The Itasca Area Community Response Fund effort is a collaborative made up of the Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation, United Way of 1000 Lakes and other community funders that have come together to provide support for organizations that work with people and communities who may be most negatively affected by COVID-19.

The Itasca Area Community Response Fund is an essential and forward-looking approach to supporting the stability of our region’s families, both during and after the coronavirus pandemic.

The fund supports the work of area nonprofit partners providing direct services to families including access to food and supplies, healthcare, childcare, housing, utilities, employment and transportation.

The Fund is designed to complement the work of public health, government, and community foundations efforts by expanding local capacity to address all aspects of the outbreak as efficiently and effectively as possible. We anticipate multiple phases of funding to address both the acute, immediate needs as well as the longer-term impacts of the outbreak and recovery. 

We will provide support for partners working with the immediate and emerging unmet needs of families as fundraising results allow.

Local Funders Launch Fund to Aid Community Recovery Across the Itasca Area

With the anticipated impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) throughout the Itasca Area, United Way of 1000 Lakes and the Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation, in cooperation with other community funders, have created the Community Response Fund aimed at providing additional local relief to organizations affected by the outbreak. Read more.

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. Read more.

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. Read more.

Itasca Area Community Response Fund Awards $75,000 in Second Round of Funding

This fall, the Itasca Area Community Response Fund concluded its second round of grantmaking, allocating $75,028 in funds to 14 nonprofit and community organizations working in and around the Itasca area. To date, the Community Response Fund has distributed over $117,000 in COVID-19 relief funds and will open applications for a third round of funding in November. Read more.

Itasca Area Community Response Fund Awards $38,500 in Third Round of Funding

In December the Itasca Area Community Response Fund concluded its third round of grantmaking, allocating $38,500 in funds across six nonprofit and community organizations working in and around the Itasca area.  Read more.

Itasca Area Community Response Fund Awards $37,500 in Fourth Round of Funding

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last spring, the Itasca Area Community Response Fund has been helping the greater Itasca area navigate the crisis by providing grants to local nonprofits. Read more.

The Itasca Area Community Response Fund has raised more than $193,000, thanks to generous support from numerous individuals and major gifts from:

Blandin Foundation

Deerwood Bank

Fat Boy Motor Sports

L& M Fleet Supply

Mann’s Cinema 8

Minnesota Power Foundation

Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation

Round I Response Fund Recipients ($42,750):

  • Accessible Space, Inc. – Moses Residence ($1,000): Funds will support sanitizing and PPE equipment, limiting exposure to the virus for its residents.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Reif Center – Youth Education Program ($3,000): Funds will provide health screening tools to ensure safe dance and theater education programming for area youth.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Round II Response Fund Recipients ($75,028):

  • Boys & Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids and Greenway ($12,500): Funds will help the Boys & Girls Clubs in Grand Rapids and Coleraine cover operational costs, allowing the clubs to provide consistent youth development programming.
  • Buck Lake Improvement Club ($5,300): Funds will help cover operating costs, allowing the Club to continue offering programming and community resources through the winter.
  • Deer River Firemans Relief Association ($5,000): Funds will help fill the gap created by canceled fundraisers, allowing the Association to stay operational.
  • Deer River Warrior Athletic Booster Club ($2,100): Funds will help make up for revenue lost to cancellations and postponements.
  • Edge of the Wilderness Discovery Center ($1,750): Funds will help the Edge of the Wilderness Discovery Center recover from revenue lost during its closure in the spring of 2020.
  • Grand Itasca Foundation ($11,200): Funds will allow Grand Itasca to implement a Home Care telehealth program, helping patients receive medical care safely from home.
  • Grand Rapids Farmers Market ($2,500): Funds will support the Market’s Power of Produce Program (PoP), which gives children a chance to learn about local agriculture.
  • Great Minds Learning Center – Scholarship Funding ($4,000): Funds will subsidize the cost of teaching sessions to help at-risk students improve their reading and comprehension skills.
  • Great Tails Animal Rescue ($4,300): Funds will help the rescue organization continue their animal foster program in the wake of cancelled fundraisers.
  • KOOTASCA Community Action ($7,500): Funds will allow KOOTASCA to continue providing technology and Internet service to families and individuals in need, helping students distance-learning, patients receiving telemedicine services, and individuals trying to stay connected.
  • Marcell Family Center ($1,500): Funds will help the Marcell Family Center stay operational and maintain their community building in the wake of lost revenue.
    Nashwauk Area Community Fund – Nashwauk-Keewatin Schools ($3,378): Funds will supply the Nashwauk-Keewatin school district with masks and sanitizing supplies for students and teachers.
  • Project Care Free Clinic ($9,000): Funds will allow Project Care to continue providing healthcare and medication assistance to uninsured and underinsured Itasca County residents.
  • United Methodist Church of Grand Rapids – Open Door Coat Rack ($5,000): Funds will support this year’s Open Door Coat Rack, which equips children and teens with outerwear for the winter.

