WCF awards over $78,000 in grants and relief funds


The Winona Community Foundation cycle one community grant priorities were called “mission-critical” and aimed to help nonprofits move their essential work forward at this critical time. The goundation’s Grant Committee received 23 applications by the March 1 deadline, requesting $178,294.

Kathy Peterson, Winona Community Foundation Board member shares, “The Foundation’s Grant Committee members thoroughly discuss each application, and carefully consider each other’s perspectives. It’s a difficult challenge to choose certain community needs over others. We have so many worthy organizations.”

The Foundation Board of Directors awarded seven organizations $50,050 from the Community Grant program, and three other organizations $28,630 from the COVID-19 Relief Fund.

In 1987, the Winona Community Foundation, was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and received its first gift of $2,000 that same year. Today, the Winona Community Foundation has more than $16 million in assets under management in both Foundation controlled and donor advised funds, and grants more than $1.3 million each year. In 2021, the Winona Community Foundation celebrates two major milestones for their competitive Community Grant program. The first is reaching over $100,000 in total dollars available to grant for 2021. The second is cumulative giving from the competitive community program reaching $1 million since its inception. Learn more at (www.winonacf.org)

Funds to support the Community Grant program are made possible in part through estate gifts made by Ramona L. Jezewski English and Wilmer and Beverly Larson. Community grants are also supported by individual donors and a percentage of board-designated funds including: the Thomas H. Laken Fund, the Sue and Jack Cornwell Fund, and the general trust fund of the Winona Community Foundation. Community Grant fund recipients:

Catholic Charities - $10,000 - to fund their MediAppS program, which provides individuals with emergency assistance for prescription medications. The funding will support the administration of the program because they lost critical a funding source. Prescriptions are paid by the Emergency Assistance Fund of the Winona Community Foundation.

Elder Network - $7,000 - to support an emerging need due to COVID-19 to pivot their services for the elderly who are suffering isolation and loneliness, as well as safety concerns to continue in-person programming. Monies will be used to provide tele-health access, education and mental health programs for this population.    

Family and Children’s Center - $10,000 - To support Matty’s Place, a program for children and vulnerable adults who are victims of abuse and maltreatment. As a result of shifting funding priorities of the state and federal governments due to the pandemic, this program is delivered at no cost to clients and did not receive state or federal grants to support the program in 2021.

Let’s Erase the Stigma - $3,000 - To fund a program to equip and align disadvantaged communities of color with information, tools, and the resources necessary to help restore dignity and self-respect.

Ready Set School - $5,000 - to provide approximately 80 low-income, K-12 Winona County children to school next fall with necessary school supplies and clothing, ensuring they are ready to learn.

Winona Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation - $7,500 - to support their REACH program which prepares local high school students for careers at local employers, bridging the gap between school curriculum and workforce needs.

Winona Volunteer Services - $7,550 - to improve the food shelf experience for both clients and volunteers by using shelving units instead of boxes. The shelving will reduce wait and shopping time and encourage more people to use the food shelf (who may have been dissuaded by long lines and wait times).

The Winona Community Foundation COVID-19 Relief Fund was created within weeks of the pandemic to address a need for emergency fund and assistance for individuals. The foundation partnered with program providers to distribute the funds to help our neighbors, friends, and loved ones who experienced financial hardship due to the pandemic. The need for the fund as lessened and the board has committed to distributing remaining dollars to local nonprofit organizations working to reestablish operations post pandemic. During this grant cycle, three grant requests aligned with the purpose of the funds.

COVID-19 Relief Fund recipients:

Hiawatha Valley Mental Health Center - $10,000 - to support operational costs for lodging services for individuals with severe mental illness. This program is operating at half capacity due to the pandemic and putting a financial strain on the organization. HWMHC is the only organization in Southeastern Minnesota that provides board and lodging for adults with serious and persistent mental illness.

Home & Community Options (HCO) - $10,000 - to cover unfunded needs caused by the pandemic including PPE/infection control supplies and necessary technology equipment to safely conduct services. HCO provides support and residential services to people with development disabilities.

Winona Farmer’s Market - to support on-going operations and extra costs associated with accepting SNAP/EBT for payment. During the pandemic, the farmer’s market had extra expenses to operate in a safe manor, lost vendors and vendor income due to circumstances, and had equipment stolen. Additionally, they were unable to host key fundraising events. The farmer’s market fosters a healthy community and access to local food producers.

Learn more at www.winonacf.org.


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