Fall 2009


Northland Foundation Announces Nearly $1 Million Federal Grant to Support Nonprofit Capacity-building

It's official. In early October, it was announced that the Northland Foundation has been awarded an $879,903 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under a new program, the Strengthening Communities Fund. This program was created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

With additional resources being contributed by the Northland Foundation and other sources, a total of nearly $1.2 million will be directed towards capacity-building efforts for the region’s nonprofit community.

“The Northland Foundation is a high quality organization that has had a significant impact on northeastern Minnesota. It was a privilege to support them and I’m thrilled they received this grant. I know that they will make it go a long way toward helping families and communities during these challenging economic times.”
~ Senator Al Franken

Nonprofits targeted for the two-year Strengthening Communities Initiative: Building Nonprofit Capacity to Advance Economic Recovery are those that are helping individuals to secure and maintain employment, earn higher wages, and gain greater access to State and Federal benefits and tax credits.

“The intent of the program is to strengthen nonprofit organizations that assist people struggling to overcome economic challenges. We are extremely grateful to Senator Franken, Senator Klobuchar, and Congressman Oberstar who provided critical support to secure federal funding,” said Tom Renier, president of the Northland Foundation.

The current economic meltdown has greatly impacted the hundreds of nonprofits located in the Arrowhead Region.

As many foundations nationwide have sustained a 20 to 40 percent loss in assets, reductions in nonprofit grant-making are widely projected for 2009 and even more so for 2010. At the same time individual donor support, corporate giving, and state and county government funding have also been affected by the recession.

Converging to create a “perfect storm” for nonprofits, demand for nonprofit services, particularly those focused on employment, food, and housing assistance has sharply increased. The Minnesota Council of Non-Profits June 2009 Nonprofit Current Conditions Report indicated that Greater Minnesota nonprofits have seen on average a 66 percent increase in demand for services, and demand is especially high for those providing food, housing, and employment assistance.

Numerous nonprofits that offer critical services to individuals and families are faced with the dilemma of “doing more with less” -- struggling to meet demand in this difficult economic and funding environment.

Over the two-year grant period, the Northland Foundation will manage several components designed to foster innovation and collaboration, with activities that address five critical areas.
Five Critical Areas of Capacity Building:
• organizational development
• program development
• collaboration and community engagement
• leadership development
• evaluation of effectiveness

Selected nonprofit organizations that participate will be supported through training, targeted one-on-one technical assistance, and competitive financial awards.

It is anticipated that as many as 70 nonprofits in the seven-county region could receive some level of capacity-building support.

This new initiative complements Northland’s longtime work in nonprofit capacity building. In addition to the millions of dollars in grants awarded since 1986 to strengthen nonprofit capacity and sustainability, the Foundation also delivers educational events. For example, on October 13th the Foundation hosted Charting a Course II: Moving Forward in the New Nonprofit Reality, a one-day convening offered free of charge to nonprofit leaders.

Watch for more details on this exciting opportunity for the region's nonprofits and communities. The Foundation is planning to formally launch this initiative in January 2010. If you have immediate questions contact Erik Torch, Grant Program Manager.