$22,300 in grants goes to Austin groups; SMIF gives $78,540 to area organizations

Published 8:27 am Thursday, June 1, 2017

Two Austin initiatives received grants from the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) recently.

SMIF approved six grants totaling $78,540 — $22,300 to Austin groups — to support asset-based approaches in the areas of early childhood and economic development.

“Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation was created with the idea that people are capable of finding creative solutions to problems if given resources to carry those ideas forward,” said SMIF President and CEO Tim Penny in a press release. “SMIF’s Incentive Grants are one way that we encourage people to move forward on those ideas, especially to help our youngest generation and our local economies.” 

In Austin, $20,000 went to Austin Community Growth Ventures LLC to create a workspace for innovators and entrepreneurs launching from virtual to reality. The space will also allow established businesses and startups to network, coach, mentor, teach and learn from each other, fostering meaningful connections and collaborations.

ACGV is a 501(c)(3) established by the Development Corporation of Austin and funded by The Hormel Foundation. It is tasked with helping staff at The Hormel Institute begin seeking and developing ways to take their research, ideas and patents and convert them into commercialization and entrepreneurial opportunities.

Also in Austin, $2,300 went to Austin Aspires to develop parent training in multiple languages to accompany kindergarten readiness objectives for families.

Austin Aspires is a nonprofit created by the Vision 2020 Education Leaders committee in 2014 to improve educational outcomes for all students in Austin.

Other SMIF grants:

•$20,000 to Houston County Public Health to collaborate with Houston County Public Libraries to provide social and emotional screenings and early literacy activities to child care providers in Houston County. The goal is to increase the knowledge of the child care staff and parents regarding children’s developmental milestones and how to improve early literacy skills.

•$14,740 to Northfield Healthy Community Initiative to provide nine sessions of arts-based literacy residencies at 15 family child care providers in Northfield. Through a partnership between the Northfield Early Childhood Initiative Coalition, Northfield Arts Guild, and Northfield Public Library, 125 young children, 15 providers, and 150 parents will receive literacy support.

•$12,500 to Sibley County to build on the grant Sibley County received in 2015 to unite the seven cities and seventeen townships for community and economic growth through a centralized contact person and website. The project will unify the cities and draw upon the experiences and ideas of the growing Hispanic population to map future development in Sibley County.

•$9,000 to Stewartville Economic Development Authority to encourage the creation and support of new for-profit businesses that contribute to a sustainable and diverse business climate within the City’s business/commercial districts. The program will provide business owners with education and tools to promote long-term success while filling currently vacant commercial properties in Stewartville.

Projects are expected to be completed within 12 months of the project start date. For more information on SMIF’s grant programs, contact Jennifer Heien, Grants Coordinator, at 507-455-3215 x133 or jenniferh@smifoundation.org. 

SMIF is a donor-supported foundation that invests for economic growth in the 20 counties of south central and southeastern Minnesota. The Foundation has provided more than $100 million in grants, loans and programming within the region during the past 30 years. SMIF’s key interests include early childhood, community and economic development. 

To learn more about our work and mission, visit www.smifoundation.org.