2020 Grant Recipients
Northfield Healthy Community Initiative – Healing Together: Moving Toward Resilience
Educators are on the front lines of keeping our kids healthy, which includes the responsibility to impact social and emotional development. Empowering staff of the Northfield Public Schools to be trauma responsive through an evidence-based training program will foster a climate of hope and reduce the stigma of mental health in the general population. The project goal is to embed trauma responsive practices into the classroom. This project will partner with Advanced Trauma Consulting to provide trainings on executive functioning, secondary trauma, trauma responsiveness, and the impact of COVID-19. These opportunities will reach at least 400 Northfield birth – K12 educators.
Northfield Union of Youth – A Taste of Northfield
Food has always been a simple and abundant way for volunteers to show their support to the Key. However, during COVID-19, family style meals are not allowed which means donations have had to be limited. This grant from Northfield Shares will provide food security in 2021 and help the Northfield Union of Youth continue to lessen the trauma of the pandemic for youth and families in Northfield.
Infants Remembered in Silence – Northfield Area Bereavement Support Packets
Advocate and Bereavement Support Packets are provided to those who have experienced the death of a child through miscarriage (any gestation), stillbirth, neonatal death, birth defects, illness, accidents, SIDS/SUID, and all other infant/early childhood death. The goal is to provide packets to 150 mothers, thus supporting at least 1,500 people (1 Mom, 1 Dad, 4 Grandparents, 2 Siblings, 2 Friends).
Northfield Youth Choir – Finding Solutions of Unique Challenges to Singing
Northfield Youth Choirs was founded in 1986 with the belief that all children can benefit from singing together in community, regardless of background or musical training. For over thirty years, young people from the Northfield area have participated in our programs, regardless of musical experience or ability to pay. We ensure that the cost of participating is not a barrier for any singer who wants to participate by minimizing tuition and providing scholarships, transportation to rehearsals, and an active after school program that attracts more than 60 participants. The fall season has begun with online rehearsals, online individual and small group voice lessons, and the production of a virtual winter concert with vocal parts performed by singers asynchronously is in progress. Conductors and staff have devoted a great amount of time and energy to making this shift in programming possible, and are looking to expand opportunities to increase participation in the spring and summer.
Cannon River Watershed Partnership – Downstream Community Film Festival
The ongoing pandemic has led many Northfield residents to feel isolated. This outdoor, physically distanced film festival will help community members to see the Cannon River as a community asset that we all need to keep clean and beautiful. The goals of this program include hosting a 2-day outdoor community film festival highlighting the work of both local and international filmmakers and create a safe community arts and water event. This event will strive to increase the feeling of community in Northfield and inspire participants to work for cleaner water and healthier communities. During the COVID-19 pandemic outdoor spaces are especially important as wonderful places to social distance as we recreate. The films shown will inspire more residents to take part in the annual river CleanUP as they point out how picking up litter and keeping stormwater clean keeps our river clean and beautiful.
Community Action Center of Northfield – Community Food Access
The mission of the project of increasing mobile food distributions and opening a satellite food shelf is to expand upon the Community Action Center’s efforts in alleviating food insecurity by bringing vital resources directly to the neighborhoods experiencing the greatest need. The CAC has been overwhelmed by more than twice as many families needing access to food, housing, and other essential needs during COVID-19. In response to this unprecedented challenge, the CAC has launched a new food access system from the Northfield Community Education Center (NCEC) (former Greenvale School). This new center will house an easily accessible satellite food shelf for families taking part in Greenvale Community School activities, attending Adult Basic Education classes, or attending Early Childhood Family Education classes. These food access events feature fresh produce from local growers as well as meat, culturally specific foods, hygiene, and sanitation products. Additionally, CAC has provided bi-lingual staff support at these events to support families struggling with housing, rent, employment, health insurance, and a myriad of other challenges faced by our community. This project will provide food access to approximately 300+ additional families per month for the next 12 months. This is an increase from 300 families per month who have historically utilized the food shelf at the CAC to 750+ families per month needing access to food in August and September (now 450 at the food shelf and 300+ at the Northfield Community Education Center).
