Three Alexandria organizations each received $5,000 recently to improve the community. Given by the Fergus Falls-based West Central Initiative, the Community Change Makers Grant awards recognize groups that want to make positive changes.

The awards went to:

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• The Inclusion Network of Alexandria Technical & Community College for eight diversity trainers who can communicate the benefits of a diverse and inclusive community and respond to a growing number of requests for that information. The network will work with businesses, agencies and health care facilities, among other groups, to offer more training options.

• The Early Education Center though Alexandria Community Education, to partially fund year-round outdoor equipment and play structures available to communities throughout the region during non-school hours. Studies show that outdoor play is critical for child development.

• C3 - Community Caring for Caregivers for a series of talks about post-traumatic stress and compassion fatigue affecting caregivers. The grant will help raise awareness and resources for these topics as community health issues, and help develop mental health support systems for caregivers, their families and employees.

"Our goal with the Community Change Makers Grant program has been to help communities arrive at their own solutions," said West Central Initiative President Anna Wasescha. "In this round of awards, we can see our nine-county region through the eyes of individuals and groups who know and love their communities and, by working together, have summoned the creative energy to make those places better places to live and work."

West Central Initiative is a regional community foundation serving nine west-central Minnesota counties, including Douglas. It awarded nearly $120,000 in this latest Community Change Makers grant round.