A $100,000 Bush Foundation grant recently awarded to the Initiative Foundation of Little Falls will go toward assisting Pine River and three other cities as they rally residents to improve their community and local economy.

The grant will fund the foundation’s newly enhanced Healthy Communities Partnership (HCP) program, which helps engage citizen teams in planning, implementation and leadership efforts. The three other communities selected to the 2009-2010 program are Delano, Long Prairie and Royalton.

According to Dan Frank, Initiative Foundation program manager for community development, the communities were chosen based on economic need, strong volunteer commitment from residents and the willingness of their local government to work with citizens in creating a more sustainable future.

Pine River’s involvement in the HCP program will be unique as it has the opportunity to become the first small rural community in the state to be designated as a “GreenStep” Community, through the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s proposed program.  Throughout HCP, their focus will be on clean, renewable energy, energy conservation and the creation of living-wage jobs within these areas.

Beginning this month, Initiative Foundation staff will help community teams study local economic, social, and environmental trends.  Each community will then use the information and citizen input to create a plan to increase living-wage jobs, enhance business recruitment and retention efforts and craft local responses to emerging trends.

As part of the program, the Pine River HCP team will receive an initial grant of up to $10,000 for planning and then be eligible for an additional matching grant of up to $10,000 per year for implementation of community projects over the following four years.

“We’re thrilled to receive continued support from the Bush Foundation,” Frank said. “These teams will now be able to make some huge strides toward building a better future for their communities.”

For more information or to get involved in the HCP program, contact Dan Frank at (877) 632-9255 or dfrank@ifound.org.

The Bush Foundation was established in 1953 by 3M executive, Archibald Bush, and his wife, Edyth.  The foundation strives to be a catalyst to shape vibrant communities in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota by investing in courageous and effective leadership that significantly strengthens and improves the well-being of people in these three states.

Based in Little Falls and serving central Minnesota’s 14 counties, the Initiative Foundation offers loans to businesses, grants to nonprofits, and a variety of leadership programs that enable citizens to build stronger communities.  Through its leadership programs, the foundation has provided training to 4,262 community leaders representing over 420 community groups and organizations since 1986.

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