WILLMAR -- A "Give-to-the-Kids" matching grant challenge by the Otto Bremer Foundation helped net top money for two local organizations to support programs that benefit young people.
The United Way of West Central Minnesota and West Central Youth For Christ each managed to raise the entire match of $6,000. Combined with matching funds from the Bremer Foundation, it meant both organizations received a total of $12,000 apiece.
"It's awesome," said Stacey Roberts, executive director of the United Way of West Central Minnesota. "It's always nice to get a grant that you don't have to apply for."
Altogether, the Bremer Foundation raised $402,603 during its week-long Give-to-the-Kids challenge, during which supporters could donate money through an online giving portal at GiveMN.org. The one-to-one matching grants were awarded to 50 nonprofits in Greater Minnesota that serve youths.
They include the Kandiyohi County Area Family YMCA, United Way of West Central Minnesota, West Central Industries, West Central Minnesota Youth for Christ and the Harmony Visitation Center.
More than 290 donors participated in the online giving challenge.
Roberts said the United Way of West Central Minnesota will designate its grant money to the Imagination Library and the Growmobile. The two programs help promote school readiness among the youngest children.
The region is fortunate to have ties with the Otto Bremer Foundation through the Bremer Bank in Willmar, Roberts said. "They're great supporters of programs across the community."
West Central Youth for Christ will use the money for a pair of special events this fall, said Bob Poe, the organization's executive director.
Part of the grant will help fund 13 public-school assemblies to be held in the area next week, he said.
The rest has been designated for a retreat next month at the Decision Hills Bible camp for 50 youths.
The majority of these youngsters have never been to camp before, Poe said. "This will be a nice camp experience for them."
Friends of Youth for Christ stepped up to the plate when the matching grant opportunity became available, he said. "We were able to make the whole match. We approached some donors who care about what we're doing and value what we do."
Both the United Way and Youth for Christ were among the top 10 organizations that raised the most money through the online campaign.
The Otto Bremer Foundation focuses on economic, civic and social participation and the betterment of communities. Last year the foundation provided $23.5 million in grants and program-related investments.