Local Nonprofits Put Northfield Shares Grants to Use Part 1

First of a three-part series featuring grants in action


Northfield Shares, a community foundation centered on philanthropy, volunteerism and collaborative leadership, distributed over $68,000 to 15 local nonprofits as part of its annual grant cycle. Grants were awarded to organizations whose projects create long-term solutions to core issues affecting our community, enhance the overall well-being of the area and generate the biggest multiplier effect. Several funds under Northfield Shares’ management make it possible to award these grants.

The organizations that were selected to receive grants from Northfield Shares represent a wide variety of nonprofit work and outreach. 2017 grant recipients include Cannon River Watershed Partnership, Community Action Center of Northfield, Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys, Greenvale Park Community School, HealthFinders Collaborative, Laura Baker Services Association, Northfield Area Learning Center, Northfield in Bloom, Northfield Booster Club, Northfield Healthy Community Initiative (Reading Rockets and YouthBank), Northfield Senior Center, Northfield TORCH, Northfield Union of Youth, Northfield Youth Sports Collaborative and Project Friendship.

Northfield Shares Executive Director Mike Krance said, “Northfield Shares believes that collaboration allows resources to go further, and through the grants we award, we seek to empower the local nonprofit community to build an even stronger Northfield. It is through collective impact like this that we see meaningful change in our area.

Northfield in Bloom

Northfield in Bloom will be supported in their community beautification efforts through a $6,000 grant from Northfield Shares that funds landscaping and floral displays for the lower river walk area and the Children’s Pollinator Garden. In addition, Northfield in Bloom will continue its leadership of the Beautify Northfield Coalition and support for the Save the Northfield Depot efforts. Continuing environmental efforts include work on the Urban Forestry Asset Management Plan, the Energy Working Group and the introduction of the Cannon River Valley Arboretum concept. Pat Allen, Northfield in Bloom chair, said, “We are lucky to live in an area that readily supports beautification efforts. Projects like these truly do ‘require a village,’ and it’s lovely to see people coming together to enhance our community.”

Northfield Healthy Community Initiative

A $5,000 grant from Northfield Shares will support the YouthBank program’s presence in Northfield. Supported by Northfield Healthy Community Initiative (HCI), YouthBank is a youth philanthropy program in which a team of trained grantmakers – ages 14 to 19 – awards funds to youth-led projects that improve the quality of life for youth in our community. “Youth have ideas and the desire to inspire change in the community in meaningful ways, and the YouthBank program provides them the means to do so,” said HCI Youth Engagement Coordinator Meleah Follen. “The support received will make those changes even more impactful, and we look forward to watching this program continue to grow and empower youth.”

Community Action Center of Northfield

A $1,000 grant from Northfield Shares will help support activity and sports scholarships at the Community Action Center (CAC) of Northfield. The CAC works to counteract the negative impact of poverty by supporting children in low-income households, in part through providing scholarships and financial assistance for students to partake in co-curricular activities, such as the arts, dance, athletics and summer camp. “It is important that children from low-income families can participate in extracurricular activities along with their peers,” said Jim Blaha, CAC executive director. “Our scholarships depend on community collaboration, and support from other organizations really helps to make these opportunities accessible for youth.”

Northfield Union of Youth

Funds from a $5,000 Northfield Shares grant will go toward supporting The Key: Safe Food at a Safe Place, a program of Northfield Union of Youth that aims to provide free and equitable access to healthy meals during after-school hours for Northfield’s at-risk youth. Northfield Union of Youth has hired a food-safe certified food consultant to help create and implement a safe, sustainable and volunteer-run system of food delivery and food education. “This grant will help us as we train, coordinate and recruit volunteers to safely provide food for youth and to empower and educate youth to prepare food for themselves,” said Scott Wopata, Northfield Union of Youth executive director. “Youth deserve to have a safe meal at a safe place, and these funds will help us do just that.”

Project Friendship

Project Friendship’s expansion program, Everyone Needs a Mentor/I had a Mentor, will be supported by funds from a $4,000 grant from Northfield Shares. Specifically, Project Friendship sought a matching grant to enable the filling of a cultural liaison position. The cultural liaison will expand communication efforts to engage Spanish-speaking families, encourage participation in the program and manage the additional mentoring relationships that result from the outreach. Project Friendship Executive Director Sarah VanSickle said, “We are grateful for the support of our programming, as it will allow us to reach out to more families whose children could benefit from our program and mentoring. We’ll also be able to further strengthen our efficiency and our ability to evaluate our effectiveness.”

Jennifer Sawyer, Northfield Shares board chair, said, “We are so excited to see the good that these organizations continue to do for our community. We believe in them and support the power of their work.”

Contact Krance at or 507-403-9755 to learn more about Northfield Shares’ granting process.

Northfield Shares is the Northfield area’s community foundation founded to advance philanthropy, inspire volunteerism and promote collaborative leadership.

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