Southwest Minnesota is a place of opportunity. Our communities, large and small, are full of dreamers and doers who make our towns stronger and better places to live. At Southwest Initiative Foundation (SWIF), we’ve been supporting our region’s dreamers – families, entrepreneurs, community organizers, businesses and nonprofit organizations – for nearly 40 years. Investment, partnership and support from our donors and partners is critical for us to provide the capital, engagement and resources that our amazing communities throughout the region need to achieve their dreams.
Kristine Shelstad, Madison
Kristine (Kris) Shelstad of Madison saw the need for a multipurpose space in her community. She was chosen as a 2022-2023 Initiators Fellow, which provided her with funding and technical assistance to bring her social enterprise to life. The Madison Mercantile, known locally as “The Merc,” now houses a coffee shop, stage for live music, multiple business offices, space for community meetings and gatherings, youth hang out space, woodworking shop and more. Read more
A gift in support of our mission helps strengthen communities in big and small ways.
Carlson Family, Darwin
The Carlson family had a dream of opening a vineyard and winery outside of Darwin. With the help of a business loan from SWIF, this dream became a reality in summer 2022. Jomas Hill Vineyard & Winery is now a thriving business and gathering space, bringing people of all kinds together.
A gift in support of our mission helps entrepreneurs and business owners build and expand local businesses.
Marissa Brown, Lamberton
Marissa Brown of Lamberton recently graduated from the first Growing Local: Emerging Leaders cohort. Marissa is inspired by the creativity, kindness and camaraderie of her neighbors; she applied to the program to develop her leadership skills to help her community thrive. Read more
A gift in support of our mission helps community leaders tackle emerging opportunities and challenges.
Age Friendly Communities Grant, Hardwick
The small town of Hardwick recently upgraded their park. With the help of an Age Friendly Communities grant, there’s now a sidewalk to the shelter area and restrooms, making them more accessible for wheelchairs, walkers and strollers. The program is led by the Minnesota River Area Agency on Aging, with funding from Southwest Initiative Foundation. Read more
A gift in support of our mission helps create safe spaces for people of all ages in our communities.
These dreamers and doers all have two things in common: they care about southwest Minnesota, and they needed a little extra help to achieve their dreams. Their stories are excellent reminders of why SWIF was created, and how we are honored and humbled to be a trusted partner, investor and catalyst to leverage the power of local philanthropy and the importance of regional approaches for economic development and community engagement.