Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) recently approved 22 grants through its Small Town Grant: COVID-19 Response program totaling $192,500 to support towns of 10,000 or less in SMIF’s 20-county region.
The Small Town Grant program was launched in 2017 to support smaller communities which often lack sufficient financial resources to help them grow and address challenges. Since then, SMIF has supported 43 towns, and a wide variety of initiatives, through the grant.
This year, the grant program was entirely focused on responding to the needs that have emerged or increased as a result of the pandemic. Funding requests addressed issues including technology needs for equitable distance learning, support for food shelves due to increased demand and programs that assist businesses experiencing financial hardship.
The 2020 Small Town Grant: COVID-19 Response award recipients are:
•$5,000 to Alden Area Food Shelf for food pantry equipment to support an expansion in storage space due to an increase in demand, and to support the Alden-Conger School District Backpack Program which provides meals to students.
•$5,000 to Cannon Falls Economic Development Authority for a marketing campaign to bring visitors to the area in order to support businesses facing financial hardship.
•$10,000 to Circle of Friends Thrift Store in Winthrop for creating an online store and delivery system to support vulnerable populations by providing affordable essential household items.
•$7,500 to Dodge County Faith in Action to hire additional support for services which support elderly clients including transportation for medical appointments, housekeeping chores and more.
•$10,000 to Fillmore Central School District in Fillmore County for essential technology to provide quality and equitable instruction for students during distance learning.
•$10,000 to Hayfield Economic Development Authority for a program to reimburse businesses for unexpected expenses such as Personal Protective Equipment and additional cleaning supplies.
•$10,000 to Hometown Resource Center in St. Charles to support an expansion of the food shelf to accommodate an increase in demand.
•$10,000 to Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton School District for Personal Protective Equipment, a part-time Health Aide to assist with COVID communications and health concerns, a backpack program for student weekend meals and snack cart funding for students as a result of extended lunch times to accommodate physical distancing.
•$5,000 to Jobs Plus Incorporated in Waseca County, which provides day and employment supports to individuals with disabilities, for Personal Protective Equipment and cleaning equipment to ensure the health and safety of these individuals.
•$10,000 to Kasson-Mantorville Schools for a tutoring and family support program to assist young children with their school work as they adjust to distance learning, and also to assist with staffing needs by providing tutors or teachers to be with children in child care centers and preschool programs.
•$10,000 to Lanesboro Economic Development Authority for a program to reimburse businesses for unexpected expenses such as Personal Protective Equipment and additional cleaning supplies.
•$10,000 to Madelia Public Schools for essential technology to provide quality and equitable instruction for students during distance learning.
•$5,000 to the City of Mantorville for a marketing campaign to bring visitors to the area in order to support businesses facing financial hardship.
•$10,000 to Mapleton Area Foundation to support the Maple River Loaves and Fishes Food Shelf through a gift card program and to support businesses experiencing financial hardship through a grant program.
•$10,000 to Montgomery Community Foundation for a gift certificate program that supports residents and businesses experiencing financial hardship.
•$10,000 to the City of Pine Island for a tent to provide sheltered outdoor seating for local bars and restaurants in order to comply with State re-opening guidelines and maintain income for those establishments which have been facing financial hardship.
•$10,000 to Plainview Public Library to create a volunteer league which will connect community members by building a roster of their skills, talents and interests in order to combat the isolation brought on by social distancing.
•$10,000 to Sibley County Library System for technology including internet hotspots for patrons who do not have access to those services but rely on the internet to work from home, do distance learning or have virtual medical visits.
•$10,000 to Uniting Cultures/Uniendo Culturas in St. James to provide support equipment for the St. James Public School food service program in order to accommodate physical distancing guidelines; to provide personal care products and folding grocery carts for patrons of the Watonwan County Food Shelf; for essential technology to provide quality and equitable instruction for students during distance learning; to print informational posters about COVID-19 in Spanish for posting in area businesses; to supply individual boxes for students in the School Age Child Care program to keep school supplies clean and separate.
•$10,000 to Wabasha Area Food Shelf to support moving into a new space which will help them meet an increase in demand.
•$10,000 to Waseca-Le Sueur Regional Library for technology including internet hotspots for patrons who do not have access to those services but rely on the internet to work from home, do distance learning or have virtual medical visits.
•$5,000 to the City of Winnebago for technology including internet hotspots for Muir Library patrons who do not have access to those services but rely on the internet to work from home, do distance learning or have virtual medical visits.
“We are honored to be able to support the most immediate needs of some of our smallest communities during this health and economic crisis,” said SMIF President and CEO Tim Penny. “We hope this funding will have a lasting impact in these towns, long after the pandemic is over.”
In addition to this program, SMIF has been providing direct support to entrepreneurs, early childhood professionals and communities through the crisis, nearing $11 million in impact with the support of many partners. For more information, visit smifoundation.org/covid-19.
The Small Town Grant: COVID-19 Response Grants are made possible with support from the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation Fund at the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation.
About Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation
Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF), a donor-supported foundation, invests for economic growth in the 20 counties of south central and southeastern Minnesota. The Foundation has provided more than $121 million in grants, loans and programming within the region during the past 34 years. SMIF’s key interests include early childhood, community and economic development. To learn more about our work and mission, visit www.smifoundation.org.