We're working to improve education outcomes, access to healthcare, and economic opportunities for all men, women, and children. We build capacity, facilitate partnerships, and invest back into the organizations that are working on the ground to address the Itasca area's most pressing needs to create a vibrant community for all.

Resource Round-Up

Discussions with our partners, particularly our monthly roundtables, bring light to issues that are facing our region's nonprofit sector. Here, we've begun compiling training opportunities and other resources that our partners might find helpful.

As always, we value your input. If you have any questions or concerns about the information on this page or just want to give your feedback, please call us at 218-999-7570 or email kimberly@uwlakes.org.

Capacity Building

AmeriCorps Vista: Ecolibrium3, a Duluth-based community organization, is seeking host sites for AmeriCorps Vista members in northern MN. Vista members increase organizational capacity, address community issues, and work to end poverty. Learn more


Digital Accessibility Bootcamp: This free program takes participants through the steps of building a fully accessible online presence. Provided resources include webinars, best practices, and an action plan, which participants can access at their own pace or through the recommended 5-day learning plan. Learn more

Grammarly:  Grammarly, which provides tips and assistance as you write online, provides its premium service free to nonprofits. A favorite of United Way of 1000 Lakes staff, the app allows users to save time and keep their communications clear and consistent. Apply

Gift of Communications Event: February 9th | 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. | Virtual | Free
Hosted by the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits (MCN) and International Association of Business Communicators – Minnesota Chapter (IABC MN), this event will see 15 nonprofits receiving a free consultation from a communications professional. Apply

United Way Social Media: Is there something you’d like United Way to share on our social media pages? Let us know by filling out our Social Media Request Form. We’re always looking for more content and opportunities to spotlight our partners and the work they’re doing. Request


Insecurity Podcast: Episodes 77 & 78, “Working from Home,” by Evan Francen, discuss security concerns and mitigation for remote workers.

LastPass stores your personal and/or business passwords across all your devices without sacrificing security.

Ready.gov is a national public service campaign designed to educate and empower the American people to prepare for, respond to, and mitigate emergencies, including natural and man-made disasters. Topics range from Cybersecurity to IT Disaster Recovery Plans.

SecuritySudio has a collection of free information security policy templates that security experts have assembled for others to reference and utilize. They have been filled with placeholders to make customizing them quick and easy. These are meant to provide you with a solid policy template foundation from which to begin constructing information security policies for your organization. Their Information Security Model quiz can be used to evaluate your organization’s information security strategy.

S2Me is a simple tool you can use for free (always) to assess your cybersecurity and safety habits and use what you learn to better protect what matters to us the most. Simple; assess, consider recommendations, make changes, and manage your progress.

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

Diversity & Inclusion Employer Action Guide
The Equity Committee of the Duluth Workforce Development Board assembled this action guide to help employers in our region improve diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). The guide offers concrete practices to build diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplaces in the areas of recruitment, hiring, onboarding, and retention of staff. Much of the information contained in this guide was crowd-sourced from employers and experts committed to achieving equity outcomes. View guide

Diversity Toolkit: A Guide to Discussing Identity, Power and Privilege
This toolkit is meant for anyone who feels there is a lack of productive discourse around issues of diversity and the role of identity in social relationships, both on a micro (individual) and macro (communal) level. Perhaps you are a teacher, youth group facilitator, student affairs personnel or manage a team that works with an underserved population. Learn more

Equity.UnitedWay.org: This website contains content, tools, and resources to help United Ways and network partners become more equitable organizations and advance changes that close persistent disparities experienced by historically disadvantaged and/or marginalized communities. Get started by completing the Organizational Assessment.