Project Friendship – Building Confidence through Conflict
Project Friendship is growing. In a time when our youth are, by necessity, physically distant, there is a need to have greater social and emotional connection. Families are reaching out looking for ways for their children to connect. In the 2018/19 school year Project Friendship served 126 children, in the 2019/20 school year they served 154 children. Already this fall Project Friendship is seeing a surge in parents reaching out, and they expect to serve at least 200 children this school year. The goal is for every child in the Northfield area who wants a mentor to be matched with a well-qualified, trained mentor. This year the Northfield Community College Collaborative (NCCC) was added to the mentor pool, along with Carleton and St. Olaf mentors. Now more than ever, when more and more youth are battling mental illness and stress in their daily lives, Project Friendship needs to be there to support and encourage all families and be ready with well trained, kind, and empathetic mentors.
Growing Up Healthy – Parents and Policy: Voices influencing a better education system
Currently, people of color comprise 14% of Northfield’s population, including Latinx and African immigrants. Minnesota’s opportunity gaps are worst-in-the-nation. Growing Up Healthy is part of Minnesota’s Education Partnerships Coalition (EPC) – a group of seven cradle-to-career communities that believe a new education system is necessary and possible. The work weaves local parent/community knowledge into state-level decision-making processes. Minnesota’s public decision-making bodies have historically prioritized professional voices – people paid to speak on behalf of impacted populations. Years of community organizing has created an opening for parent/caregiver leadership to be better integrated into the functioning of these public bodies. This program is nonpartisan and is not lobbying. Parents are their children’s best advocates in ensuring access to quality education. GUH is committed to increasing the number of low-income, Latinx and immigrant parents/caregivers who: Engage neighbors/family/friends in discussions about ways their collective voice can influence change; Engage with local leaders about policy and system improvements; Serve on school board advisory teams/seek out formal leadership roles; Participate in state-level education advocacy. As part of this program at least 30 parents/caregivers will participate in at least five hours/month of workshops and activities grounded in how to use personal data and stories to compel change. The program is built to embrace new engagement ideas that emerge from the parents/caregivers themselves. By the end of the year, parents/caregivers will drive at least three documentable changes in the local education system, and support advocacy for at least one state-level policy change benefiting students of color.
Community Action Center – Diapers for Baby Buns
The Community Action Center food shelf serves an estimated 270 children who are in need of diapers each month to supplement what their family cannot afford. Cloth diapers add to the barriers people face when transportation or laundry is not accessible. The expected impact is healthier children who have families that are not stretching the use of diapers on hand. Providing this basic need allows the household to allocate dollars to other needs, and time to devote to their children. The food shelf cannot meet all the needs of families, but strives to help them free up their budget by providing items needed. The demand for diapers has more than doubled in the last six months and is anticipated to continue to increase. The CAC has a Diaper Task Force of women who have devoted their time and energy to this cause. Our food banks occasionally have diapers available at a reduced cost, but this is inconsistent. The Task Force was developing strategies to raise funds and awareness of the need before the pandemic hit and derailed plans.
Laura Baker School – Services & Staffing
Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many individuals with IDD have seen their day programs close and have experienced greater isolation due to visitor restrictions. The importance of having adequate support staff has never been greater, yet hiring and retaining direct support staff to work has never been more challenging. As a result, Laura Baker Services Association (LBSA) and similar organizations are having increased difficulty hiring and retaining staff. LBSA serves 70-75 individuals with IDD through three levels of housing and support services. Maintaining adequate staffing levels has been a challenge for IDD service providers, particularly in the last 20 years. The COVID pandemic has exacerbated these challenges. CARES Act funding to senior care providers has been outpacing funding to IDD service providers during the recent pandemic, causing LBSA and similar organizations to lose staff to nursing homes and other businesses because of pay rate discrepancies. In addition, due to the closure of client’s day and work programs, LBSA has had to add 13 full time daytime positions to support clients who are not able to attend their programs. The safety and wellbeing of our clients remains a top priority. Due to a recent drop in LBSA staffing levels, we have temporarily consolidated our clients from five to two cottages on our Oak Street campus. We have accomplished this because of some unfilled beds (not filled during COVID because of safety protocols), working with several family members taking residents temporarily into their own homes, and securing temporary placements for several others. During this transition, the LBSA Administrative Team and our Board of Trustees is implementing a plan to hire and train new staff so that we can return to our normal service levels. This plan includes raising wages of existing staff and the starting wage rate for newly hired direct support professionals. The cost of raising staff wages is $216,000 annually. The grant from Northfield Shares will help fund this pay increase.
