COVID-19 Response

As our region continues to recover from the impacts of COVID-19 this past fiscal year, the Northland Foundation disbursed more than $4 million in funding designated as COVID-19 response. This took two main forms: grants to provide services for young children and administering grants and technical assistance for small businesses.

Emergency Early Childhood Wrap-around Care

During the past fiscal year, 19 Emergency Early Childhood Wrap-around Care Grants were awarded in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Education on behalf of the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund. These 19 grants supported programming for children ages 0-8 disproportionately impacted by effects of the pandemic: children in rural communities, with disabilities, from low-income households, who are Black, Indigenous, or other people of color, in foster care, and other historically underserved children. Wrap-around Care Grants were directed to children’s social-emotional health, online and distance learning, enrichment programs, and more.

View Relief Grants

Emergency Early Childhood Wrap-Around Care, Northeast Minnesota Schools and Community Organizations: $123,830

To support wrap-around services for children ages 0 to 8 years, especially children from historically underserved populations disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

Boys and Girls Clubs of the Northland, Duluth: $5,000

Lake Superior School District - ISD #381, Two Harbors: $6,000

Nashwauk-Keewatin Schools - ISD #319, Nashwauk: $7,500

Duluth Area Family YMCA, Duluth: $5,000

Cloquet Public Schools - ISD #094, Cloquet: $7,500

South Koochiching-Rainy River School District - ISD #363, Northome: $7,500

Moose Lake Schools - ISD #097, Moose Lake: $8,000

McGregor Schools - ISD #004, McGregor: $7,500

Northern Lights Academy Cooperative, Cloquet: $7,330

Project READ, Grand Rapids: $2,500

Duluth Public Schools - ISD #709, Duluth: $10,000

Spirit of the Lake Community School, Duluth: $5,000

Cook County Schools - ISD #166, Grand Marais: $5,000

Aitkin Public Schools - ISD $001, Aitkin: $10,000

YWCA of Duluth, Duluth: $5,000

Families and Communities Together, Virginia: $5,000

Proctor Public Schools - ISD #704, Proctor: $7,500

CHUM - Churches United In Ministry, Duluth: $7,500

Rock Ridge Public Schools - ISD #2909, Virginia: $5,000

Aid For Small Businesses

The Minnesota Main Street COVID Relief Grants Program was created as a legislative response to the pandemic to provide financial support to small businesses directly affected by the impacts of COVID-19. The program was overseen by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, which named the Northland Foundation as a regional partner to help administer grants for small businesses. Eligible businesses were selected to receive a grant through a state-directed lottery system. Our team processed 350 grants of $10,000-$25,000 each, for a total of $3.9 million awarded to small businesses (geographic spread of recipients in our region shown below).

Main Street COVID Relief Grants $3.9 million

Northland Small Business Development Center

As the regional host of the Northland Small Business Development Center (SBDC), the Foundation helps support 16 business consultants serving northeast Minnesota. In calendar year 2021, this team of professionals spent 5,764 hours working with 951 northeast Minnesota clients (at no charge to clients) to prepare plans and projections, start or sell a business, rethink business models, and manage through unpredictable economic conditions. SBDC consultants also assisted clients with their marketing, accounting, and HR functions, and to apply for state and federal relief programs such as Restaurant Revitalization Grants, and SBA EIDL loans. In 2021-2022, the SBDC partnered with the Arrowhead Intelligent Region initiative to bring a technology microgrant program to small businesses in the region. Tech Boost involved pairing Northland SBDC consultants performing technology audits to 65 small businesses which then had the opportunity to access grants up to $1,000 to adopt new technology recommended by the audit. This program helped small businesses adapt to changes in customer behavior because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the consulting services of Northland SBDC were critical in maximizing impact of this grant program.

COVID-19 Funding Partners

Resources from the following organizations helped support the Northland Foundation Early Childhood Wrap-Around Grants and Minnesota Main Street Small Business Relief Grants for our region’s small businesses.



Minnesota Department of Education: Early Education - Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund


State of Minnesota: Department of Employment and Economic Development

U.S. Department of the Treasury: Community Development Financial Institution Fund

Wells Fargo