AAF offering grants

Published 4:09 pm Wednesday, August 25, 2021

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The Austin Area Foundation is accepting grant requests through Sept. 1 for projects that support community needs and opportunities. Nonprofits based in Austin can apply by mail to AAF or online via the foundation’s website for grants that typically range from $500 to $2,000. 

Last year, AAF awarded $25,055 overall for 18 projects in the Austin community, bringing its total giving to more than $220,000 since its inception in 2003. This year, AAF expects to award between $25,000 and $30,000 in grants to deserving, Austin-based nonprofit organizations for projects that benefit residents of the Austin community, AAF executive director Steve Barrett said.

“Our grants are given to make an impact on the community,” Barrett said. “They affect people who live here through the work of local nonprofits, community groups and committed citizens.”

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Grants are awarded through AAF’s Austin Legacy Endowment Fund, which is restricted to Austin-based organizations that are operated for charitable, educational or scientific purposes. In the past five years, AAF has awarded between $22,000 and $29,000 per year in community grants. 

AAF, which does not fund multi-year projects, has an 18-member board of directors that reviews all grant applications and selects the funding recipients each year, board president Taggert Medgaarden said.

“We’re likely going to have difficult decisions to make this year,” Medgaarden said. “With the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the foundation expects to get more requests than we have funding for in the coming year but we still want to see the needs of the community.” 

In 2020, AAF awarded grants that supported a variety of community projects, including children’s studio art classes, the Austin Symphony Orchestra, one-to-one tutoring for children of low-income families, a canoe-kayak access on Turtle Creek, Hot Meals on Wheels for elderly or people with disabilities, and the Salvation Army’s Feed a Family at Christmas. 

A 501(c)(3) nonprofit, AAF builds charitable funds that support the community. With most of the foundation’s funds kept in permanent endowments, it ensures forever funding support for the good of Austin, Medgaarden said. 

“Austin Area Foundation continues to play a growing, key role in addressing the Austin community’s needs and opportunities while helping to make charitable giving as effective as possible,” Medgaarden said. 

In January, AAF established a second endowment fund to eventually use for awarding grants to organizations in the rest of Mower County and the surrounding areas, Barrett said. This fund – the Greater Austin Area and Mower County Endowment Fund – will not award grants until it reaches a value of $25,000.

Austin-based groups can submit applications via mail at Austin Area Foundation, P.O. Box 6, Austin, MN, 55912, or online at:  www.austinareafoundation.org. 

For more information, contact AAF executive director Steve Barrett at 507-434-7494 or via email at director@austinareafoundation.org