Southwest Initiative Foundation is a catalyst—we provide a spark to help make positive change in our region. Sometimes that’s in the form of financial support, leadership training or discussion facilitation. And sometimes it’s through proactive programming.
Our programs and initiatives address specific needs and opportunities of our region and take on different forms. We’ve administered programs using statewide resources for renewable energy and created our very own programs in partnership with other organizations.
At some point, all of our programs (with the exception of our loan programs and our community foundation partnerships) sunset for any number of reasons:
- We achieved the desired outcomes.
- Work transitioned to local or other leadership.
- Funding ended.
- Needs of our region changed.
Past programs created an impact in our region. In many cases they led to further action and support beyond Southwest Initiative Foundation. And, lessons learned inform our future programming.
- Parish Nursing
- Through the Paul and Alma Schwan Aging Trust Fund, we started a Parish Nurse program to support productive again in the region. Parish nurses provide wholistic care in various capacities by providing health education and counseling, teaching and coordinating volunteers, connecting community organizations with congregational members, and helping to clarify the close relationship between faith and health. Our grant funding supported the startup of many successful parish nurse programs since 1996, many of which are still going today through alternative funding sources.
- Connected Communities Partnership
- Piloted in 2008, this intensive program was designed to bring leaders and citizens together to identify and prioritize community opportunities and then develop and implement an action plan. The program was piloted in Montevideo and New London. Both communities implemented projects and trained local leaders. Rather than offering this stand-alone program one community at a time, Southwest Initiative Foundation chose to implement leadership development into all of our program areas, expanding our reach to many more communities.
- Renewable Energy Marketplace
- This regional brand was introduced in the early 2000s as a way to educate and inspire economic opportunities connected to the new and growing renewable energy industry. While the brand is no longer in use, the efforts have helped move southwest Minnesota to the forefront in the bioscience, renewable energy, food and agriculture, and manufacturing sectors.
- Rural Energy Development Initiative (REDI)
- This program was administered in 2009 by Southwest Initiative Foundation with funding from the Minnesota Office of Energy Security. It provided outreach and education about wind energy development opportunities in rural Minnesota. It also provided financial assistance to owners of eligible community-based wind energy projects. Loan funded wind studies and transmission interconnection studies. REDI Resources was created to continue offering support to our renewable energy industry.
- Rural Technology and Telecommunications Project (TNT)
- In 2000, we launched the Rural Technology and Telecommunications Project (TNT) to help businesses, communities and individuals understand and implement telecommunications technology. While this is no longer one of our initiatives, effects of our efforts can be seen as support for increased technology accessibility expands throughout the state. This includes laying groundwork that has supported the current Blandin Broadband Initiative led by the Blandin Foundation.