Give Your Own Unbiasing Workshop, Google
This resource offers ideas and suggestions for talking about unconscious bias and arming employees with the vocabulary and skills to address and talk about unconscious bias. It is meant to provide guidelines, not act as a script or manual. Users are encouraged to customize the content and only use what is relevant for their own community and organization. Learn more

Implicit Bias Resource Guide
We all have implicit biases which affect the way we live and work in the world. Identifying how these biases may negatively affect workers and the bottom line is pivotal in the development of workplace equality. SHRM has gathered the following list of resources (video, articles, books) to highlight work being done in this area. Learn more

Leading with Intent: Reviewing the State of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion on Nonprofit Boards: This report from Leading with Intent explores the extent to which boards are reflective of the communities they are seeking to serve, how boards are thinking about racial inequity in relation to the organization’s mission and programmatic outcomes, and board practices related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Download report

Six Steps Nonprofit Boards Can Take to Advance DEI Goals
A recent study found that nonprofit boards are 78.6 percent white. That means nonprofit boards do not reflect the make-up of the American population or the constituents these nonprofits and foundations serve. Nilan Johnson Lewis recently released an article outlining a roadmap for a community foundation (or any nonprofit) when thinking about updating governing documents with an eye toward promoting the organization’s DEI goals.

Steps We Took to Create the Americans for the Arts Statement on Cultural Equity: Americans for the Arts shares the tools and strategy they used to devise an appropriate and relevant equity statement for their organization. Read more

Tips to Reduce Bias in Hiring Practices: Quiz | PDF
Unconscious bias occurs when individuals make judgments at least partially influenced by gender, race or other prohibited factors without realizing they have done so, usually based on societal stereotypes or their own personal experiences.

True Tuesdays: The TRUE (Transforming Rural Understanding of Equity) Partnership hosts a series of Zoom explorations to identify, nurture, model, and advance actions that support a rural Minnesota that is safe, inclusive, and prosperous for all. Sign up to attend an upcoming session, or view past sessions and read related resources. Learn more

Media Resources: Ouch! Your Silence Hurts.  |  1619 Podcast  |  Systemic Racism Explained  |  Amend: The Fight for America

Mental Health Resources

Bounce Back Project: To help you be resilient and stay encouraged during this difficult time, the Bounce Back Project provides timely and useful “Stay at Home” resources for people of all ages and situations. They offer resources, gathered from reliable sources, categorized into four areas; For Kids, For Fun, Self-Care and More Info. You’ll find a variety of online activities, videos, projects, good reads, games, links to key COVID-19 websites, healthy and tasty ideas and much more! Learn more

MDH: The agency launched a new campaign this week call #StayConnectedMN. This is a four-week communications plan that aims to address mental health and well-being across Minnesota. There is a free toolkit (and pocket guide free to download as well) to help guide the work for those that participate. Learn more

Professional Development Opportunities

Nonprofit Advocacy 101: January 20th | 9:30 – 10:30 a.m. | Virtual | $25 – $35
In this session, nonprofits will come together to learn about how advocacy can further an organization’s mission and the ingredients for a successful legislative visit. Participants will also learn about legislative process and do’s and don’ts of nonprofit advocacy. Register

Nonprofit Finance & Sustainability Conference: March 28th & 30th | 8:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. | Virtual | $175 – $300
Attendees of the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits’ Finance & Sustainability Conference will hone skills around accounting, employee recruiting and retention, data security, negotiating benefits, business modeling, and equitable fiscal leadership. Register

Nonprofit Marketing Summit: The Big Innovation: March 28 – April 2nd | 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. | Virtual | Free – $197
Attendees of Community Boost’s annual Nonprofit Marketing Summit have access to more than 60 sessions led by leaders in the field, on topics ranging from peer-to-peer messaging to social media strategies. Attendance is free, with a paid VIP option that allows attendees to watch recordings at a later date. Register

Relevant Reading

The Best (Free) Tech for Nonprofits: From security to self-care, Flipcause recaps a 30-minutes session from the 2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference on the best free tech tools for nonprofits. Read more

Beyond Digital After COVID-19: Self-Assessment Questions – The NonProfit Times: Michael Silberman, executive director of the Mobilisation Lab, and Hanna Thomas Uose, a principal consultant at Align, serve up questions for leaders and managers to help come out of the Covid-19 crisis even stronger than before. Read more

