Initiative Foundation

Mission Statement

To unlock the power of central Minnesota people to build and sustain thriving communities.

Impact and Programs

Accomplishments Strategic Priority 1: Resilient Businesses • We funded $2.139 million in new loans ($2.45 million total approved) to 26 companies creating 96 jobs, retaining 294 jobs, and leveraging over $15 million. Overall, the loan portfolio grew slightly, and performance remained stable with a decline in delinquencies. We introduced two new loan programs: Lender Match program and Non-Profit Loan program, which provides financing up to $50,000. • Business technical assistance was provided to 18 businesses through combined external consulting programs or scholarships, with 14 projects completed by 12/31/2013. All of the completed projects responded to an online survey with 93% reporting they have gained new knowledge, skills or tools to operate their business, improve financial health and/or resiliency. These businesses collectively employed over 250 people and 85% reported growth in sales, net income, net assets, profit, profit margin or market development. Additionally, 93% rated the quality of assistance they received on a scale of 1-5 (5 being excellent) as either 4 (21%) or 5 (72%). • We provided grant and technical support so that our entire region now has access to micro lending programs through partners (Region 5, Southwest Initiative Foundation and St. Cloud State University). We maintain funding relationships with our Small Business Development Centers. Strategic Priority 2: Thriving Communities, Early Childhood and Healthy Lakes & Rivers Partnership • The new “Innovation Networks” community development approach was designed. This framework will foster innovation and creative problem solving while also better engaging younger residents, minorities, and newcomers to the region. The program also seeks to make better use of technology to respect citizen participants’ time and schedules, and support strong communication and sharing of ideas across sectors and outside of geographical boundaries. In addition to surfacing creative strategies, our intent is to “amplify” the impact of our investments in community development by holding up successes (and lessons learned) throughout the region via IQ Magazine and online communication tools. • Thriving Communities Initiative (TCI) leadership training and programming was delivered in Foley (Benton County) and Rush City (Chisago County), while continuing to provide technical assistance to several dozen communities throughout the region on issues ranging from workforce development, financing for community facilities, trails development, and local foods. • The Initiative Foundation has been recommended for $4 million in funding by Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council to support innovative pilot programming to prevent the spread of Aquatic Invasive Species as part of our Healthy Lakes and Rivers Partnership (HLRP) program. • A “Boomtown” workshop by Jack Schultz and Craig Lindvahl was held in St. Cloud to discuss strategies for successful rural development. This event attracted 150 registrants, and was re-broadcast by public television throughout the state, in partnership with other Minnesota Initiative Foundations (MIFs). Three of the MIFs will be supporting pilot “Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities” (CEO) programs in 2014-2015 (including Staples-Motley School District in central Minnesota) to help young adults explore career options in their home town while also fostering meaningful relationships with private sector leaders. • Regional Early Childhood Initiative Coordinator meetings were held with training topics such as Parent Aware (child care rating programs and scholarships) and Sustaining Your Coalition. Two reflective training sessions for early childhood professionals were provided in coordination with the MN Home Visiting Coalition. Our staff participated in statewide prenatal to age three planning (MN Department of Health) and PreK-3rd Grade Literacy (MN Department of Education) efforts. • Our new Early Childhood Dental Network (similar to one developed by the West Central Initiative) was launched thanks to a grant of $60,000 from the Otto Bremer Foundation. Strategic Priority 3: Thriving Organization Partnership (TOP) • With support from Otto Bremer Foundation, Morgan Family Foundation, Blandin Foundation and US Department of Agriculture, the Thriving Organizations Partnership (TOP) programs were fully implemented in 2013. • The first cohort of TOP Financial Resiliency through Social Enterprise (FRSE) nonprofit organizations completed the year-long training and assistance program. Along with professional assistance from Foundation staff, the Nonprofits Assistance Fund and the Small Business Development Center, each organization created a comprehensive business plan to advance an earned-income social enterprise. All of the participating organizations reported that they are more financially resilient as a result of FRSE participation. • Four professionally-facilitated TOP Leaders Circle groups were formed across the region. Twenty-seven nonprofit executive directors participated in these groups, designed to build leadership skills and abilities, mitigate organizational challenges, and decrease a sense of professional isolation. • The Nonprofits Assistance Fund, MAP for Nonprofits and MN Legal Corp each held workshops and/or offered Open Office Hours to Central Minnesota nonprofits at the Initiative Foundation office in Little Falls. A total of 28 individuals representing 21 nonprofits received assistance. Over 90 percent reported learning something that will help increase their organizational capacity. • Fourteen nonprofit organizations reported enhanced or increased level of services as a result of hosting a year-long VISTA member. Each of these VISTA members also participated in monthly Leadership for Life training activities in order to increase their own nonprofit professional development. • Eleven modest grants were made to small nonprofit organizations (annual budgets under $100k) to engage MAP for Nonprofits in individual technology assessments. • Early stages of a new E-Learning capacity-building platform were developed in order to serve a greater number of nonprofit organizations. Eight to ten nonprofit organizations will pilot the E-Learning program by June of 2014, with plans to offer to all nonprofits in our region by the winter of 2014. Strategic Priority 4: Local Philanthropy and Endowment Campaign • We raised 132% of our annual Endowment Campaign goal with gifts from 209 donors. With two years of the new phase completed we are at 56.38% of our five-year goal. • New program grants were received for Thriving Communities, Early Childhood Dental, Thriving Organizations and Sauk Rapids Rice Education Foundation totaling over $267,000 (excluding deferred revenue from prior year). New loan recapitalization commitments totaled $97,529. • We added six new component funds and achieved 221% of our Turn Key designated and advised endowment goal from 499 donors. The Initiative Foundation now hosts a total of 74 funds. • During the year we