Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation offers free paint for upcoming community projects

Published 8:00 pm Tuesday, February 20, 2024

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Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation is accepting applications for free paint and coating products for community mural, community welcome sign, historic structure or public art projects through its Paint the Town Grant program. This grant opportunity is available to communities with a population under 10,000 throughout SMIF’s 20-county region.

New this year is the opportunity to apply for paint for use in public art projects, including in creative placemaking initiatives which incorporate the arts to create a place-based asset in a community. Examples may include painting a piano on a public, outdoor staircase, painting board games on public picnic tables, painting a pop-up park in an alleyway downtown, or using paint on temporary or permanent art installations that enhance the vibrancy of a community.

SMIF’s Paint the Town Grant Program is designed to build community collaboration with a unique and hands-on approach. SMIF donates up to 100 gallons of paint per project, with the goal of fostering inclusion through volunteer engagement, promotion of creativity, celebration of local pride and to enhance the beauty and interest of a space.

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“Every small town has a story to tell,” said Tim Penny, SMIF president and CEO. “Whether paint is used toward a downtown mural or revitalizing a historic structure, the visual impact across the region is transformative. We are excited to be expanding the grant program this year to incorporate public art and creative placemaking initiatives.”

To be eligible, organizations must be tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organizations, units/agencies of local, state, or federal government and public schools/higher education institutions within SMIF’s region. The project must be in a community with a population of 10,000 or less. All projects must demonstrate visual impact and be accessible to the public.

Since 1997, SMIF has distributed more than 10,700 gallons of paint to 314 projects in southern Minnesota through various programs. The Paint the Town Grant program was officially launched in 2015.

Applications are due to SMIF by March 28. For more information about the grant, and to see examples of public art and creative placemaking projects, visit For questions regarding the application, contact Alissa Oeltjenbruns, vice president of philanthropy, at or 507-214-7023.