Jackson County

Since 1986, Southwest Initiative Foundation has invested in the people and places of Jackson County. We’ve awarded 416 grants totaling $1.9 million to support local nonprofits, schools and community projects. We’ve also made 35 loans totaling $2.3 million to finance local businesses. Mark Titus of Jackson serves on our board of directors. Chanthavy Singvongsa serves on our Emerging Leaders Cabinet.

McLeod County

Since 1986, Southwest Initiative Foundation has invested in the people and places of McLeod County. We’ve awarded 371 grants totaling $1.9 million to support local nonprofits, schools and community projects. We’ve also made 124 loans totaling $4.6 million to finance local businesses. Christie Hantge of Hutchinson serves on our board of directors. Don Martinez and Karlie Mosher, both of Hutchinson, serve on our Emerging Leaders Cabinet. Office headquarters are in Hutchinson.

Lac Qui Parle County

Since 1986, Southwest Initiative Foundation has invested in the people and places of Lac qui Parle County. We’ve awarded 579 grants totaling $4 million to support local nonprofits, schools and community projects. We’ve also made 26 loans totaling $1.8 million to finance local businesses.

Meeker County

Since 1986, Southwest Initiative Foundation has invested in the people and places of Meeker County. We’ve awarded 301 grants totaling $1.9 million to support local nonprofits, schools and community projects. We’ve also made 57 loans totaling $2.2 million to finance local businesses. Randy Reinke of Litchfield serves on our board of directors.

Swift County

Since 1986, Southwest Initiative Foundation has invested in the people and places of Swift County. We’ve awarded 510 grants totaling $3.5 million to support local nonprofits, schools and community projects. We’ve also made 40 loans totaling $2.7 million to finance local businesses. Jan Lundebrek of Benson serves on our board of directors.

Big Stone County

Since 1986, Southwest Initiative Foundation has invested in the people and places of Big Stone County. We’ve awarded 206 grants totaling $2 million to support local nonprofits, schools and community projects. We’ve also made 14 loans totaling $549,800 to finance local businesses.

Kandiyohi County

Since 1986, Southwest Initiative Foundation has invested in the people and places of Kandiyohi County. We’ve awarded 418 grants totaling $3.7 million to support local nonprofits, schools and community projects. We’ve also made 117 loans totaling $5.4 million to finance local businesses. Our current board chair is Bob Thurston of Spicer. Patti Loehr-Dols of Willmar also serves on our board. Fardowsa Ibrahim of Willmar, Jonathan Morales of Spicer, Ayan Muktar of Willmar, Chasity Ommodt of Spicer and Robert Valdez of Willmar serve on our Emerging Leaders Cabinet. Jeff Vetsch of New London is on staff.

Chippewa County

Since 1986, Southwest Initiative Foundation has invested in the people and places of Chippewa County. We’ve awarded 523 grants totaling $3.6 million to support local nonprofits, schools and community projects. We’ve also made 34 loans totaling $1.3 million to finance local businesses. Janice Nelson of Montevideo serves as vice chair on our board of directors. Scott Marquardt of Montevideo is on staff.

Renville County

Since 1986, Southwest Initiative Foundation has invested in the people and places of Renville County. We’ve awarded 344 grants totaling $2.8 million to support local nonprofits, schools and community projects. We’ve also made 69 loans totaling $2.5 million to finance local businesses. Board chair Bob Thurston owns Thurston Genetics in Olivia. Rob Saunders of Bird Island serves as our past board chair. Susie Lang and Rob Thurston, both of Olivia, serve on our Emerging Leaders Cabinet.

Redwood County

Since 1986, Southwest Initiative Foundation has invested in the people and places of Redwood County. We’ve awarded 332 grants totaling $2.5 million to support local nonprofits, schools and community projects. We’ve also made 84 loans totaling $3.5 million to finance local businesses. Sarah Warner of Walnut Grove serves on our Emerging Leaders Cabinet.

Yellow Medicine County

Since 1986, Southwest Initiative Foundation has invested in the people and places of Yellow Medicine County. We’ve awarded 434 grants totaling $3.6 million to support local nonprofits, schools and community projects. We’ve also made 49 loans totaling $1.9 million to finance local businesses. Theresa Peterson of the Upper Sioux Community serves on our board of directors.

Lyon County

Since 1986, Southwest Initiative Foundation has invested in the people and places of Lyon County. We’ve awarded 492 grants totaling $3.7 million to support local nonprofits, schools and community projects. We’ve also made 61 loans totaling $2.6 million to finance local businesses. Mary Maertens of Marshall serves on our board of directors. Jodi Maertens of Ghent is on staff.

Lincoln County

Since 1986, Southwest Initiative Foundation has invested in the people and places of Lincoln County. We’ve awarded 301 grants totaling $2.1 million to support local nonprofits, schools and community projects. We’ve also made 39 loans totaling $1.1 million to finance local businesses.

