A Message from the President/CEO and New Board Chair
One word keeps coming to mind as we think about 2011: outstanding. The people of southwest Minnesota, the accomplishments of Southwest Initiative Foundation (SWIF) and the potential of our region’s future are all outstanding—thanks to you.
Throughout Fiscal Year 2011 (July 1, 2010, through June 30, 2011), we celebrated highlights from our 5-year history and new programmatic milestones that were reached. We had a record number of General Endowment donors and exceeded our fundraising goals by receiving more than $410,000 in gifts, awarded nearly $830,000 in grants to support many great causes and closed 40 loans to support businesses. As you’ll see below, we had a very full year!
And, our new five-year strategic plan is launching us right into continued work to meet the changing needs of our region and organization. We spent time planning and implementing improvements that will help us better serve our donors, leaders, youth and entrepreneurs. We are already seeing the impact as we launch a new community foundation, new Early Childhood Initiative coalitions, new YES! teams, and support new businesses.
We also started working on improving our communications efforts. All of the changes SWIF is going through—some of which you’ll see, and others you might not notice—will strengthen our regional voice and help connect people with the resources and relationships they need to make their southwest Minnesota dream become a reality.
- Southwest Minnesota veterans connected during one of four Honor Flight trips.
- Awarded grants totaling $50,000 through SWIF’s Paul and Alma Schwan Aging Trust Endowment Fund to support Honor Flight Southwest Minnesota and kick off the anniversary year
- Toured the region with an all-staff bus tour, visiting partners in many southwest Minnesota communities and learning more about SWIF’s impact
- Hosted receptions in each of SWIF’s 18 counties to celebrate many years of partnership and impact on a local, as well as regional, level
- Celebrated the Best of Southwest with a regional Showcase of Southwest Minnesota and 25th Anniversary Banquet, where the Southwest Initiative Foundation Award and four new awards were presented
SWIF’s volunteer Board of Directors represents the absolute best of southwest Minnesota. Fiscal Year 2011 Board of Directors Outgoing board chair Sandy Ludeman of Tracy led SWIF through a milestone year with his leadership, dedication and enthusiasm for this organization. His service to SWIF continues with a term as Past Chair. Two outgoing board members also made a significant impact on our organization. Rick Ellingworth of Redwood Falls and Wayne Freese of Worthington completed their terms and continue to make an impact in our entire region.
Our just-released print edition of Looking Forward, Giving Back is a message of heartfelt gratitude to the donors, partners, colleagues, friends, and past and current board members and staff who helped make 2011 a record-breaking year. Whether you’ve been with us since the mid-1980s or are just getting to know us now, your support means so much.
Each of you was—and is—key to the success of SWIF, our region and the communities we call home. We can think of no better way to wrap up our 25th anniversary than by sharing these inspiring stories and saying once more, “Thank you!”
- Maria Parga, owner of Mini Market Lupita in Worthington, has used SWIF’s loan programs for multiple business expansions.
- Awarded 236 grants totaling nearly $830,000 to meet regional and local needs
- Closed 40 loans, including the largest loan in SWIF history, to support businesses
- Created or retained 318 jobs through the Business Finance and Microenterprise Loan Programs
- Received $705,000 in national funding from USDA Rural Development and Bank of America to support the Microenterprise Loan Program
- Hosted the first Leading By Example Executive Summit focusing on leadership in the biology-agriculture industry in partnership with the MinnWest Technology Campus, Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission and the Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce
- Sponsored the 7th Annual Worthington Bioscience Conference, focusing on regional and industry opportunities now and into the future
- SWIF’s ECI helps ensure the region’s youngest children have a healthy start to life.
- Facilitated the Luverne Commercial Revitalization project, a pilot community engagement project
- Established the BOLD (Bird Island-Olivia-Lake Lillian) Early Childhood Initiative
- Received the Nancy Latimer Award in partnership with the Minnesota Early Childhood and Thrive Initiatives partners
- Completed the first Nonprofit Leader’s Academy cohort, building the capacity of 19 nonprofit leaders
- Expanded the Youth Energy Summit (YES!) program to include three new partners and 25 student teams
- Created eight new designated funds and established one new community foundation partnership with the Bird Island and Olivia Community Foundation Fund
- Redesigned programs by combining the Microenterprise and Entrepreneurship programs and restructuring the Community Foundation Program for greater impact in the region
- Created a Facilitation and Transfer Field Guide that captures best practices and expectations for SWIF’s work in community and leadership engagement
- Board and staff from The McKnight Foundation learned about multiple southwest Minnesota communities during a two-day site visit to the region.
- Announced SWIF President/CEO Sherry Ristau was elected to the national Council on Foundation’s Board of Directors, providing a voice for rural philanthropy
- Launched promotion of Keep It Growing: Southwest Minnesota’s Farmland Retention Program (SM) as a tool for retaining wealth in the region and received the first gift of farmland through it
- Hosted The McKnight Foundation for a two-day site visit in southwest Minnesota and received a five-year, $6 million grant from McKnight
- Exceeded fundraising goals and had a record number of donors, leveraging important dollars for the region
- Realized the highest fiscal year return in SWIF history on endowment portfolio investment, with a 21.5 percent return on investment as of June 30, 2011
- Managed a balanced budget and received a clean audit
- Completed a new five-year strategic plan that will guide SWIF’s mission-driven work through Fiscal Year 2016
Our work in Fiscal Year 2011 focused on collaboration and innovation to leverage new and existing resources, which helped SWIF deliver valuable programming throughout southwest Minnesota. These accomplishments—and many more—are possible thanks to your ongoing support.