Brainerd, MN, Receives Grants for Essential Family and Community Services

The Initiative Foundation of Brainerd, MN, received a $140,000 grant from the CARES Act. It is now disbursing the money to 31 entities in the community. Those organizations that will receive smaller grants from the Initiative Foundation include community child care providers, school districts and organizations that offer services to youth from birth to age 8. These funds are to be spent during the COVID-19 pandemic in order to provide direct support to those who need it the most.

Three Phases of Initiative Foundation Grant Funding

The 31 organizations will receive three rounds of grant funding from the Initiative Foundation. The foundation received a total of $416,000 in CARES act funds from the Minnesota Department of Education in August. It also received monies from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief fund. The goal of the project is to support programs for young children. The programs are for children who have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes those who got sick, who live in a home where their parents or guardians lost their jobs and students who had their developmental support or education disrupted. There will be two additional rounds of funding. These will be in winter and spring of 2021.

Who Is Included in the Grants

The first grant recipients include projects for the support and training of early childhood educators and childcare providers. It also includes projects that will supply learning kits for preschool students, support and technology materials for distance learning. There was at least one grant given to each of the 14 counties that are within the service area of the Initiative Foundation.

Childcare Center Receives Funds

The operator of Precious in His Sight Child Care Center, Rachel Christiansen, will use the grant funds to support training for her staff and to complete an indoor activity area. Her center received $2,500 in funds. She hopes that it will help her provide new experiences to the children in her care. She also hopes to provide enrichment activities so that the children can develop strengths in the areas they need the most help.

Special Education Students Receive Funding

A Pierz special education classroom at Pioneer Elementary School received a $1,000 grant. It will pay for an outdoor classroom. The classroom will provide equipment that will give the students a bigger variety of learning experiences and strategies for coping with stress and anger. Specialized teacher guidance will also help the children.

Developmentally-appropriate Learning Kits for Children

Kids who are not able to learn at a school building due to the pandemic will receive developmentally-appropriate learning kits prepared by the Ogilvie Early Childhood Center. It will use its $15,000 grant to prepare the kits, which will include art, reading, math and science learning items.

Emergency Childcare Grants

Childcare centers shut down during the pandemic, leaving parents stranded with nowhere for their kids to go. First responders got the few slots available during the closures. For other workers, such as grocery store workers, mail delivery workers and others who also provide important services, they need childcare, too. The Initiative Foundation has awarded 110 emergency child care grants to child care providers located throughout central Minnesota. Those grants come from additional funds and donors, including the Innovation Fund of the Initiative Foundation and another $100,000 from the Minnesota Council on Foundations. Its Disaster Recovery Fund for Coronavirus added to the pot of money for emergency childcare services.

Additional Organizations That Received Funds

Many community organizations received funds from the Initiative Foundation. They included the Brainerd Family YMCA, Horizon Health in Pierz and Lynette K Nichols Family Daycare & Preschool in Jenkins. Most of the recipients are small businesses that lost a lot of income during the COVID-19 shutdowns. At the same time, their clients had greater needs because they lost income, too.

Why These Funds Are Important

These grant funds are designed to help the neediest members of the community. Giving children the best possible start in life through quality childcare and educational programs. These opportunities will also help parents who aren't able to afford extra learning materials for their kids to use at home. This grant program will also prevent the closures of more local businesses in the area. The organizations and community should watch for the next round of funds, as additional organizations may be able to receive some of the money if they met the application timeline and requirements.

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