NORTHWEST AREA FOUNDATION AWARDS $2.5 MILLION IN FIRST-QUARTER GRANTS

“I appreciate all your program does to help (people)…get out of the welfare system,” said one member of the Prosperity Club. Another member of this program offered by Rural Dynamics Inc. (RDI) added, “I now know I can be financially stable and succeed in life.”

Northwest Area Foundation’s grant of $207,000 to RDI of Great Falls, Mont., is among $2.5 million in awards it announced in the first quarter of 2012 to build financial security, improve public policy and strengthen leadership. Funding will bolster RDI’s Family Economic Security Program and several other asset-building services in rural and reservation communities in Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota:

• Tax Help Montana, a coalition of community partners working to provide no-cost tax preparation and access to financial services
• Mobilizing Rural Communities, which provides training on policy issues, program developments, and professional skill building
• Building Economic Strength Together (BEST), a coalition to improve asset- and wealth-building policies in Montana

Grant dollars will also support the creation of a new community development financial institution, RDI Financial, which will increase access to capital for low-income businesses.

“These multi-faceted strategies for building assets show great promise for making prosperity a reality for all low-income families,” said Kevin Walker, president and CEO of the Northwest Area Foundation. “We are pleased that Rural Dynamics will be sharing its successful asset-building models at the national Grassroots & Groundwork conference the Foundation is hosting this June in Minneapolis.”

Additional grants the Foundation made to increase assets and wealth include:
 Latino Economic Development Center of Minneapolis, Minn., received $250,000 in a two-year grant for the Minnesota Rural Farming and Agricultural Latino Co-op Initiative. Funding will establish training, lending, networking, and incubator programs in rural communities. The grant will also support organizational development.
 Main Street Project of Minneapolis, Minn., received $250,000 in a two-year grant for the Rural Enterprise Center Program, which helps low-income entrepreneurs establish small-scale farming operations through poultry production and community gardens.
• Mountain States Group (MSG) of Boise, Idaho, received $125,000 for the Growing Green Businesses initiative to foster green enterprise development and expansion among disadvantaged entrepreneurs, women, minorities, and refugees. Grant dollars will go to the MicroEnterprise Training and Assistance (META), a direct program of MSG, which operates Growing Green Businesses.
• National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders (NALCAB) of San Antonio, Texas, received $500,000 for a two-year grant to expand regional partnerships in leadership development and small business strategies. NALCAB will provide business training, professional development, and access to grants that strengthen asset-building organizations.
• Summit Academy OIC of Minneapolis, Minn., received $95,000 to create training and placement for low-income workers seeking green jobs in St. Paul and on the Leech Lake Reservation.

The Foundation’s grants to improve public policy include: 
• Consensus Council Inc. of Bismarck, N.D., received $175,000 in a two-year grant to advance the work of the North Dakota Economic Security & Prosperity Alliance (NDESPA), a statewide coalition that advocates for policies that reduce poverty and build prosperity
• Four Bands Community Fund Inc. of Eagle Butte, S.D., received $25,000 to advocate for policies that would strengthen Native community development financial institutions.
• Iowa Policy Project of Iowa City, Iowa, received $25,000 to support the Coalition for a Better Iowa, which is working to build a strong state revenue system to bolster education, health, and human services.
• Minnesota Council of Nonprofits of St. Paul, Minn., received $75,000 for efforts to engage racial justice advocates in tax and budget analysis and to protect anti-poverty programs from state budget cuts.
• Oregon Center for Public Policy of Silverton, Ore., received $50,000 to build the strength and ability of anti-poverty groups to engage in policy debates over raising additional state revenue.

The Foundation made the following grant to strengthen leadership:
• Native Youth Leadership Alliance (NYLA)* of Pine Ridge, S.D., received $175,000 in a two-year grant to support the NYLA Fellowship program which provides inter-generational and collaborative leadership training for Native college students to achieve their goals for community development.

For a detailed list of Northwest Area Foundation’s first quarter grants, visit http://www.nwaf.org/content/firstqgrants12.

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The Northwest Area Foundation is dedicated to supporting efforts by people, organizations and communities to reduce poverty and achieve sustainable prosperity. The Foundation’s service region includes urban, rural and American Indian reservation communities in Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon. The Great Northern Railway, founded by James J. Hill, served these states. Hill’s son, Louis W. Hill, established the Foundation in 1934. For more information, please visit http://www.nwaf.org.

For more on grants and grant writing, visit Grant Pros.

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