Local community foundation helps Clarkfield thrive
Clarkfield, population 820, is surrounded by fields and full of caring neighbors. Sue Fritz moved to the area from Montana after marrying her husband, who grew up in Pipestone.
“Living in Clarkfield was my first experience with a small town, I was used to Air Force bases and cities. Everyone was very welcoming to me as a new bride and has always shown me and my family kindness. Clarkfield is a great community to live in,” Sue said.
Sue has been a Clarkfield Area Community Foundation (CACF) advisory board member since 2009 and currently serves as the foundation’s secretary. She felt called to serve on the board to give back to the community that welcomed her decades ago; now, she continues to volunteer because she recognizes the importance the foundation plays in facilitating projects that meet the emerging needs and opportunities of the community.
Karen Kaatz is a new board member and serves as the vice chair of CACF. Karen grew up in Montevideo and moved to Clarkfield after marrying her husband. They were business owners in the community, and she sees potential for the foundation and local businesses to partner to bring fun, family-friendly events and activities to town.
“I think everyone young and old who resides in Clarkfield loves this town. It’s a friendly community,” Karen said.
“Clarkfield is one big family. People here care,” added Dana Larson.
Dana and her husband moved to the area in 2016 after retiring. For her husband, it was a homecoming to the town he grew up in; for Dana, it was the first time she had lived in rural Minnesota.
“Many have deep roots here, with generations of family in Clarkfield. Many are newcomers. We have an opportunity to leverage everyone’s talents and experiences. We’re lucky to have a foundation that supports positive endeavors in the community to help pull people together,” Dana said.
CACF is supported by generous donors who care about Clarkfield. Donations grow the foundation’s endowment fund, and the advisory board awards annual grants to benefit the community. Since 2010, CACF has granted nearly $150,000 to support community projects and initiatives in Clarkfield and the surrounding area, and they will be granting an additional $15,000 before the end of 2023.
“The Clarkfield Area Foundation has brought people to the realization that where you live matters, and in order to thrive where you live you have to give back to the community.”Sue Fritz, Clarkfield Area Community Foundation Advisory Board
Grant dollars have helped fund Cardinal Days, the town’s annual summer celebration, purchase educational items for the Clarkfield Area Charter School, meet the needs of the local food shelf and library, improve playgrounds, beautify parks and public spaces, and more. “These grants help build community. They help facilitate pride and growth in our town,” Dana said.
CACF is one of Southwest Initiative Foundation’s (SWIF) 31 affiliate community foundations. Local community foundations help retain wealth in rural areas and are a way for people to give back and invest in their community.
“Clarkfield Area Community Foundation has played a big role in keeping this small town vibrant. Towns of this size with a local community foundation and an active advisory board see the impact of their gifts at work,” said Jeff Vetsch, SWIF Community Gift Officer.
The advisory board is proud of the impact the grants have made, and they are looking forward to the foundation’s next big project – fundraising to make improvements to the town’s pool.
“We get to help people give back to the community, and everyone benefits. We’re excited to get this project started,” Sue said.
You can support CACF, your local community foundation or another fund that supports southwest Minnesota by making a gift online. Learn more about our community foundation affiliate partners or view our full list of funds.