Itasca Area Community Response Fund Awards $42,750 

The Itasca Area Community Response Fund recently awarded $42,750 in its first round of grants. Grants were provided to local nonprofit organizations working to meet needs emerging as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, including basic needs relief for struggling families and individuals, mental and physical health support, and programs for children and students whose school closures have impacted educational and social development. Funds also supported organizations unable to provide for their normal operating due to this year’s pandemic, whose large fundraiser events remain on hold until everyone’s safety can be assured. 

Response Fund recipients include: 

Boys & Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids and Greenway ($5,000): Funds will help with increased summer operational costs in Grand Rapids due to COVID-19, allowing area youth to access academic and social enrichment.

Accessible Space, Inc. – Moses Residence ($1,000): Funds will support sanitizing and PPE equipment, limiting exposure to the virus for its residents.

Red Cross ($3,750): Funds will help ensure continued collection and safety to blood drives by providing antibody testing for blood donors in the Itasca area.

Itasca Youth for Christ – Campus Life ($15,000): Funds will foster social and emotional growth among students and young adults in Greenway, Grand Rapids, and Deer River schools.

Second Harvest North Central Food Bank ($10,000): Funds will help costs associated with the increased demand for food assistance in the Itasca area during COVID-19.

Reif Center – Youth Education Program ($3,000): Funds will provide health screening tools to ensure safe dance and theater education programming for area youth.

Friends of the Grand Rapids Area Library – Interactive Pre-school Storytime ($2,500): Funds will enable the library to continue providing pre-school development to area children through virtual and remote storytelling programs. 

United Way of 1000 Lakes – Summer Meal Meet-ups ($2,500): Funds will help fight food insecurity among school-age children in Cohasset and Hill City during the health and economic crisis. The program serves fresh and nutritious box lunches to kids under the age of 18 Mondays through Thursdays.

A joint venture between the Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation, United Way of 1000 Lakes, and other area funders, the Community Response Fund aims to help nonprofit organizations in the greater Itasca area navigate the health and economic crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizations may use funds to meet community members’ immediate needs, assist in long-term recovery efforts, or bridge the gap between in-person and virtual service delivery.

An advisory committee made up of local foundation leaders makes funding decisions. They include Bigfork Valley Community Foundation, Blandin Foundation, Deer River Area Health Care Foundation, Grand Itasca Foundation, Itasca Community College Foundation, and Minnesota Power Foundation.

Applications for the second round of response funding are now open. Community organizations in the Itasca area are encouraged to apply through the Community Foundation’s grant portal

For those who wish to support the fund, tax-deductible donations are welcome through a variety of methods, including gifts of cash/check, credit cards, and electronic fund transfers. To make an online donation, visit uwlakes.org and gracf.org. 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.

United Way and Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation cover all administrative fees so that 100 percent of all contributions go directly to community needs.

More information about the fund may be obtained online at uwlakes.org or gracf.org.

 About United Way of 1000 Lakes

Since 1963, the United Way of 1000 Lakes has partnered with local nonprofits to identify critical issues, create partnerships, and raise funds to help people in the Itasca Area. Mobilizing the caring power of the communities it serves, the organization’s mission drives work to create a happier, healthier community. They accomplish this by inspiring collaboration, fundraising, and volunteerism.

 About Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation

The Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation has been connecting donors’ charitable intentions to community needs for over 25 years to make our Greater Itasca Area a better place to live. We invite you to become part of the great work we do and include us in the conversation with your financial or estate planner to answer the question, “What good do you want your money to do?” For more information, visit our website at www.gracf.org or schedule a visit by calling (218) 999-9100.