Itasca Area Community Response Fund Opens Applications

United Way of 1000 Lakes and the Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation have announced that grant applications for the Itasca Area Community Response Fund are now open. Nonprofits and other community organizations looking for assistance with meeting COVID-19 specific needs, as well as those helping with longer-term recovery efforts, are encouraged to apply.

To date, the fund has raised more than $171,000 through donations from individuals, foundations, and businesses. The fund began accepting donations in April after leadership at United Way and the Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation swiftly began collaborating to help the community navigate the health and economic effects of the pandemic.

“The generosity in our community is incredible”, remarks Sarah Copeland, Interim Director of Operations at the Community Foundation. “With donations from Blandin Foundation, L& M Fleet Supply, Minnesota Power Foundation, and numerous caring individuals and families, we hope to help local organizations continue to support our community with the good work they do.”

In the interest of efficiency and efficacy, grant applications are brief and reporting requirements are minimal, so as not to further burden already-stressed organizations. The response fund will accept applications on a rolling basis, with applications being reviewed in several rounds as long as funds are available. Upon submission, applications will be reviewed and granted by an advisory group made up of local funders. The group of funders anticipates a quick turnaround time between the application closing and funds being disbursed.

“We’re aiming for maximum flexibility – these funds should go where they’re most needed,” said United Way Executive Director Kim Brink Smith. “Our goal is to help meet the urgent needs of community members, as well as to help struggling organizations weather the longer-term effects of this economic crisis.”

Copeland and Brink Smith spent quite a bit more time talking about how wonderful it was for so many local foundations and funders to be working together for this one purpose.

  • Bigfork Valley Community Foundation
  • Blandin Foundation
  • Deer River Area Health Care Foundation
  • Essentia Health
  • Grand Itasca Foundation
  • Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation
  • Itasca Community College Foundation
  • Lake Country Power Round Up
  • Minnesota Power Foundation
  • United Way of 1000 Lakes

Organizations interested in applying can submit an application online through the Community Foundation’s Grant Portal. Simply click on the Grants & Getting Help page on the Community Foundation’s website. Applications for the first round of funding should be submitted by July 15, 2020.

Those interested in donating to the fund can do so online at or Check donations can be made to United Way of 1000 Lakes (Suite A) or Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation (Suite E) and mailed to 350 NW 1st Ave., Grand Rapids, MN 55744. Include a reference of “Community Response Fund” in the memo line.

Who’s Eligible to Apply?
Any group or organization applying for response fund grants must be 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, fiscally sponsored by a 501(c)(3) organization, or able to receive a tax-deductible donation (this includes schools and other public entities).

Organizations must be located in and serving populations in Itasca County and the five surrounding communities of Bena (Cass County), Blackduck (Beltrami County), Hill City (Aitkin County), Northome (Koochiching County), and Remer (Cass County).

For additional information about the fund and eligibility, visit