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Looking back at 2013. Trustees and staff at the Foundation are pleased to report a strong 2013 grantmaking year. We partnered with nonprofit organizations throughout Minnesota, North Dakota and western Wisconsin, distributing $38 million in over 500 grants and program-related investments. These funds, an increase from the $36 million distributed in 2012, are helping to support work on a broad range of topics that have in common the goal of building healthy, vibrant communities.
A new Foundation publication—Evaluation Flash Cards: Embedding Evaluative Thinking in Organizational Culture—introduces and illustrates core evaluation concepts that can help organizations understand and improve the results of the prog
Beginning in early 2014, the Otto Bremer Foundation will move to receiving grant applications online via its new online portal.
“The portal will make submitting documents and staying in touch with the Foundation easier and more efficient,” said Randi Ilyse Roth, executive director of philanthropy. “Applicants have told us informally and on surveys that they would welcome the ability to submit their grant proposals online.”
With the opening of new Bremer Bank locations in La Crosse and Eau Claire, Wisconsin, the two communities join close to 80 Bremer communities in western Wisconsin, Minnesota and North Dakota. We are proud of what our support for other Bremer communities has helped them accomplish, and we hope over time to be a partner in a number of important initiatives in La Crosse and Eau Claire.
Teens, college students, parents, community leaders and others gathered on the evening of February 11 to discuss the well-being of youth in Mankato. The evening was sponsored by Youth Voice, a YWCA project to involve youth in making Greater Mankato the very best place for youth to grow up. The Otto Bremer Foundation provided funding for Youth Voice as part of a series of grants in 2011, totaling up to $1 million, to promote positive youth development in Mankato.
Periodic visits and meetings in Bremer communities help Otto Bremer Foundation trustees and staff understand community concerns and goals. In early February, Foundation trustee Charlotte Johnson and executive director Randi Ilyse Roth visited Fergus Falls. During their visit, they met with community leaders from government, education, business, grantmaking and other institutions.
“Libraries and literacy programs are gateways to opportunity, especially in rural communities,” notes Charlotte Johnson, Otto Bremer Foundation trustee. With support from the Foundation, six libraries and six literacy organizations in Greater Minnesota are participating in a program to strengthen their ability to serve their communities. The Foundation’s support is part of its commitment to help build healthy and vibrant communities in the places that are homes and neighbors to Bremer banks.
An Otto Bremer Foundation grant totaling $750,000 is helping globally recognized nonprofit Free the Children launch its programs in Minnesota. Free the Children, founded in Canada by Craig and Marc Kielburger, uses its signature programs—We Act and We Day—to inspire youth to increase their involvement in local and global issues.
We welcome La Crosse as the newest member of the Bremer family of communities. The Otto Bremer Foundation is committed to the communities that are homes and neighbors to Bremer banks—close to 80 communities across Minnesota, North Dakota and western Wisconsin that soon, with the opening of a new Bremer Bank location in 2013, include La Crosse.
Initial Foundation grantmaking in Owatonna includes three lead grants that support initiatives to strengthen the community. Grants will address disparities in income, education and health; enhance the public library; and expand access to high-quality programming for preschoolers and middle-school youth.
Grant recipients include: