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.

Emergency Food and Shelter National Board Program (EFSP)

Funding Period: Phase 41
Deadline: 4 p.m. April 16, 2024
Local Board Meeting: 1 p.m. on April 18, 2024
Location: United Way of 1000 Lakes, 350 NW 1st Ave., Ste A, Grand Rapids, MN 55744

Qualifying emergency food and shelter services run by local service agencies are urged to apply for a portion of $23,521 in 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 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. United Way recommends that applicants attend the meeting of the Local Emergency Food and Shelter Board.


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.


2024 Community Impact Grants

RELEASE DATE: January 16, 2024

Funding Pillar Areas: Family Financial Stability & Healthy Minds & Bodies

Application Period:
Initial proposals due: January 31, 2024
Full proposals due (by invitation): February 29, 2024

Virtual Information Session: January 23 at 9 a.m.


United Way of 1000 Lakes strives to create a thriving Itasca-area community where children, individuals, and families can realize their full potential. We work collaboratively with partners from many organizations and walks of life to create systems change and solutions that elevate our community more than any single program or organization could.

We invest in programs that positively impact our community through our new Safety Net and Upward Mobility (Ready Kids, Resilient Families; Family Financial Stability; Healthy Minds & Bodies) framework that centers a two-generation approach.

Visit our Community Impact Grants page to determine if our program align with your organization’s work.

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.

Learn More

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 – March 8th, 2024 (newly extended deadline)

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


2022 Nominees

Essentia Health - Geneva Francisco
Grand Rapids Area Library - Ellen Teigland
Grace House ─ Gwenn Smith*
Second Harvest North Central Food Bank ─ Greg Frazier

*Award winner

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

Resource Round-Up

Discussions with partners illuminate issues 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.

2-Gen Approach

2-Gen Approach: The Aspen Institute’s policy program and national hub for collaborations, Ascend, is a valuable resource for understanding, implementing and evaluating the 2-Generation Approach. Visit The Aspen Institute’s site.

2Gen Peer Learning Cohort: At United Way of 1000 Lakes, we lead a network of local organizations that apply a whole-family approach to ensure that the benefit of a program intervention is sustainable across generations. Learn more

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

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

2023 Annual Conference – making Waves and Breaking Barriers: September 20-21 |  Duluth   |  $289-$339
For the first time since 2016, the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits will be bringing our Annual Conference to Northeast Minnesota. This year’s conference theme is Making Waves & Breaking Barriers — a reference to water and action. Water connects us to our physical place (Lake Superior/Gichigami) and each other, moves continuously, and sustains us. Nonprofits, when doing their best work, are breaking and removing barriers through advocacy and systems change. Join hundreds of nonprofit staff, board members, volunteers, and allies as we take part in two days of learning, community, recharging, and celebration of YOU, Minnesota’s amazing nonprofits. Learn more

Fundamentals of Nonprofit Finance: October 10th |  9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.  |  Online Webinar   |  $75
This training is designed to make you more comfortable with nonprofit finance. Propel Nonprofits will walk through nonprofit financial reports including the statement of activities (income statement) and statement of financial position (balance sheet). Attendees will gain an understanding of nonprofit finance terminology, accounting rules, roles and responsibilities, and procedures and policies. This workshop is right for you if you are new to the nonprofit sector, nonprofit finance, or your position as staff or board member. Register

Empowering Effective Nonprofit Board Decision Making: October 26th |  12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. |  Online Workshop   |  Free
In this webinar, Propel Nonprofits will provide practical insight and share strategies for impactful decision-making processes. The webinar will highlight ways to foster collaboration and create engagement among board members in order to harness the collective wisdom of the board and make informed and impactful decisions that advance your mission. 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


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

Volunteer Coordinators Network (VCN): Facilitated by United Way of 1000 Lakes, the VCN is a network of local volunteer professionals across the Itasca County area who are involved in volunteers’ recruitment, retention, and leadership. Membership is free, with each member taking an active role in strengthening the network. Lean more

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.


Nonprofit Updates

Nonprofit News

Join our mailing list to receive monthly newsletters about resources and opportunities for nonprofits and community organizations in the Itasca area.

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