Southwest Initiative Foundation was born out of crisis more than 30 years ago.
The 1980s were a bleak time for our rural communities. Minnesota’s prime agricultural region was facing its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Farmers were losing land their families had owned for generations. Businesses along Main Streets and industrial parks were closing. Homes were being foreclosed. Families were moving away. People were losing hope.
Minnesota Initiative Foundations
Leaders at The McKnight Foundation based in Minneapolis saw what was happening in Greater Minnesota and wanted to help.
After traveling the state to listen, learn and connect, they knew the solutions would come by empowering local communities to chart their own way forward. In 1986, they started six Minnesota Initiative Foundations, and Southwest Initiative Foundation was born.
Today, we’re an independent community foundation supported by individuals, families, businesses, and organizations who want to strengthen southwest Minnesota.
For 30 years, we responded to our region’s changing needs. We developed programs for everything from getting kids school-ready, to promoting renewable energy, to retaining farmland and more. In 2016, our Board of Directors made the strategic decision to sharpen our focus.
Research shows too many kids in our region aren’t getting the best possible start to their lives. It impacts not just families, but businesses and communities, too. We’re putting decades of experience, relationships and resources to work to help our next generation succeed. We’re committed to Grow Our Own.
Since 1986 we have…
- Awarded $44.3 million in loans to support 700 businesses
- Created/retained 8,590 jobs
- Awarded $30 million in grants to nonprofits, schools and communities
- Established 26 community affiliates and 101 donor advised, school and other funds
- Established 16 Early Childhood Initiative coalitions to give local kids the best start to life
- Received 1,730 acres of farmland through our Keep It Growing℠ program