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.
Southwest Initiative Foundation has built incredible relationships, developed unique programs and collaborated across all sectors to keep our communities strong and vibrant. Our resources and experience positioned us to launch Grow Our Own in 2016, a 10-year commitment to closing the opportunity gap for our kids and their families. Working with friends and partners, we’re using a cradle-to-career approach to ensure southwest Minnesota kids have what they need to succeed by supporting stable families and parenting, high-quality early care and education, K-12 engagement in and out of schools, vibrant and welcoming communities and career on-ramps.
Since 1986 we have…
- Awarded $52.7 million in loans to support 821 businesses, which have created or retained more than 9,600 jobs
- Awarded $36 million in grants to nonprofits, schools and communities
- Established 30 community affiliates and more than 100 donor advised, school and other funds
- Received 1,730 acres of farmland through our Keep It Growing℠ program