Weather Forecast


Vote on funding bill fails in Senate, virtually assuring government shutdown

Willmar, Minn., community foundation has significant grants for priority needs

WILLMAR — The Willmar Area Community Foundation is casting a wide net for grant applications from local nonprofits focusing on older adults, youths, diversity or the arts.

Buoyed by a recent $6 million gift, the foundation now has significantly more grant funds to award, said John Lindstrom, chairman of the board.

“I just want to encourage area nonprofits to put together an application, let us take a look at it and see where it fits,” he said. “We’re pretty much open to all different kinds of applications.”

Nonprofits have a chance right now to seek funding. Applications will be taken until Feb. 15 for the foundation’s first grant-making cycle of 2013.

Altogether, the Willmar Area Community Foundation expects to give between $200,000 and $300,000 in grants this year, Lindstrom said.

The foundation had assets of around $6 million and had been awarding $35,000 to $60,000 in grants each year to area nonprofits.

Then a large gift in 2012, from the estate of Joe and Alice Cox, doubled the foundation’s fund base and boosted its capacity to make grants.

“We will be able to give significantly more,” Lindstrom said.

Board members wanted to be deliberate and thoughtful with the money, so this past year they brought in a consultant who worked with Wilder Research of St. Paul to conduct a needs assessment.

The report, which was completed late last year, zeroed in on many of Kandiyohi County’s most pressing needs and reinforced the Willmar Area Community Foundation’s funding priorities.

Among the findings:

- The county’s population is aging. By 2030, one in four county residents will be over age 65, according to projections.

- More children live in poverty. Since 2000, the number of Kandiyohi County children living in poverty rose from 11 percent to more than 18 percent.

- Half of households in Kandiyohi County earn less than $50,000 a year.

- Most of the population growth in Kandiyohi County is occurring among people of color, who also are younger on average than the county’s white population and account for 33 percent of students enrolled in the New London-Spicer and Willmar school districts.

- There’s an achievement gap between white students and students of color. Students of color score less well in reading and math standardized tests and are less likely to graduate.

Many of these issues encompass health care and human services as well as education and programs that specifically serve children or older adults, Lindstrom said.

The report concludes that many opportunities exist to engage older adults in the community, connect older and younger generations through volunteerism or encore careers, and help the county’s minority population achieve educational and economic success.

The Willmar Area Community Foundation hopes to be a catalyst by offering grants to nonprofits that can help, Lindstrom said.

“People are working on it but dollars always seem to be an issue,” he said. “We can’t provide it all but maybe we can provide some.”

Letters and a copy of the Wilder Research report are being sent to nonprofit organizations in the area to let them know grants are available, Lindstrom said.

The foundation board is looking for proposals that meet one or more of the needs listed among the priorities. Applicants also should be able to demonstrate that their goals are both realistic and measurable.

Applications can be filled out online at

Applications will be reviewed by the grants committee of the Willmar Area Community Foundation. Awards will be announced in May or June. The deadline for the second grant cycle of the year is in August.

Anne Polta

Anne Polta covers health care, business/economic development and general assignment. Her HealthBeat blog can be found at Follow her on Twitter at @AnnePolta.

(320) 235-1150