SMIF awards $206,000 in Small Town Grants

Published 4:32 pm Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Blooming Prairie child receives $10K

Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) recently approved 23 grants totaling $206,000 to support small towns of 10,000 or less in SMIF’s 20-county region.

The Small Town Grant program was launched in 2017 to support smaller communities which can benefit from additional financial resources to help them grow and address challenges. The recent approval of 23 grants has pushed the total of Small Town Grants awarded beyond 100 for a total of 113 projects since the program began. Through this program, SMIF has invested a total of $972,490 in the small towns of our region.

Among those receiving funds is the Leo Augusta Children’s Center, which received $10,000. The money will be used for equipment that would turn its gymnasium into a community space.

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Also granted $10,000 was the Good Earth Village in Spring Valley for educational materials to help the community and visitors learn about the species that can be found on the 477-acre property.

“This grant gives our smallest towns the financial support they need to do things that can make a huge difference for the people living there,” said Tim Penny, president and CEO of SMIF. “We are once again grateful to Paul Johnson’s family for continuing his legacy and giving SMIF an opportunity to leverage additional funding for small town support. Without them, we would not have been able to reach this milestone so soon.”

The Small Town Grant program is supported, in part, by a generous donation in memory of Paul O. Johnson who wanted southern Minnesota’s smallest communities to thrive. Paul’s legacy is being continued by his family, Amy De Jong, Paula Rehder and Scott Johnson.

“We are pleased and honored to be able to continue our father’s legacy by supporting small towns in the region of Minnesota where we were raised,” said Paula Rehder. “We are seeing the potential of his gift realized through the amazing projects that these small communities have proposed that will make a difference in the part of the country that was near and dear to our father’s heart,” said Amy De Jong.

For more information about the Small Town Grant Program, contact Andi Arnold at or 507-214-7029.