Southwest Initiative Foundation is a nonprofit community foundation supported by individuals, families, businesses and organizations who care about southwest Minnesota.
We’ve been listening to what communities in our region want for themselves for nearly 40 years. And together, we make it happen. We’re a trusted partner and a regional leader in making southwest Minnesota stronger through giving, economic development and community impact.
Community foundations exist to benefit a specific place. Our place is all of southwest Minnesota. Our region borders South Dakota and Iowa and encompasses 18 counties and two Native Nations. That includes the counties of Big Stone, Chippewa, Cottonwood, Jackson, Kandiyohi, Lac qui Parle, Lincoln, Lyon, McLeod, Meeker, Murray, Nobles, Pipestone, Redwood, Renville, Rock, Swift and Yellow Medicine, as well as Caŋṡayapi Oyate (Lower Sioux Indian Community) and Peżihutazizi Oyate (Upper Sioux Community).
Southwest Minnesota is home to incredible people. There are 279,912 of us representing dozens of Indigenous and ethnic backgrounds, including immigrants and refugees, who contribute to our region’s vibrancy and growth. Our communities range from less than 50 to 21,000 people.
Southwest Initiative Foundation is located on the original and contemporary homelands of the Dakota people in Minnesota. Dakota people view the land as their relative. We honor their responsibility and stewardship in this place. Read our land acknowledgement to learn more.
Born out of the farm crisis in 1986, Southwest Initiative Foundation was created to alleviate human distress and support economic recovery. We were known as a grantmaker, a finance partner, a catalyst and a convener.
In the early 2000s, those roles remained while we took on the new role of regional community foundation, partnering with individual and corporate donors to harness generosity and retain wealth for local communities. With a wider base of supporters and larger balance sheet, we evolved over time, building robust relationships, developing unique programs and collaborating across sectors to keep our southwest Minnesota communities strong.
Our resources and experience positioned us to launch Grow Our Own in 2016, a 10-year commitment to closing the opportunity gap for our kids and their families. Working with friends and partners, we’re using a cradle-to-career approach to ensure southwest Minnesota kids have what they need to succeed by supporting stable families and parenting, high-quality early care and education, K-12 engagement in and out of schools, vibrant and welcoming communities and career on-ramps.
Minnesota Initiative Foundations
We are one of six regional foundations working to strengthen the communities and economies of Greater Minnesota. Originally established by the McKnight Foundation, each of the Minnesota Initiative Foundations is independent and serves its geographic region with grants, business loans, programs and priorities, and donor services, as well as collaborates on several statewide initiatives. The Minnesota Initiative Foundations are nationally recognized as unique resources to the people, businesses and communities of rural Minnesota.