SMIF seeking applications for communities grant

Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, in partnership with Region Nine Development Commission and SE MN Together, is currently accepting applications for its inclusive and equitable communities grant program, according to a press release. Nonprofit organizations, units of government or public institutions in SMIF’s 20-county region are eligible to apply. Requests of up to $20,000 will be considered.

“As organizations that are committed to southern Minnesota, we are excited to form this partnership to support inclusive and equitable initiatives in our region, which is home to people from many diverse backgrounds,” said Pam Bishop, vice president of economic development at SMIF. “This new grant will provide important resources for our communities to help all people succeed and feel welcome.”

The 18-month grant opportunity invites eligible organizations to submit ground-breaking approaches which develop at least one of the following: the creation or advancement of inclusive and equitable entrepreneurial support systems in communities of diverse backgrounds, and the creation or advancement of initiatives which increase equity and inclusion within a community.

“RNDC is pleased and honored to collaborate with SMIF and SE MN Together on this project during these challenging times,” said Nicole Griensewic, executive director at RNDC. “Improving the lives and economic resiliency of our region’s residents, regardless of background, place of residence, or work history, speaks to the core of RNDC’s mission. This collaboration will allow us to provide opportunities that align with our diversity-specific programming and our economic development goals.”

“As SE MN Together has addressed our region’s workforce issues over the past five years, we have consistently heard from our communities about the importance of concrete actions that support diversity and equity in order to attract and retain residents, businesses, and employees,” said Sheila Kiscaden, co-chair of SE MN Together. “We are very pleased to partner with SMIF and RNDC on these grants that encourage and support local efforts to promote inclusion and entrepreneurship.”

Examples of initiatives may include the creation of an entrepreneurial education program for communities of diverse backgrounds; supporting community dialogue to build inclusivity; expanding access to business resources for entrepreneurs in communities of diverse backgrounds; developing systems that advance equity in communities and reduce the racial wealth gap.

Applications are due to SMIF by Oct. 26. For the application and guidelines, visit or contact Jennifer Heien, grants coordinator, at 507-214-7040 or

Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, a donor-supported foundation, invests for economic growth in the 20 counties of south central and southeastern Minnesota. The Foundation has provided more than $121 million in grants, loans and programming within the region during the past 34 years. SMIF’s key interests include early childhood, community and economic development. To learn more about our work and mission, visit

Region Nine Development Commission takes great pride in working with and on behalf of counties, cities, townships and schools throughout South Central Minnesota. Since 1972, being a partner for progress has led to the development of programs and identification of solutions in the areas of economic development, business development, healthy communities, transportation, community development, and leveraging regional resources. To learn more, visit

Southeast Minnesota Together is a regional collaborative network of organizations and individuals developing and pursuing strategies to address our workforce shortage. SE MN Together also seeks to strengthen regional connections and build local capacity in communities across the region, which can be leveraged to address other social and economic issues affecting Southeast Minnesota. To learn more, visit