In the Know column: New grant program addresses needs in Alexandria community

If you don’t work for a local nonprofit or governmental agency, you may not know about the new grant program we named Enhance Alexandria.

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By Bobbie Osterberg, Alexandria mayor

If you could address one community need right now, what would it be? How would you tackle it? What barriers stand in the way of this dream?

If you don’t work for a local nonprofit or governmental agency, you may not know about the new grant program we named Enhance Alexandria. I’m excited about this program because we’re funding innovative, meaningful projects to benefit our local community members. Any time we’re able to use local dollars to benefit our own community members, I believe it’s a win-win. Let’s back up and learn exactly where the Enhance Alexandria grant funds originated.

As you may recall, the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) invested money in Minnesota's COVID-19 response and recovery. The City of Alexandria received $1.5 million in ARPA funds. In October 2022, the City Council approved use of $600,000 in ARPA funds to be distributed via the Enhance Alexandria grant in two grant cycles in 2023.

The City Council identified key areas of focus for the use of the Enhance Alexandria grant money. These priority areas came to fruition through thoughtful research and community input. The first priority area is housing, which includes affordable housing, workforce housing and homelessness. The second priority area is art, involving public art and art that connects people in community. The final priority area, called “other,” encompasses senior citizens, childcare and student housing. Grant proposals that have a source of matching funds – meaning a partner organization invested in the project – are given priority.


We were thrilled with the large interest in the grant in round one. It’s really an honor to live in a place where organizations jump at the chance to address community needs in creative ways.

Using a thorough selection process, the City Council identified recipients. In an ideal world, we could fund them all. We were able to fund about 25% of the total dollar amount requested in round one. I’m proud that $300,000 is going directly into our community’s local organizations within the next few months.

I cannot wait to show you the projects funded through round one of the Enhance Alexandria grant. Projects include programs targeting affordable housing, volunteers engaging with our elderly community members, and professionals removing economic barriers for some of our community’s most vulnerable citizens. The leaders who are eager to undertake ambitious goals of Enhancing Alexandria right here in our own vibrant community simply blow me away. It turns out my vision of Integrity, Commitment and Engagement (I.C.E.) for the City of Alexandria is matched by many organizations in our community perpetuating these very principles.

Check out local news and Facebook in the upcoming weeks to see which organizations we are partnering with through Enhance Alexandria Round One. Perhaps you’d like to volunteer in some capacity to bring these plans into action. What a great way to contribute to solutions in a tangible way. You may also follow your favorite projects on social media to cheer them on.

And be sure to remind your favorite eligible organizations to apply for Round Two – the final round – of the Enhance Alexandria grant later this year.

So many good people are making good things happen in amazing Alexandria.

Bobbie Osterberg is the mayor of Alexandria. " In the Know" is a rotating column written by community leaders from the Douglas County area.

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