Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation providing COVID-19 relief to small communities

Several Southeast Minnesota cities and programs benefiting from funding.

Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation logo SMIF

Several towns throughout Southeast Minnesota are getting COVID-19 response help from the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation.

The foundation recently approved 22 grants through its Small Town Grant: COVID-19 Response program totaling $192,500 to support towns of 10,000 or less throughout its 20-county region.

“We are honored to be able to support the most immediate needs of some of our smallest communities during this health and economic crisis,” said Tim Penny, the foundation’s president and CEO. “We hope this funding will have a lasting impact in these towns, long after the pandemic is over.”

The Small Town Grant program was launched in 2017 to support smaller communities which often lack sufficient financial resources to help them grow and address challenges. Since then, the foundation has supported 43 towns, and a variety of initiatives, through the grant.

This year, foundation officials said the grant program was focused on responding to the needs that have emerged or increased as a result of the pandemic. Funding requests addressed issues including technology needs for equitable distance learning, support for food shelves due to increased demand and programs that assist businesses experiencing financial hardship.


The 2020 Small Town Grant: COVID-19 Response award recipients include:

  • $5,000 to Cannon Falls Economic Development Authority for a marketing campaign to increase tourism.
  • $7,500 to Dodge County Faith in Action to hire additional support for services for elderly clients including transportation for medical appointments, housekeeping chores and more.
  • $10,000 to Fillmore Central School District in Fillmore County for essential technology to provide quality and equitable instruction for students during distance learning.
  • $10,000 to Hayfield Economic Development Authority for a program to reimburse businesses for unexpected expenses such as Personal Protective Equipment and additional cleaning supplies.
  • $10,000 to Hometown Resource Center in St. Charles to support an expansion of the food shelf to accommodate an increase in demand.
  • $10,000 to Kasson-Mantorville Schools for a tutoring and family support program to assist young children with school work as they adjust to distance learning, and to assist with staffing needs by providing tutors or teachers in child care centers and preschool programs.
  • $10,000 to Lanesboro Economic Development Authority for a program to reimburse businesses for unexpected expenses such as Personal Protective Equipment and additional cleaning supplies.
  • $5,000 to the City of Mantorville for a marketing campaign to bring visitors to the area.
  • $10,000 to the City of Pine Island for a tent to provide sheltered outdoor seating for local bars and restaurants in order to comply with state guidelines.
  • $10,000 to Plainview Public Library to create a volunteer league which will connect community members by building a roster of their skills, talents and interests in order to combat isolation brought on by social distancing.
  • $10,000 to Wabasha Area Food Shelf to support moving into a new space which will help them meet an increase in demand.

The grants are made possible with support from the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation Fund at the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation.

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