19:47 PM

A Strong Statement of Community Commitment

$1.5 million awarded to local government and nonprofit organizations

More than $1.5 million was awarded to local nonprofit and government agencies through Sourcewell’s Community Impact Funding last week.

Following finalization this week by Sourcewell’s Board of Directors, seven nonprofit organizations will receive a combined total of $500,000 while 22 local government agencies will receive just over $1 million in funding.

According to Paul Drange, director of regional services at Sourcewell, the selection and allocation of funds was done a bit differently this year. Funding requests on behalf of local government agencies were reviewed by the Community Solutions Advisory Committee, comprised of local government staff from across central Minnesota. Organizations that passed the initial review were then entered into a lottery drawing, and projects were awarded at random until funding was exhausted. 

“We changed up our process from previous years for our local government members,” Drange explained. “This year we wanted to fulfill requests around basic needs within their office/service areas. Some asked for office furniture, flooring, technology, etc. Since all proposals were similar in scope and were smaller dollar amounts per request, we decided to use the randomizer to award the dollars. The advisory committee seemed to like the process, and our team thought it went very well.”

Nonprofit applications followed past practice: applications were reviewed by Sourcewell staff and its nonprofit advisory council; then eligible projects advanced to Review Day, held June 14 at Sourcewell. Here, staff, volunteers, and board members of nonprofit organizations in Sourcewell’s five-county area of service (Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, Todd, and Wadena counties) were invited to hear each project proposal and then vote and rank projects for funding.

Sourcewell Community Solutions Specialist Tammy Filippi said more than 75 nonprofit representatives from throughout the region participated in Review Day, ranking the requests and making recommendations for funding.

Both Drange and Filippi noted that the $1.5 million in funding awarded for 2023 is more than double what was awarded in 2022.

“We were able to act on feedback and needs that our members were sharing with us,” Filippi said of the sizable increase. “Last year we assessed our process and changed it to allow members to apply for funding that will support their entity in ways that are meaningful and impactful to them.”


Programs voted to receive financial support include:


Nonprofit funding

Project: Textile Recycling Pilot Project
Organizations: Bridges of Hope and Salem West
Description: $100,000 to purchase a fabric baler, skid steer, weighing station, and other equipment needed to open the first onsite recycling center in their service area. Using donations from BoH's Common Goods thrift stores and Salem West's Mustard Seed Thrift Store, they will collect textiles in unsellable condition or unsuitable for re-use, collectively recycling and diverting 435,900 pounds of textile waste from local landfills annually. Recycled textiles will be sold to create an additional revenue stream for both organizations, allowing them to serve more families and individuals each year, helping them meet immediate basic needs and build a foundation for long-term health and stability.

Project: Farms-to-Food Shelf, Phase II
Organizations: Lakes Area Food Shelf, Pine River-Backus Family Center/Food Shelf, and CommUnity Meal Program
Description: $56,246 to offer year two of the Farms-to-Food Shelf program that provides fresh, nutrient-rich fresh produce to low-income families who cannot afford to purchase it. The produce is grown by 10 local farmers/growers dedicated to building strong, healthy communities. The program is supported by schools, physicians, business, area nonprofits, and community members who volunteer to help farmers with planting, maintaining crops, and harvesting.

Project: LUCAS Devices: Enhancing Emergency Response
Organizations: Crow Wing County First Responders – Zones 2 and 3 
Description: $43,392 to purchase two LUCAS devices. These devices will improve patient outcomes and reduce the physical strain on first responders during CPR. By working together, both agencies will foster knowledge-sharing, improve response efficiency, and create a stronger emergency medical service network, ultimately benefiting the communities they serve.

Project: Restoration from Addiction and/or Homelessness
Organizations: My Neighbor to Love Coalition (MNTLC) and Lighthouse Beginnings (LHB)
Description: $94,000 to create two course sets: Life Skills and Employment Readiness and Supportive Friendship. These courses, together, will maximize success for those who want to increase their income and stability, enter the workforce, become more self-sufficient, and improve relationships and life skills. Courses are targeted for the benefit of those experiencing homelessness, those in recovery, and/or those experiencing poverty, but are open to anyone who wants to learn.

Project: Forever Horses
Organizations: Pohl Children’s Scholarship Foundation, LLC and Mounted Eagles, Inc.
Description: $30,000 to create a partnership program called Forever Horses. This program will provide funding for children experiencing illness or grief and their families to participate in equine-related activities free of charge. Forever Horses will provide horsemanship as a release or avenue to deal with the difficult emotions related to illness or grief.

Project: SANE Pilot Program
Organizations: Sexual Assault Services and WeARE
Description: $100,000 to provide a SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) pilot program which provides patient-centered, trauma-informed services to all who seek assistance in local emergency departments after a sexual assault. Sexual assault is a serious public health problem affecting every community, and people of all genders, ages, and socio-economic status. This community collaboration, based on best practices of expert medical care and compassionate evaluation and treatment, is an important step in working toward the goal of a healthy community.