Creating Affordable Housing Opportunities Means Talking Equity: To attain affordable housing for all, we must build public support by shifting narratives away from consumer choice and personal responsibility. Read more

The Ford Foundation’s Cybersecurity Assessment Tool (CAT) is designed to measure the maturity, resiliency, and strength of an organization’s cybersecurity efforts. We have created this questionnaire with busy nontechnical grant makers, grantee partners, civil society organizations, and nonprofits in mind, and we hope it helps shine some light on a recommended path forward for any organization undertaking a cybersecurity journey. Read more

More than ever, jobs for the disabled are vital – StarTribune: Eric Black, president and CEO of Minneapolis-based manufacturer Minnesota Diversified Industries (MDI) talks about the organizations inclusive hiring philosophy. Read more

Staffing Recruitment & Retention

12 Strategies To Reduce Employee And Volunteer Turnover At Your Nonprofit: Forbes offers strategies for keeping your greatest resource – the people who make up your organization – on board. Read more

BenefitsMN: BenefitsMN is an Association Health Plan available to nonprofits throughout the state through the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits. Learn more | Program Overview

The Changing and Constant Dynamics of Labor’ Deed Presentation: View Slides

Volunteer Engagement

Bonfire: Bonfire, the Itasca area’s online volunteer portal powered by United Way, allows nonprofit agencies and community groups to recruit, schedule, and manage volunteers. Local nonprofits and organizations can access the platform for free. To get started, create a profile for your organization and/or schedule an onboarding session with United Way.

Value of Volunteer Time Data: Independent Sector provides location-specific and historical data on the value of volunteer time, which can be used for grant and annual reporting and volunteer recognition.  Learn more

Year-end Report

Deadline: 5:00 p.m. on August 23rd, 2022

In addition to collecting quarterly updates to guide funding decisions, we also collect data each year to get an overview of the populations served and services provided through our partner programs. Unlike the quarterly reports, the data reported here will refer to either the past 12 months or your agency’s most recent completed fiscal year.

A year-end report should be completed for each of an agency’s funded programs.

Grant reporting takes place online, which enables results to be aggregated together. Note that once an agency representative has started the survey, they will not be able to save it and finish it later; the report must be completed in one session. Below, we’ve made available an outline of the report so that agencies can prepare in advance. If this request presents added stress to your organization, please call 218-259-9535 or email kimberly@uwlakes.org.

Outlines: Note that this document is not meant to be filled out and submitted, only to help you to prepare for the report in advance if you wish to do so: Download Outline

Complete Report

Community Impact Grants

Pending Fall 2022

United Way recently completed a new strategic plan and updated its funding priorities for the upcoming grant cycle. Soon, applications for funding will open as we roll out our new investment strategy.

Registered 501(c)(3) organizations operating in the Itasca area interested in applying for funding can watch this space for more information. If you would like to receive updates on Community Impact Grants and other opportunities for nonprofits, subscribe to nonprofit updates.

Emergency Food and Shelter National Board Program (EFSP)

Funding Period: Phase 39 (FY21) & Phase ARPA-R
Deadline: 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 29th, 2022
Local Board Meeting: 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 30th, 2022 | RSVP

Qualifying emergency food and shelter services run by local service agencies are urged to apply for a portion of federal funds that Itasca County has been awarded by the Department of Homeland Security Federal Emergency Management Agency (DHS/FEMA).

Funding is based upon 12-month (December 2019-November 2020) unemployment rates, the total number of unemployed, number of individuals below the poverty level, and the total population of Itasca County. Awards are appropriated annually to supplement and expand ongoing efforts to provide shelter, food, and supportive services for individuals and families who are experiencing hunger, homelessness, and an economic crisis.

A local board, facilitated by United Way of 1000 Lakes, with representatives from county government, The Salvation Army, and American Red Cross, as well as advocates for the homeless, faith-based organizations, and community partners govern how the funds will be distributed.

