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Image: Image for News Item: Blandin Foundation awards $4.8 million in grants

Blandin Foundation awards $4.8 million in grants

GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. – During their winter meeting Dec. 5 and 6, Blandin Foundation trustees approved grants that strengthen rural Minnesota communities, including 32 grants totaling $4.2 million for a range of initiatives underway in the Grand Rapids and Itasca County area.

Itasca Economic Development Corporation is focused on business retention, expansion and recruitment in the Itasca County area.  Matched by community support and other sources, trustees awarded IEDC $500,000 in continued operating support over the next two years.  Blandin Foundation has supported the work of IEDC since its inception in 1981.

Itasca Area Schools Collaborative, a consortium of seven school districts in the Itasca County area, will expand its technology infrastructure and programming for student and community learning through a Blandin Foundation grant of $800,000.  Included in the IASC project are increased wireless bandwidth and cloud technology, plus expansion of telepresence equipment and programming for school and community use. 

The work of the Itasca Area Alliance for Student Success will be boosted through a $297,866 grant to the Search Institute.   During the next three years, this work will include community engagement, capacity building, and measurement in support of the Itasca area’s ambitious pursuit of success for every student.   Search Institute was founded in 1958 and pioneered using social science research to understand the lives, beliefs, and values of youth. 

As December was their annual meeting, trustees approved plans for 2014 including:

  • Grants of $11.7 million, at least 55 percent of which are reserved for the benefit of the Foundation’s home communities in the Itasca County area.  Application deadlines for major grants are March 15, Sept. 15 and Dec. 15.
  • Education Awards of up to $4,000 per local student per year for education programs following high school, based on needs not met through family resources and other financial aid and scholarships.  Applications always are due by May 1. 
  • Continuing partnerships to strengthen the local community of nonprofits, their boards and their capacities to tackle local needs.  Also supporting local leaders in hosting effective and inclusive community conversations.
  • Delivery of eight Blandin Community Leadership Program trainings, including a cohort from Grand Rapids.  Other leadership programs in 2014 will include the Blandin Reservation Community Leadership Program, Leaders in Ethnically Diverse Communities, Leaders Partnering to End Poverty and Academy for Community Engagement.
  • Continuation of the Blandin Community Broadband Program, which focuses on nine Blandin Broadband Communities (including Itasca County) and offers a series of broadband-related grants.
  • Sustained commitment to the Itasca Area Initiative for Student Success, which builds on the success of the collaborative Invest Early program to engage whole local communities in the success of every student, along the pathway from prenatal to early career.
  • Engaging rural partners in raising the voice of rural communities and demonstrating rural Minnesota’s vibrancy and relevance.
  • Ongoing active listening and attentiveness to the unique needs and opportunities in each Itasca area community.

Full details related to the Foundation are online at, with a special section of the site dedicated to the Itasca area.


Located in Grand Rapids, Minn., Blandin Foundation is one of only a handful of foundations in the U.S. focused exclusively on rural communities and the largest rural-based private foundation in Minnesota.  The Foundation seeks and supports vibrant rural Minnesota communities. 

Graphic attached.  Suggested caption:  Blandin Foundation trustees recently approved a grant that supports the work of Itasca area communities as they work for success for every student, as imagined by the community developed Pathway for Student Success.

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