Project: Hope on Purpose
Organizations: Wellness in the Woods and The Shop
Description: $76,362 for a program that will utilize the creativity of youth and persons in recovery to educate communities about seldom-discussed topics: substance use and the prevalence of mental health-combined challenges. Hope on Purpose will reach out to corrections staff with compassion and caring to learn from, and share with them, concerns about their safety.


Government agency funding

Project: Town hall remodel (ADA compliance)       
Organization: Birchdale Township             
Description: $28,354 to update and improve town hall so that it remains a vital community resource for the future.

Purpose: Public safety personnel wellness project
Organization: City of Brainerd – police and fire departments
Description: $50,000 to promote physical and mental wellbeing of staff and volunteers with the purchase of exercise equipment and "Check Up from the Neck Up" mental health opportunities.

Purpose: IT and phone upgrades
Organization: City of Crosby        
Description: $50,000 for IT and communication improvements to increase communication capacity and maintain a high level of customer service while supplying better connectivity for community members at the community center. Fiber connections for speed and durability coordinated with a new phone system will facilitate improved communication among staff and members of the community.

Purpose: Updating outdated equipment
Organization: Crow Wing Township
Description: $41,000 to purchase a zero-turn mower, sub-compact utility tractor, and quick hitch snowblower.

Purpose: City upgrades
Organization: City of Deerwood  
Description: $50,000 for auditorium upgrades create a more efficient and welcoming space for council meetings, as well as update the lighting in the fire hall to ensure the safety of volunteer firefighters.

Purpose: Serving Our City to Serve our Community
Organization: City of East Gull Lake
Description: $50,000 to purchase software and equipment to service residents, as well as provide repairs to failing infrastructure.

Project: City hall repairs
Organization: City of Federal Dam            
Description: $50,000 to help improve the structural integrity of the Federal Dam City Hall by fixing sagging floors, leaning walls, and replace floor joists. The updates will enable the city hall to resume hosting community events and open the doors to the public.

Project: Weather sirens
Organization: City of Fifty Lakes 
Description: $50,000 to invest in a weather warning system and ensure the safety of both residents and visitors.

Project: Turnout gear
Organization: Flensburg Fire Department
Description: $50,000 to purchase 17 new sets of turnout gear to better equip firefighters and promote safety.

Project: Gearing Up to Impact Firefighter Safety  
Organization: Garrison Fire and Rescue 
Description: $50,000 to purchase new equipment and a fill station for SCBA air bottles for firefighters.

Purpose: Motorola radio purchase
Organization: City of Lake Shore 
Description: $48,761 to update police department radios to meet state requirements, enable officers to cross communicate with multi-jurisdictional agencies throughout the area, and help with emergency response within neighboring communities.

Purpose: Firefighter turnout gear              
Organization: Little Falls Fire Department              
Description: $43,850 to purchase 10 complete sets of turnout gear to outfit new firefighters hired in 2023. Current turnout gear is no longer NFPA compliant as it is over 15 years old. The new turnout gear will provide for the firefighters' safety while training and when responding to emergencies.

Project: Ed Pollard Community Center renovation              
Organization: City of Osakis         
Description: $50,000 to help renovate the Ed Pollard Community Center and better serve the community.

Project: City hall renovations
Organization: City of Pequot Lakes           
Description: $50,000.00 to renovate city hall to create more accessible space for the public and more functional space for staff.

Purpose: Firefighter turnout gear and voice pagers            
Organization: Pine River Fire Department              
Description: $45,110 to purchase new firefighter turnout gear and voice pagers, improving communication and safety.

Purpose: Emergency extraction tools
Organization: Randall Fire Department
Description: $40,000 for mechanical tools to provide rescue for trapped victims. This portable equipment will enable rapid extraction in difficult circumstances while keeping responders safe while rescuing community members.

Project: Emergency management              
Organization: City of Royalton     
Description: $46,091 to help enhance communication capabilities between emergency departments, making it easier and more timely to view and disseminate information to enhance response.

Purpose: City Hall/Council safety updates              
Organization: City of Sebeka        
Description: $50,000 to update City Hall for increased efficiencies in public interactions and provide increased safety measures.

Purpose: Central Square CAD and records transition
Organization: City of Staples        
Description: $50,000 to transition to a new records system and mobile data system that will provide for computer-aided dispatch for the Staples Police Department.

Purpose: Vehicle upgrades           
Organization: City of Upsala        
Description: $50,000 to help replace both a plow truck and public works truck to improve safety of city staff and ensure infrastructure remains well maintained.

Purpose: TruNarc handheld narcotics analyzer     
Organization: Wadena County    
Description: $39,204 to purchase a TruNarc Narcotics Analyzer to be used to promote law enforcement safety while working to stop the ongoing trafficking and distribution of illegal narcotics in central Minnesota.

Purpose: Equipment update
Organization: City of Walker                       
Description: $31,000 to help purchase radar units, laptops, breath test machines, a Halligan tool, patrol rifles for the police department.