23,000 nonprofit grants totaling $140 million. 3,600 business loans totaling $193 million. 40,000 quality jobs secured. The past 25 years have proven that Minnesota’s homegrown experiment in philanthropy actually worked.
The six Minnesota Initiative Foundations, including the Southwest Initiative Foundation, are celebrating a quarter century of partnerships and service to help Greater Minnesota communities thrive. The Minnesota Initiative Foundations were created as a philanthropic experiment by The McKnight Foundation in response to the drastic declines of the farming, logging, and mining industries in the late 1980s. The idea was to launch six independent “funds” directed by local leaders, who would direct a unique combination of grants, business loans, and staff assistance to projects that could stimulate and diversify the struggling rural economy.
“The Minnesota Initiative Foundations hit the ground running in 1986, and they haven’t slowed down. Every year, they forge dynamic new collaborations and help define the spirits of giving, of innovation, and of engagement that are hallmarks of our state. They stand collectively among The McKnight Foundation’s proudest and farthest reaching legacies — both for the progress they have made and for the promises they hold,” stated Kate Wolford, President of The McKnight Foundation.
Today, these six temporary funds have evolved into permanent foundations, with collective endowments of $191 million and business financing assets of $55 million. They work in Minnesota’s 80 Greater Minnesota counties to make each of their regions stronger and more prosperous. Each foundation’s priorities are decided by people in its own region, with grants and loans supporting economic development; leadership development; community building; children, youth, families, and older adults; environmental issues; workforce development, and more.
The Minnesota Initiative Foundations promote economic and community development; build the leadership and planning capacity of local communities; coordinate and leverage resources; and stimulate local giving throughout Greater Minnesota. Today, these organizations are recognized not only in Minnesota, but also across the nation for their significant accomplishments in building strong and sustainable rural communities.
On June 9 and 10, 2011, senior staff and Boards of Trustees representing all six Minnesota Initiative Foundations will gather at Grand View Lodge in Nisswa, Minnesota, for a retreat and silver anniversary celebration. The session is entitled, “Celebrating Our Collective Impact… Pursuing Future Opportunities.” Governor Mark Dayton will also proclaim Friday, June 10, 2011, as Minnesota Initiative Foundations Day.
The Minnesota Initiative Foundations were created in 1986 as a partnership between The McKnight Foundation and the citizens of Greater Minnesota. Set up as independent nonprofit philanthropic organizations with local boards of trustees, the six foundations are: the Northland Foundation in Duluth; the Northwest Minnesota Foundation located in Bemidji; West Central Initiative based in Fergus Falls; the Southwest Initiative Foundation in Hutchinson, the Initiative Foundation in Little Falls; and the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation based in Owatonna. For more information about The Minnesota Initiative Foundations, please visit www.greaterminnesota.net.
The Southwest Initiative Foundation is a regional community foundation dedicated to advancing southwest Minnesota through leadership, relationship building, program development and philanthropy. The Foundation has contributed more than $54 million through its grant and loan programs in southwest Minnesota. It has also helped more than 525 businesses start or expand through its business finance programs, which have created or retained more than 8,000 jobs. The Southwest Initiative Foundation is an equal opportunity provider. To learn more, visit www.swifoundation.org.