Owatonna Foundation Reaches a Million Dollars in Donations for 2020

In a year that has been fraught with a pandemic, health, social, personal and business challenges the Owatonna Foundation reached an amazing, and to date, first milestone of reaching a million dollars in donated funds in 2020.


“In January we had an anonymous donation of $500,000 which gave us a huge head start to our 2020 fundraising campaign. That donation, along with the incredible generosity of our community, has helped us to raise $1,057,763.00 dollars this past year.” said Foundation Executive Director, Laura Resler.


In March, in response to the onset of the pandemic, Foundation Trustees authorized $20,000 in humanitarian aid which was distributed to Community Pathways and SEMCAC. While this donation was outside of the Foundation’s normal scope of capital projects, the Trustees felt that unprecedented times called for unprecedented action. The 2020 grant applications the Foundation received also reflected the times we are living in with many requests for necessities rather than the amenities typically asked for.

Grants awarded in 2020 were:

  • Owatonna Fire Department: $12,500 for PPE storage

  • Steele County Master Gardeners: $8,700 for a storage shed and tiller

  • Hospitality House: $18,751 for new windows and a door

  • City of Owatonna: $25,500 towards restoration of the Central Park Fountain and an additional drinking fountain

  • Owatonna Arts Center: $5,000 towards floor repairs

  • Lets’ Smile: $25,000 towards the purchase of a “Molar Roller” van for dental visits to schools and other sites

  • We All Play Project: $33,208 towards playground equipment

  • Steele County Free Clinic: $15,248 towards pediatric dental equipment




Grants awarded annually by the Foundation are a true reflection of our community’s needs and desires. Local 501C3 non-profits with capital (bricks and mortar) projects may apply for funding twice a year in May and September. A spending policy annually determines the funds available for grants and each year the Foundation sees greater needs emerging. These emerging needs were the impetus behind the Foundation’s current fundraising goal of raising three million dollars in three years (3 in 3 by 2023) so that Foundation assets would reach 10 million dollars which would annually provide almost $500,000.00 for funding grants. The funds raised in 2020 are a giant step towards attaining this goal. “There are truly no words to express our sincere gratitude and appreciation to everyone who has contributed to the Owatonna Foundation in 2020. We are humbled by the support and trust that the community has in us. As Trustees we are very conscious of the responsibility that we have to our donors and our community. Our hearts go out to everyone in Owatonna, and everywhere else, that have been adversely affected by the pandemic this past year. Despite the hardships faced by many, we were overwhelmed by the amazing support we received. Many of our donors even increased their donations this year. We are looking forward to the successful completion of the 3 in 3 by 2023 campaign so that we can offer even more funding for worthy, and needed, projects in Owatonna. The Owatonna Foundation is truly your community foundation and we are proud to be a part of making Owatonna a better community for all of us.” said Denny Meillier, Owatonna Foundation President.


Resler stated, “All of us at the Owatonna Foundation are looking forward to a better 2021 for everyone. This past year we have seen the best of us working towards an end to the pandemic, caring for those affected, the tenacity and courage of our citizens and community businesses and the sheer strength of the human spirit. It is our hope and prayer that everyone will have a safe and healthy 2021, and we again want to thank everyone for their continued support.”


The mission of the Owatonna Foundation is “improving the quality of life for present and future generations by supporting Owatonna projects that focus on community, arts, recreation and education”. Since 1958 the Owatonna Foundation has invested over 12.2 million dollars in Owatonna for projects such as the Owatonna Arts Center, our parks and trails, soccer fields, ISD 761, the Library, the Steele County History Center, the water park and many, many more. The Foundation also annually awards $30,000 for vocational and technical scholarships for both traditional and non-traditional students.