Round III Response Fund Recipients ($38,500):

  • The Community Cafe ($10,000): Funds will help The Community Cafe continue operating at an increased capacity as is necessary to meet the nutritional needs of community members, as well as support safe operations through curbside pickup and delivery options.
  • Deer River Healthcare Volunteers ($7,500): Funds will alleviate the effects of lost revenue from closures and cancellations, allowing the Healthcare Volunteers program to continue serving Deer River and the surrounding communities through their cancer care program, outreach, and more.
  • Forward Health Foundation ($8,000): Funds will support the purchase of a vehicle for use by a Community Care Paramedic in Deer River and the surrounding areas, allowing isolated community members to receive medical care safely in their own homes.
  • Grand Rapids Area Friends of the Library ($3,000): Funds will allow the library to encourage literacy amongst all ages by offering a winter reading program for children and adults, incentivizing community members to read and utilize their local library during a winter of isolation.
  • ISD #318: East Rapids Elementary School ($5,000): Funds will support the purchase of equipment for the school’s Grow in Snow program, which will provide students with more opportunities for outdoor recreation in the winter months.
  • Support Within Reach ($5,000): Funds will offset the cost of equipment purchased to enable staff to work remotely, allowing the organization to continue addressing the increase in sexual violence that the health and economic crisis has brought on.

Round IV Response Fund Recipients ($37,500):

  • Angel Fund ($3,000): Funds will allow the Angel Fund to continue providing assistance and support to cancer patients in and around Itasca County.
  • Itasca County Family YMCA ($10,000): Funds will allow the YMCA to continue serving the health and educational needs of people of all ages during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Legal Aid of Northeastern Minnesota ($4,000): Funds will help the organization increase its capacity to provide legal help to low-income clients in the face of an anticipated wave of post-moratorium evictions.
  • Moose Lodge 2023 ($5,000): Funds will help cover operating costs in the wake of shutdowns and cancellations.
  • Northern Community Radio ($4,000): Funds will help cover the cost of equipment needed for staff to effectively work remotely and connect with the communities they serve.
  • Project Care ($1,500): Funds will help cover the cost of cleaning supplies and protective equipment, allowing Project Care to keep staff, clients, and volunteers safe as the clinic provides in-person care to patients.
  • The Reif Center ($4,500): Funds will help the Reif Center provide accessible programming to combat social isolation in older adults, including low-cost digital performances and free virtual BINGO games.
  • Support Within Reach ($5,500): Funds will help Support Within Reach build capacity as they continue the work of providing sexual violence advocacy and building awareness.

COMMUNITY RESPONSE FUND


The mission of the Itasca Area Community Response Fund is to support nonprofit and other community organizations engaging in immediate basic needs relief, short-term response, and longer-term recovery during the COVID-19 health and economic crisis.

Community Response Fund FAQ

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).

The Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation and United Way of 1000 Lakes will underwrite all costs associated with the Fund, dispersing 100% of the funds directly to COVID-19 health and economic crisis. In the unlikely case that all are not spent; remaining funds will be set aside in a reserve fund for use during future community crisis efforts in the Itasca Area.

The Community Response Fund will reside at the Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation.

The mission of the Itasca Area Community Response Fund is to support nonprofit and other community organizations engaging in immediate basic needs relief, short-term response, and longer-term recovery during the COVID-19 health and economic crisis.

Priority Areas

  • Support nonprofit organizations providing direct assistance to residents with financial need or demonstrable hardship resulting from the COVID-19 health and economic crisis.
  • Provide operating support to nonprofit organizations that are meeting community needs resulting from COVID-19 health and economic crisis and are in financial distress.

The Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation and United Way of 1000 Lakes, in consultation and partnership with other community funders, will administer the Community Response Fund.

An advisory group consisting of community funders and representatives from Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation and United Way of 1000 Lakes will evaluate fund requests. The advisory group will provide community-specific knowledge and ensure regional reach.

Community funders partnering in this effort include Area Community Funds (Deer River, Greenway, Hill City, Greater Itasca, and Nashwauk), Bigfork Valley Community Foundation, Blandin Foundation, Deer River Area Health Care Foundation, Grand Itasca Foundation, and Itasca Community College Foundation.

Community Response Fund grants will be awarded to 501c3 nonprofit organizations, groups fiscally sponsored by a 501c3 nonprofit organization, or other charitable organizations able to receive a tax-deductible contribution (including schools and other public entities) who provide direct assistance to individuals and families with financial need or demonstrable hardship resulting from the COVID-19 health and economic crisis.

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).

Recipients of grants may be asked to submit a brief summary of how the grant dollars were used and what impact they made related to the crisis relief, response, or recovery efforts.

For more information or assistance:

Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation
350 NW 1st Ave., Suite E
Grand Rapids, MN 55744
w: gracf.org
e: sarah.copeland@gracf.org

United Way of 1000 Lakes
350 NW 1st Ave., Suite A
Grand Rapids, MN 55744
w: uwlakes.org
e: kimberly@uwlakes.org

Grant awards will vary in size; we anticipate most will fall within the $2,000 to $20,000 range. Grant terms may vary depending on organizational needs and the scope of crisis response.  We invite you to call or email to discuss your request in advance.

Recipients of grants may be asked to submit a brief summary of how the grant dollars were used and what impact they made related to the crisis relief, response, or recovery efforts.

Gifts to the Fund are accepted in a variety of ways, 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 to “Community Response Fund” in the memo line.

Related questions can be directed to kimberly@uwlakes.org or sarah.copeland@gracf.org.

Organizations seeking COVID-19 response funds should complete an online application on the Community Foundation’s grant portal. Applications for the fourth round of funding should be completed by January 29th.

COVID-19 Resources

Find reliable COVID-19 information and resources, including our local 2-1-1 resource hotline and virtual volunteer opportunities.

Learn More