received support from all 14 counties and 93 of our 160 cities. Marketing and Communications • A new website was launched utilizing a responsive design platform to meet mobile, tablet and desktop information consumption needs. IQ Magazine content was integrated into the new site. Content from a single, unified site is now being shared more broadly in order to drive increase traffic and Initiative Foundation awareness. We also incorporated into the new site Turn Key Component Fund information, planned giving tools, and NetSuite portals for donors, fund advisers and various financial transactions. Online data portals for donors and fund advisers provide paperless, real-time access to online giving activity, balances, past giving and grant transactions. • The format for IQ Magazine was refined to focus on economy, community and philanthropy trends with an increased focus on business and Foundation activities. • Our 2013 Initiative Awards Event was held in St. Cloud with 415 in attendance. This event drove awareness of Foundation initiatives while spotlighting economic, community and philanthropic heroes of the region. • We rolled out a new brand and brand image to have a broader, more youthful appeal and began the process of revising donor-related print materials and program fact sheets. Grantmaking and Strategic Initiatives • A total of $2,612,596 in grant funds was awarded in 2013, including $1,782,913 administered through our Community and Turn Key Funds, $419,433 through our Innovation Fund, $138,000 which supported community development through our Thriving Communities and Early Childhood Initiatives, $130,000 to nonprofits through our Thriving Organization Partnership, and $91,000 to support economic development projects. • We helped secure a $500,000 grant to City of Wadena from the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation for the community’s Wellness Center and tornado recovery initiative. • We continue to co-facilitate the Greater St. Cloud Community Priorities process in partnership with the Central Minnesota Community Foundation and the St. Cloud Times. The initiative is now in its fourth year, and has elevated issues such as developing pathways out of poverty, welcoming immigrants and refugees and opening doors to community leadership opportunities, supporting cradle to career workforce training and education, selecting design and location of a regional aquatic center, and recognizing the Mississippi River as a key ecological, recreational, and cultural asset for the region. • The 2014 grant budget is $1,562,000. The decrease from 2013 levels is due in large part to completion of the Wadena Wellness Center program (a special short-term initiative that we administered), and increases in dedicated program funding for community development/early childhood investments and support for nonprofits. Our priorities for discretionary funding include support for programs that serve vulnerable children and families, and projects which develop, retain and attract skilled workers and young families to central Minnesota.
Current Goals Strategic Priorities and 2014 Targets Resilient Businesses—Retain and create quality jobs by providing financing and coordinating business development services. • 300 living wage jobs created or retained • 20 companies receive business development services with growth in net income or assets, sales and market development • $2,500,000 million in business financing • $11.8 million private leverage Thriving Communities—Advance community vitality through increased public-private partnerships. • 3 new communities selected • 10 communities advance projects related to Innovation Network themes • 10 communities attract or retain skilled workers and/or young families related to Innovation Network projects • 14 communities advance new opportunities that increase the number of children entering kindergarten better prepared to succeed • 4 communities improve the quality of lakes and rivers Thriving Organizations—Increase economic security of individuals, families and children by improving the effectiveness and resiliency of nonprofits. • 10-15 nonprofit organizations have greater financial resiliency • 10-15 nonprofit organizations demonstrate measureable change • 90-130 nonprofit organizations have workforce with increased skills and abilities • 30-40 leaders have new information to benefit their nonprofit and community organizations Local Philanthropy—Build permanent endowments that allow donors to address local needs and opportunities • 1 new community fund established • 2 new agency/association endowments established • 3 new donor advised funds established Fund Development • $268,000 general endowment • $200,000 designated endowment • $1.28 million program grants (includes McKnight phase grant) • $1.05 million loan recap • $2.8 million 2014 fund development goal Grantmaking • $1,562,000 Grant and Scholarship Awards Communications • 4 issues of IQ published with economic development, community and philanthropy trends and an increased focus on business • 35% increase in usage
Community or Constituency Served The Initiative Foundation serves the 14-county central Minnesota region including the counties of: Benton, Cass, Chisago, Crow Wing, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Pine, Sherburne, Stearns, Todd, Wadena and Wright. Our constituents are citizens of the 14-county region including community members, business leaders, nonprofit organizations, lake and river associations, donors, loan recipients.
Geographic Area Served The Initiative Foundation serves the 14-county central Minnesota region including the counties of: Benton, Cass, Chisago, Crow Wing, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Pine, Sherburne, Stearns, Todd, Wadena and Wright.

Reports & Finances

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405 First Street SE
Little Falls, MN 56345
Phone: 320-632-9255

General Information

Alternative Name: Central Minnesota Initiative Fund
EIN: 36-3451562
Principal Staff: Kathy Gaalswyk
Number of Full-Time Equivalents (FTE): 22
Volunteers: 21
Number of Clients: In 2013, the Initiative Foundation actively supported 15 early childhood coalitions and launched the Early Childhood Dental Network Program. We added two new communities to our Thriving Communities Initiative and continue to support 25 active groups. We continue to support several nonprofits through technical assistance; engaged 20 nonprofit leaders in a peer learning "Leaders Circles" forum. Twenty-eight individuals from 21 organizations received consulting (legal, etc.) through open office hours. Every one of the 14 counties in our region have multiple lake and river associations that we continue to support and provide technical assistance. Seventeen Volunteers were deployed in project sites throughout the region through our Volunteers in Service to America program. Twenty-six loan clients representing 250 employees received funding and/or technical assistance. IQ Magazine (quarterly publication) has a readership of 15,000 subscribers.


Board Chair: Larry Korf
Number of Board Members: 15
Average Member Attendance: 10.3

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