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Initiative Foundation Awarded $753,744 During 3rd Quarter

The Initiative Foundation and its partner funds awarded 81 grants totaling $753,744 during the third quarter of 2017.

The grants support organizations and projects primarily in the 14-county region of central Minnesota. Several local organizations were among those selected for grant funding:

• Morrison County United Way, Imagination Library Program: $3,000 to support the distribution of Imagination Library books to children from birth to age 5. The goal of this project is to support school readiness by encouraging families to read with their young children.

• Central Minnesota Housing Partnership, Affordable Housing Initiative: $4,000 to develop at least one housing project that meets growing workforce needs in the Staples area. The goal of affordable housing is to help stabilize low- to moderate-income families who work within the area or are moving to the area for jobs.

• Blandin Foundation, sponsorship grant for Border to Border Broadband Conference: $1,000 to sponsor the Blandin Foundation's Oct. 25-26 Border to Border Broadband Conference at Madden's on Gull Lake. The event will showcase a variety of approaches rural communities have developed to expand broadband's impact, leverage investments, and bridge the digital divide.

• Brainerd Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce Education Association, Bridges Career Institute for Region Five for high school internship and apprenticeship models: $5,000 to identify high school juniors and seniors from Brainerd, Pequot Lakes and Crosby-Ironton schools and match them for summer 2017 employment in manufacturing, hospitality, health care and information technology.

• City of Little Falls, Little Falls downtown revitalization II: $3,000 to support civic engagement in the development of public art as a strategy to foster a revitalized downtown area.

• City of Little Falls, Highway 27 Memorial Bridge railroad crossing: $2,500 to support a feasibility study of the railway crossing on Highway 27, which has hurt business growth on the western side of Little Falls. This study will analyze the alternatives to minimize this barrier.

• Productive Alternatives Inc., Removing Barriers, Because Work Matters: $4,000 to provide a challenge match to support the transportation of adults with disabilities to and from work, job interviews and skills training. Many businesses with difficulty retaining a skilled workforce have discovered adults with disabilities often have a strong interest in productive employment.

• Salem Lutheran Church, Salem WEST social enterprise improvements: $2,500 to provide technology improvements for the Deerwood-based social enterprise, which generates support for the organization's social services.

• Essentia Health Foundation, Reach Out and Read Brainerd Lakes Area: $2,750 to increase engagement of parents and children in early literacy. Through this program, medical providers can provide information to parents about the importance of reading to children and provide free children's books at their well-child exams.

• Pine River-Backus School District, fostering partnerships: $6,500 to provide community events and Love and Logic parenting classes, which are tailored towards families with young children. This program works to increase parent engagement and kindergarten readiness skills in young children.

• City of Pequot Lakes, Pequot Lakes Thriving Communities Initiative: $5,000 to support projects resulting from the city's participation in the Thriving Communities Initiative program, including creation of a trademarked community brand, design of a new skateboard park, coordination of a community website to assist visitors and residents, and revisions to the city's current comprehensive plan to include elements from the TCI Initiative.

• Fairview Township, Gull Lake Trail, Phase 3-1: $2,500 to support the township's planning efforts to connect existing trails in East Gull Lake with a future trail in Lake Shore.

• Central Lakes College Small Business Development Center, Small Business Growth and Success Initiative: $10,000 to support consulting services, which provide assistance in business plan development, loan application preparation, financial projection analysis, market feasibility assessments and other guidance to help local businesses grow.