The Granite Falls Area Community Foundation – Project Impact will use a $15,000 Blandin Foundation Leadership Boost Grant for the addition of an ADA Whirl to the State-of-the-Art Playground being built in Spring of 2023.
Leadership Boost Grants were launched to encourage Minnesotans living in rural and Tribal communities to be visionary and creative as they move their communities forward after two years of snowballing challenges.
“The last two years of complex crises have taken a toll on leaders across rural Minnesota,” said Sonja Merrild, director of rural grantmaking at Blandin Foundation. “In times like this, of great challenge and opportunity, the resilience and fortitude of rural people and places shines through. Yet, we recognize the critical need for more resources to move small communities from where they are to where they want to go.”
More than 300 Letters of Interest were submitted for funding, far more than anticipated. Based on the type of requests received, Blandin Foundation opened three grant rounds for Community Planning, Capital Projects in small towns under 3,000 people, and Creative Placemaking. To better support the many strong requests, the total amount of funding available increased from $1 million to $5.5 million after Blandin Foundation’s board approved an additional $3 million in June and a $1.5 million grant was secured from Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies.
“Rural and Tribal places simply don’t get their fair share of funding and resources,” said Merrild. “When we see stats like only 5 percent of philanthropic dollars and 10 percent of federal small business loan funds go to rural, this creates resource roadblocks to future opportunity. While the leaky pipes intended to bring resources into rural communities need a complete overhaul, Leadership Boost Grants are one way we can spark energy and action toward sustainable rural futures.”
Granite Falls Area Community Foundation (GFACF) – Project Impact, was invited to submit a full application for a Capital Projects grant.
Project Impact – Phase #1 is the result of a generous donation of seed money received from the Archibald Bush Foundation. Phase #1 consists of the construction of a State-of-the-Art, ADA accessible playground. This playground will be the 8th one of its kind built in the nation (first one in Minnesota), its unique features include a 16’ tower and slide which is one of six slides total and has a 12’ catwalk and additional playground equipment. Because the playground is to be located at Rice Park, downtown Granite Falls along the Minnesota River (which borders flood plain area) this playground will also feature a poured in place rubber surface which meets ADA standards and DNR compliance.
We, as a group (GFACF) could not be more excited to see this project have so much wonderful community support. Raising $290,000 to complete the goal of $470,00 to build this playground was genuine proof of the support for our vision of this project.
How exciting that the Blandin Foundation has awarded us funds to EXPAND our project already! The addition of the ADA Whirl will be added in Spring of 2023 when the playground is built in its entirety.
This playground will be an “asset” to the Granite Falls Community offering a fun place to gather, play, reflect and explore.
For more on Blandin Foundation’s Rural Leadership Boost Grants, and to see other grantee projects, visit https://bit.ly/RuralBoostGrants.
Granite Falls Area Community Foundation, Brad Peterson - Chairperson
Alie McInerney, Senior Rural Advocacy Associate