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Alexandria Public Schools receives $25,000 Blandin Foundation grant

The RCCIP process will involve a town hall event, on Tuesday, Jan. 10, at 6 p.m. at Calvary Lutheran Church.

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ALEXANDRIA — Alexandria Public Schools will use a $25,000 Blandin Foundation Leadership Boost Grant to support the Rural Child Care Innovation Program.

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,” Sonja Merrild, director of rural grantmaking at Blandin Foundation, said in a press release. “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% of philanthropic dollars and 10% 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.”

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Alexandria Public Schools was invited to submit a full application for a community planning grant.

A need for more childcare initiatives came out of the Local Government Coordination Committee and the Alexandria Public School District. The Alexandria Area YMCA is spearheading the community effort through the Rural Child Care Innovation Program. The program is being facilitated by Jackie Peters, executive director, Alexandria Area YMCA. Sandy Susag of the Alexandria School Board is the district’s representative on the core team made of 15 community members from a variety of organizations.

“We are excited to have this investment help move our work forward in Alexandria,” said Superintendent Rick Sansted in a press release. “Addressing the availability, affordability and quality of child care impacts working families and will require area organizations coming together to reach creative solutions.”

The RCCIP process will involve a town hall event, on Tuesday, Jan. 10, at 6 p.m. at Calvary Lutheran Church that will provide education on the connectivity between quality child care, rural economic development, and vibrant local communities. Findings on local child care gaps and current needs will also be shared with the public at the town hall. Working together, we will begin to develop a community solution action plan to guide long-term decision-making to increase the supply of high-quality and affordable child care.

For more on Blandin Foundation’s Rural Leadership Boost Grants, and to see other grantee projects, visit bit.ly/RuralBoostGrants .

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