Cottonwood County

Since 1986, Southwest Initiative Foundation has invested in the people and places of Cottonwood County. We’ve awarded 396 grants totaling $2.1 million to support local nonprofits, schools and community projects. We’ve also made 44 loans totaling $2 million to finance local businesses.

Murray County

Since 1986, Southwest Initiative Foundation has invested in the people and places of Murray County. We’ve awarded 230 grants totaling $1.6 million to support local nonprofits, schools and community projects. We’ve also made 15 loans totaling $822,350 to finance local businesses.

Pipestone County

Since 1986, Southwest Initiative Foundation has invested in the people and places of Pipestone County. We’ve awarded 260 grants totaling $2.2 million to support local nonprofits, schools and community projects. We’ve also made 24 loans totaling $1.2 million to finance local businesses.

Rock County

Since 1986, Southwest Initiative Foundation has invested in the people and places of Rock County. We’ve awarded 181 grants totaling $1.8 million to support local nonprofits, schools and community projects. We’ve also made 29 loans totaling $2.2 million to finance local businesses. Tim Connell of Luverne serves on our board of directors.

Nobles County

Since 1986, Southwest Initiative Foundation has invested in the people and places of Nobles County. We’ve awarded 480 grants totaling $2.2 million to support local nonprofits, schools and community projects. We’ve also made 75 loans totaling $4.1 million to finance local businesses. Jordan Huisken and Jessica Velasco, both of Worthington, serve on our Emerging Leaders Cabinet. Amy Woitalewicz of Worthington is on staff.

Bird Island, Olivia kids gain mentors

Neal Prokosch, a board member of the BIO Legacy Foundation, encourages a team in the wheelbarrow race.

Shrieking and giggling, kids from the Christian Community Outreach Center in Olivia dashed across the lawn at their end-of-school-year party in May. They quickly learned they wouldn’t get far in the wheelbarrow race without someone to hold them up. The local BIO Legacy Foundation‘s board took that lesson to heart, teaming up with CCOC to mentor kids after school.

On a sunny spring day, it’s hard to picture the challenges some children face in the surrounding towns of Bird Island and Olivia. Of the 126 elementary students in the CCOC’s After School Enrichment Program, 95 percent were enrolled in free or reduced lunch programs last school year. And a quarter of the kids live in a single-parent home with little or no contact from the other parent. Half come from split families or shared custody households.

Kids from low-income families have less access to everything from quality early childhood education to advanced placement courses in high school to sport and enrichment activities that provide mentoring, teambuilding and other life skills. BIO Legacy Foundation is one of 25 affiliate partners established through the Southwest Initiative Foundation (SWIF), and it received a $2,500 Grow Our Own grant from SWIF to help close the opportunity gap poverty creates.

“This is a chance to help build a relationship with these kids,” said Rob Thurston, president of BIO Legacy Foundation’s board. “It was a good opportunity to partner with a program that is already addressing the opportunity gap and to provide greater access to funding, marketing and mentors.”

‘There are people that care about you’

The CCOC formed in response to an outcry from families, social service agencies and police for help with unsupervised youth during the after school and early evening hours when parents are working. Its After School Enrichment Program provides a nutritious snack, homework assistance, community service and social skills while allowing students to experience a variety of artistic, active and educational enrichment activities. It’s a place where adults take an interest in kids’ lives.

Kids in the Christian Community Outreach Center After School Enrichment Program celebrate the end of the school year with a party in the park.

“No matter what, there are people that care about you,” After School Enrichment Program Coordinator Nicolas Hendris told kids at the party in the park. “There’s a lot of people here who really love you guys. We’re looking forward to watching you grow up.”

After school programming doesn’t extend through summer, but BIO Legacy Foundation board members hope to see the kids at other community events the foundation will host. Starting again in fall, each of the 12 board members will share two interesting topics with the students at the after school program. Rob set the bar high, bringing his race car to a recent after school gathering.

“Racing is just cool for kids. But I also pointed out the sponsors on the car and how I need to be responsible and show respect as I’m representing those businesses,” said Rob, whose full-time job is as president at Thurston, Inc. seed brokerage firm.

Most BIO Legacy Foundation projects are focused on youth in the area, with past grants to the Boy Scouts, St. Mary’s School, The Learning Funhouse and BOLD School District. More broadly, the foundation supports area projects that strengthen the communities around four pillars — education, recreation, health and amenities.

“We want to show people this is a place you can come back to. These communities are thriving,” Rob said.

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@2017 Southwest Initiative Foundation, an equal opportunity provider and employer.

15 3rd Avenue NW
Hutchinson, MN 55350
(320) 587-4848 (Local)
(800) 594-9480 (Toll Free)
(320) 587-3838 (Fax)
info@swifoundation.org

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