Delano is one of four cities selected to Initiative Foundation leadership program
By Ryan Gueningsman
DELANO A group of Delano residents learned last week their efforts were successful in obtaining a development grant from the Initiative Foundation.
As part of the grant program, Delano is eligible to receive an initial grant of up to $10,000 for planning, and then will be eligible for an additional grant of up to $10,000 per year for implementation of community projects over the following four years.
A $100,000 Bush Foundation grant recently awarded to the Initiative Foundation of Little Falls will go toward assisting Delano and three other cities as they rally residents to improve their community and local economy.
The grant will fund the foundation’s newly-enhanced Healthy Communities Partnership (HCP) program, which helps engage citizen teams in planning, implementation, and leadership efforts.
Representatives from Delano, including Harlan Lewis, Sam Nelson, Carley Boll, and Betsy Stolfa, attended a meeting in Little Falls to learn more about the Initiative Foundation and the grant process, and submitted the grant application. Thirty people met Jan. 21 at the Three Crows to lay the ground-work for the grant.
“With everything going on in the community relating to Highway 12, it’s a nice time to put Delano back on the map,” Lewis said. “This will help us look at what makes Delano, Delano, with the hope of generating something as a destination. How do we promote growth in Delano and create jobs?”
Lewis said the goal is to bring in a wide range of area residents and business owners in a grass roots effort who may be able to answer those questions and move forward.
Beginning this month, Initiative Foundation staff will help community teams study local economic, social, and environmental trends. Each community will then use the information and citizen input to create a plan to increase living-wage jobs and enhance business recruitment and retention efforts.
Along with Delano, other communities chosen for the 2009-10 program include Long Prairie, Pine River, and Royalton.
“The communities were chosen based on economic need, strong volunteer commitment from residents, and the willingness of their local government to work with citizens in creating a more sustainable future,” said Dan Frank, the Initiative Foundation’s program manager for community development.
At a recent Delano City Council meeting, action was taken affirming the city’s support of the grant application.
A HCP kick-off celebration dinner will take place Wednesday, March 11 at the Delano High School cafeteria from 6 to 7 p.m. The dinner, sponsored by the Initiative Foundation, is open to anyone interested in finding out more information about the grant and opportunities available with it.
“We wanted to let people know they have the opportunity to voice their opinions in how they’d like to see Delano grow,” Lewis said.
If interested in attending the dinner, RSVP to Debbie DeBeer by Sunday, March 8 by calling (763) 675-3673.
Timeline for the grant
The timeline will include local monthly meetings, as well as Initiative Foundation training sessions that 15 people will have to commit to, and the visioning meeting and planning sessions:
Training for core group will be from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Little Falls Thursdays, March 19, April 16, and Aug. 6.
• June/July - Community visioning meeting in Delano
• July/August - Community goal setting in Delano
• September - Action planning meeting in Delano
• September 2010 - Annual community meeting in Delano
Not the first time Delano has received such a grant
In 2000, the “Delano Dream Team” hosted a similar community visioning session that identified three top initiatives of the community to expand Common Grounds’ youth outreach program, the beautification of downtown, and improved visability and accessibility of area parks and green space.
Projects that came from the Dream Team include the annual river clean-up, the city’s adopt-a-pot program, Paint the Town, and a Sunday brunch community fundraiser, among other things.
The newly-awarded grant will provide an opportunity to bring people together and focus on common goals as was done in 2000, commented Delano resident Dale Vander Linden, who is involved with the grant.
“The purpose of the grant is to develop the framework needed to ascertain the priority of projects that the community desires,” Vander Linden said. “The grant proceeds are not for any particular capital projects, but for conceptualization of the needs.”
About the Initiative Foundation
Based in Little Falls and serving central Minnesota’s 14 counties, the Initiative Foundation offers loans to businesses, grants to non-profits, and a variety of leadership programs that enable citizens to build stronger communities.
Through its leadership programs, the foundation has provided training to 4,262 community leaders, representing over 420 community groups and organizations, since 1986.
The Bush Foundation, which is providing the funds for the Initiative Foundation’s Healthy Communities Partnership (HCP) was established in 1953 by 3M executive, Archibald Bush, and his wife, Edyth.
The foundation strives to be a catalyst to shape vibrant communities in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota by investing in courageous and effective leadership that significantly strengthens and improves the well-being of people in these three states.
“We’re thrilled to receive continued support from the Bush Foundation,” Frank said. “These teams will now be able to make some huge strides toward building a better future for their communities.”
HCP grant kick off celebration dinner Wed., March 11
A Healthy Communities Partnership kick-off celebration dinner is set to take place Wednesday, March 11 at the Delano High School cafeteria from 6 to 7 p.m. The dinner, compliments of the Initiative Foundation, is open to residents of the Delano area interested in improving the area.
RSVP by Sunday, March 8 to Debbie DeBeer by calling (763) 675-3673.