Under the terms of the grant from the national board, local agencies chosen to receive funds must:

• Be private, voluntary non-profits or units of government,
• Be eligible to receive Federal funds,
• Have an accounting system,
• Practice non-discrimination,
• Have demonstrated the capability to deliver emergency food and/or shelter programs,
• Have a voluntary board (if they are a private voluntary organization)

Applications are submitted online and must be received by the deadline. Note that agencies should complete a separate application for each phase (39 & ARPA-R). United Way recommends that applicants attend the meeting of the Local Emergency Food and Shelter Board, which will take place over Zoom at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 30th, 2022.

Application Period: CLOSED

Kindness Micro-grants

Funding Period: Ongoing

United Way’s Kindness Grants program aims to promote kindness by funding small-scale, community-level projects. Local organizations – including schools, civic and neighborhood associations, environmental groups, and senior centers – as well as individuals, may apply for up to $500 of funding to support volunteer and outreach projects.


Itasca Area Community Response Fund

Funding Period: CLOSED

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. Grants will be awarded to nonprofit organizations and community groups that provide direct assistance to individuals and families with financial need or demonstrable hardship resulting from the COVID-19 health and economic crisis.

Organizations interested in applying can submit an application online through the Community Foundation’s Grant Portal.  Applications for the fourth round of funding should be submitted by January 29th, 2021.

COVID-19 Response Information:  Overview  |  News Release  Grant Portal

Resource Library

United Way operates a lending library of tools and resources for area nonprofits and community organizations to use at no cost. Items available for checkout include games for events, market booth materials, and use of our conference room. View the resource list of available items and use the button below to borrow from the library.


United Way Volunteer Recognition Program

Each year, United Way recognizes outstanding community members who dedicate their personal time to improving the community in which they live. Agencies are invited to nominate an outstanding volunteer to be considered for the Volunteer of the Year Award, with nominees highlighted in April (National Volunteer Month). Nominees will also be recognized and a winner announced at United Way’s annual Community Celebration and Best of Awards.

Nomination Period: January 1st – February 28th, 2023

Agency representatives nominating volunteers should submit the online nomination form using the button below. An outline of the nomination form is available for download, as once beginning the nomination form, it cannot be saved and returned to.

Download outline: Word | PDF


2021 Nominees

ElderCircle ─ Jan & Erle Erickson
ElderCircle ─ Linda Foss
Grace House ─ Cheryl Shepherd*
Itasca County Habitat for Humanity ─ Jim Willford
Itasca ReStore ─ Scott Berg
Project Care ─ Janis Johnson

*Award winner

2020 Award Winners

Itasca County Habitat for Humanity ─ Alan Anderberg
United Way of 1000 Lakes – Mary Troumbly

2019 Award Winners

ElderCircle ─ Sherry Burcar-Flint
Grace House – Nancy Baker
Project Care – Dr. Phillip Imholte, MD
Project Care – Karen Karls

2018 Award Winners

KOOTASCA Community Action – Dee Bretti
Project Care – Suzanne Koprowski

2017 Award Winners

ElderCircle – Anne Anderson
Grace House – Kay Klingman
Habitat for Humanity – Jerry Tinquist
KOOTASCA Crisis Nursery – Vicki Andrews

2016 Award Winners

Bridges Kinship Mentoring – Bigfork Lunch Buddies (Al Gustaveson, Connie Remmers, Krini Alampi, LeeAnn Baker, Mary Ann Starnes, Sandy Lyytinen, and Sue Williams)
ElderCircle – Roberta Truempler
Grace House – Gary Heinzer
Minnesota Youth Council, Greenway High School – Baylie Norris & Hannah Erickson
Support Within Reach – Evelyn Fielding

2015 Award Winners

Advocates for Family Peace – Kole Kalisch, Sam LaDoux and Trent Klatt
Bridges Kinship Mentoring – Grace Derfler
ElderCircle – Gary Wildgrube
Grace House – Carol Kenshcaft
Itasca Youth for Christ – Dan Fiala

COVID-19 Information and Resources

United Way is actively engaged in conversations across our region to learn how we can be best support COVID-19 efforts and serve the ever-changing needs of our community.

Learn More