Rice County Area United Way Awards $280,000 in Grants
Rice County Area United Way has awarded $280,000 in grants to 27 nonprofit and school-sponsored programs that address the greatest needs in our community in the areas of health, education and financial security.
The year’s theme was “Now More Than Ever,” and donors took that message to heart. Despite a disrupted fundraising season in which some companies furloughed employees and many past donors were not in a position to give, many community members stepped up to meet extraordinary needs.
For example, after the Faribault Food Shelf closed last year, United Way agencies collaborated to provide access to nutritional foods through mobile food deliveries, including driving food to people’s homes. Donors supported the effort, even as food needs grew to four times that of past years. In addition, housing needs eclipsed those of any prior year. One reason is that the pandemic meant people without homes could not shelter with family or friends, said Rice County Area United Way Executive Director Elizabeth Child.
“Our campaign results this year exceeded our hopes and expectations,” Child said. “In a time of such uncertainty, we anticipated we might need to make significant cuts this year. It is a pleasure to find that, instead, we have more to grant this year than last.” This year’s grant awards total $40,000 more than last year’s.
Rice County Area United Way also expects to invest approximately $30,000 in 2021-2022 promoting early childhood literacy as the local sponsor of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, sending free, age-appropriate books each month to more than 1,000 Rice County area children from infancy to age five.
How Grants Were Determined
The grant-making process was advised by 17 community donor-volunteers from Faribault, Northfield and Lonsdale who reviewed applications and provided guidance on funding priorities. Seven local financial professionals also donated their time and expertise to conduct financial reviews of the organizations applying for grants.
This year’s grant recipients are described below. Note that several funded organizations are doing work that fits in more than one category. Grants are awarded for the period July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022.
FINANCIAL STABILITY– $168,800 awarded
- Community Action Center, supporting the basic needs of families throughout the Northfield community and expanding this year into Faribault with. The CAC served 4,200 individuals last year and demand for its services has grown rapidly during the pandemic.
- HOPE Center, an advocacy agency providing direct services for victims of domestic and sexual violence in Rice County, collaborative support to other organizations serving victims, and educational support to the community.
- KCQ, Inc., funded for a Supported Employment Program providing services for Rice County individuals with disabilities to enable them to obtain employment and maximize their vocational potential for integration in the community.
- Northfield Union of Youth, connecting youth to each other, caring adults and the community, with a focus on providing a safe and nurturing space and services for Northfield’s most at-risk and disenfranchised youth.
- Rice County Habitat for Humanity, partnering with volunteers, donors and people in need towards a vision where everyone has a decent place to live; funded Habitat’s Aging in Place program to help those with income levels below 80 percent of the area median.
- Ruth’s House, an emergency and transitional shelter with supportive services for women and children in the Rice County area facing homelessness due to traumatic life circumstances, and helping families work toward stability and self-sufficiency.
- Semcac Senior Nutrition Program, serving well-balanced, low-cost noon meals, normally in a congregate setting but currently packed for takeout, to people age 60+, Monday through Friday in Faribault and Northfield.
- Society of St. Vincent de Paul, a volunteer-run organization in Faribault providing free food, clothing, furniture, ESL class and financial assistance to people in the Rice County area.
- Somali Community Resettlement Services: assists new immigrants/refugees to acclimate into American society as quickly as possible – connecting over 300 families to schools, the health system and employment.
- Three Rivers Community Action, for its home-delivered meals program in Faribault, and advocacy for older adults and caregiver support services for Rice County residents.
EDUCATION – $56,900 awarded
- Northfield Community College Collaborative, striving to provide an accessible and supported environment for students to pursue their post-secondary education in Northfield.
- Faribault Adult Education, providing adults with opportunities to acquire and improve the literacy skills needed to become self-sufficient and to participate effectively as productive workers, family members and citizens.
- Faribault ECFE (Early Childhood Family Education) offering classes that provide enriching experiences and educational materials to enhance parent/child interaction and learning.
- Faribault Youth Investment, working to ensure that all of Faribault’s young people thrive, and positively impacting youth outcomes through community collaboration.
- PRIMEtime, providing after school and summer enrichment to over 850 Northfield children in grades K-8.
- Project ABLE, providing social, recreational and educational opportunities for adults with disabilities in Rice County and surrounding areas; a collaboration between the Community Education departments of Faribault Public Schools and Northfield Public Schools.
- Project Friendship, matching Northfield-area children in grades 2-7 with mentors from St. Olaf or Carleton College.
- Serve Minnesota’s Reading Corps, to support AmeriCorps volunteers in several area schools who apply the science of how children learn to read to help struggling K-3 students become confident readers.
- Supply Our Children, aiming to eliminate the financial burden of purchasing school supplies for Faribault’s struggling families by giving Faribault’s youth the supplies they need.
- TORCH, providing academic assistance, college and career advising, and social-emotional support to over 600 Northfield Public Schools students and graduates who identify as low-income, first-generation and/or students of color.
- Tri-City United Schools, for scholarships to provide more families with the opportunity to send their children ages 3+ to TCU’s Little Titans school readiness program.
HEALTH – $53,500 awarded
- Student Support Services Division, Northfield Public Schools, addressing the social and emotional well-being of students with chemical and mental health services provided by Omada Behavioral Health to students and their families.
- Exchange Club Center for Family Unity, a child abuse prevention agency providing supportive and educational in-home services to Rice County families at risk of child abuse and neglect, though a parent mentoring program.
- Growing Up Healthy, enhancing community connectedness and developing leadership among low-income, immigrant and refugee neighborhoods in Rice County.
- HealthFinders Collaborative, a community health center providing comprehensive health and wellness services on a sliding fee scale to marginalized families in Rice County and engaging communities in their own health.
- IRIS (Infants Remembered in Silence), helping bereaved parents, family, friends and professionals cope with the loss of a child, in Rice County and beyond.
- Northfield Healthy Community Initiative, serving as a backbone organization for youth and family efforts in Northfield and striving to identify needs for youth and families in the community, build coalitions to develop and run programs, and write and manage large collaborative grants to bring additional resources into the community.
Additional funding supported nonprofit agencies designated by our donors.
About Rice County Area United Way
Rice County Area United Way fights for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in our community. Living United, we mobilize the resources and caring power of individuals, organizations and networks to strengthen the community. Donations stay local, improving the lives of people who live and work in the Rice County area.