New Community Opportunity Grants Strengthen Northland

Three young men at Family Freedom Center

Significantly larger grants drive collaborative solutions

DULUTH—The Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation announced 34 new grants from the Community Opportunity Fund including two 5-year grants and 32 one-time grants–the first awarded under its new guidelines. Grants from this fund allocate $1.4 million to address critical needs and support solutions to systemic challenges found across the Northland.

The Community Opportunity Fund has been redesigned to fund larger, collaborative projects leveraging resources for upstream successes, building strong communities, and ensuring everyone thrives. Grants are divided into four categories–Opportunity, Resilience, Belonging, and Transformation. The 32 one-year grant amounts average $40,000, a significant increase in the number of large grants in the region.

“Work that makes a real difference takes time, collaboration, and resources,” Community Foundation President and CEO Shaun Floerke said. “We are committed to community thriving.”

Two transformation grants will provide up to $100,000 each year for the next 5 years:

  • Family Freedom Center to create a hub for African-heritage economic, social, and cultural excellence in Duluth’s Central Hillside. Partners include the Healthy Hillside Coalition led by Zeitgeist, First Ladies of the Hillside, LISC, and One Roof Community Housing.
  • The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa/Mashkiiziibii to grow healthy foods for the future, expanding food access and building on cultural knowledge by creating Ursula’s Farm: A Place to Learn & Connect. Partners include Savanna Institute, UW-Extension, and the Chequamegon Food Cooperative.

“This generous five-year grant signifies a shared belief in the transformative power of directly investing in communities of color,” said Jacob Bell, Executive Director of Family Freedom Center. “As an unapologetically Black organization, we are honored to steward this investment and are committed to demonstrating that direct investments into BIPOC communities yield immeasurable returns.”

“This grant will be used in the growing of healthy foods for our community, our children, and our elders,” said Robert Blanchard, Bad River Tribal Chairman/Executive Director. “Healthy foods are so important to maintaining good nutritional habits. Community members will have the chance to participate in growing and caring for the food plots and harvesting of foods as they become ready for the table, this can help bring generations together and also foster the telling of stories and passing down the oral history of our people which is so important to us.”

Grants in the focus areas of Opportunity, Resilience, and Belonging range from $25,000 to $50,000 and are significantly larger in scope. They will be used to address a spectrum of critical community needs and opportunities across the region. Examples include:

A full list of Community Opportunity grants made in this first cycle is posted on the Community Foundation website.

The Community Opportunity Fund is a permanent resource for our community, which boldly addresses the region’s needs by providing responsive and immediate support. Since 1983, through this fund alone, the Community Foundation has granted over $13 million to benefit the region.

The profound impact of funding through the Community Opportunity Fund is felt throughout northeast Minnesota, northwest Wisconsin, and the seven sovereign tribal nations in the region. By providing a significant number of $50,000 grants and adding multi-year Transformation grants, the Community Foundation is poised to make an even greater impact in the years to come.

“We have an extraordinary community of visionary nonprofit organizations in our region. While there were far more proposals submitted than were able to be funded, the dedication toward opportunity, resilience, and belonging in our communities gives me tremendous hope and gratitude,” said Community Impact Director Michelle Morris.

The next grant round from the Community Opportunity Fund is in the fall of 2024. Applications open in early August with an October 1 deadline.

For more information about funding opportunities, please visit our website or contact Morris at [email protected].