Often, people and organizations come to us looking for funding for a project they are passionate about. So just what does the Owatonna Foundation Fund and how are those decisions made?
The Foundation has a Grants Committee comprised of ten Trustees. These dedicated citizens meet twice a year to review the submitted grant requests that the Foundation receives. There are two deadlines, one on May 1st of the year and another on September 1st. Once a grant application is received it is reviewed to be sure that all the required information is completed. The Trustees are then sent the grant proposals and a site visit, if appropropriate, is scheduled. The site visits provide valuable insight into the proposed projects and they also allow the Trustees to gather additional information that might not be in the application. The site visit also gives those that are asking for the grant an opportunity to show and explain how the funds will be used. Many of the Trustees that are on the Grants Committee are also great community resources for help and advice, and on occasion, they have even mentored the grant recipients and their projects. Grants that are $25,000 or less may be approved by the Grants Committee. Requests for over $25,000 may be recommended for approval by the Grants Committee, but final approval must come from the full Board of Trustees.
The Owatonna Foundation only funds capital projects. Just what does this mean? A capital project is one that is typically a “brick and mortar” type project. We help to fund projects that will have a lasting impact on our community such as buildings, parks and trails, and items that have long term usage and viability. Some examples would be: the Library, History Center, ball diamonds, scoreboards, the Zamboni ice machine at the Four Seasons Centre, Hospitality House, Wee Pals kitchen, Hospice House, River Springs Water Park, SCFF, and many, many, others. In fact, since 1958 more than 11.8 million dollars for over 260 projects has been funded by the Foundation. So, while there are many wonderful programmatic projects that are proposed within our community each year, the Foundation’s Board of Trustees has held true to their roots by only funding capital projects. Thankfully, even though the Foundation is unable to fund programmatic grants our community is still blessed to have other related grant opportunities to help fund the many necessary and important programs that are proposed each year.
How much money is available for grants? The Foundation’s Board of Trustees has a spending policy that annually allocates the funds available for grants. From this annual allocation, $30,000 is automatically set aside for scholarships. The remaining balance, based on the spending policy, becomes the money available for grants in that calendar year. Having the spending policy ensures that we will have funds available into perpetuity and the fund grows over time to meet the needs of the community. As our donors continue to support us and the Owatonna Foundation’s financial portfolio grows we will have more dollars available for grants in the future.
To apply for a grant from the Owatonna Foundation the organization that is applying must be a 501C 3 non-profit. The application and all pertinent criteria is located on our website at: www.owatonnafoundation.org. If the organization has questions or needs help they may call our office at 455-2995 and ask to speak to Laura Resler. We encourage calls as that may help your organization through the application process or determine if the project meets the funding criteria.
The Owatonna Foundation is Owatonna’s community foundation and it exists today to continue its mission of “improving the quality of life for present and future generations by supporting Owatonna projects that focus on community, arts, recreation and education”. As we celebrate our 60th year of investing into the Owatonna community we encourage any organization with a worthy project to apply for a grant so that we can continue to enhance Owatonna and make it an even better place to live for all of us!
Resler is the Executive Director of the Owatonna Foundation