundation Partner Fund, recently raised $10,000 for its disaster relief fund. The achievement triggered a $10,000 Initiative Foundation and Funders’ Network match. Cambridge has since established the Hope and Recovery Team (#HART) to plan, manage and meet community needs for services and financial resources in the event of a natural or man-made disaster. 

KANABEC COUNTY | City of Mora Studying Affordable Housing Plan
Affordable housing is a necessity for a community to grow and attract employers. Kanabec County and the city of Mora, supported by an Initiative Foundation grant, are working with the Central Minnesota Housing Partnership to draft a feasibility study for a solution to workforce housing. If developed, the project would provide affordable housing for 32 families. 

PINE COUNTY | Sandstone Digs Deep for Historic Building Preservation
There are historic buildings all across our state. Some have been fully restored and others are falling apart. The city of Sandstone recently hired an intern from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota to research potential partners, funding, design and the role of government in assisting with the restoration of historic buildings. The Initiative Foundation-supported study looked at  12 building projects across Minnesota and provided key findings for a going-forward plan. 

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