Northfield Arts Guild – Arts Outreach
The Northfield Arts Guild relies on enrollment fees to offer most of our arts education programming. In thanks for the community’s support and in response to those who cannot take part in paid classes, we created two annual programs that provide free arts instruction and engagement for people of all ages, with an emphasis on low income and growing Latinx communities. These programs are Open Art (free drop-in arts instruction for individuals/families) and Inspiration Station (art making activities brought directly to neighborhoods throughout the city), both managed and taught by the Education Assistant & Outreach Coordinator (EAOC). These programs have responded to COVID-19 by going online and/or providing take home art making kits. The EAOC has transitioned these programs to offer monthly free online arts instruction videos (in English and Spanish) using materials commonly found in peoples’ homes, and has included the creation and distribution of free, bilingual, art kits, with instructions for multiple skills levels. The NAG looks forward to returning both programs to in-person activities in summer 2021, but are prepared to continue with their current format if needed. Regardless, the goal is to ensure free access to the arts for every interested youth and adult in our community.
Rice County Neighbors United – Necessary Conversations for a Healthy and Informed Community
The Necessary Conversation program started summer 2020, thanks to funds from Northfield Shares. Our friends and neighbors are immigrant and refugee families who may not speak English and feel isolated. Often, people aren’t aware of services available, or discussions and decisions by city government, city agencies and the school board which will affect their lives. These disadvantages have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Necessary Conversations cover many areas including housing, physical health, mental health, self-advocacy, civic engagement, identity and anti-racism actions and financial education. The conversations in Spanish are moderated by experts. The goal is to reach many members of the immigrant and refugee communities and help them connect via Zoom. The following four conversations are ready, with future conversations in the works: Physical Health, Mental Health, Latinx Identity and Anti-racism, and Financial Literacy.
Ruth’s House Of Hope – Emergency and Transitional Shelter Program
Ruth’s House is a nonprofit Emergency and Transitional Shelter with supportive services in Rice County for women and children experiencing homelessness due to domestic violence or other traumatic life circumstances. As of the fall of 2020, Ruth’s House is operating at full capacity. In 2019 Ruth’s House provided safe shelter, food, basic needs, and supportive services by maintaining/developing close relationships with collaborating organizations and local service agencies for 32 women and 26 children. This program is funded entirely by community donations and foundation grants, which have been significantly impacted by the pandemic.
Northfield Area Family YMCA – Scholarship for memberships & program participation
The YMCA scholarship program ensures that no one is turned away from YMCA services because of an inability to pay for their participation in membership, programs/services. Programs and services include: swim lessons, youth sports, childcare/camp programming, health and wellness activities for adults and membership. More than ever during this time of pandemic and into the future, social isolation, mental health and trauma are being experienced in our community. Inclusion in Y programs and services help to address these concerns and provide for all the opportunity to participate in programs for youth, adults and families. The Y programs support all populations in our community and the scholarship program will impact the lives of 1,000 people or more. In addition, the Y will continue to work with community partners, helping to provide referral options to the YMCA to ensure barriers are addressed and scholarships are provided as quickly as possible, enabling quick participation for all who are interested and qualify for the scholarships.
Northfield Youth Soccer Association – 2020 and beyond
During this pandemic, kids need recreational opportunities that nourish their bodies and minds. As an outdoor activity, soccer is a great choice. For 35 years, the Northfield Soccer Association has offered programs for 500 kids ages 4–19 each year. Prior to COVID-19, the association had a solid financial cushion. However, when the spring and summer seasons were canceled, nearly $70,000 were refunded in registration fees. The “Northfield Soccer Association 2020 and Beyond” project is being launched to ensure the viability of this organization, beginning by paying the outstanding staff so 2021 programs can be developed. Goals of the Association include: working with NYSA COVID-19 Coordinator, Dr. Dave Morrell, to ensure all 2020-21 programs meet Minnesota Department of Health and Minnesota Youth Soccer Association guidelines; offering an optional winter training program for Academy and Traveling players (ages 9 and up); improving family engagement by starting a volunteer program; and ensuring that families experiencing financial hardship due to the pandemic have access to scholarships.
Age Friendly Northfield – Spanish Translation of Community Resources and Services Guide (CRSG) for Older Adults and Caregivers
This project will create and print a Community Resources for Seniors Guide (CRSG) that is translated to Spanish. The Spanish language CRSG is crucial to the inclusion of all our older adults in Northfield. The goal is to increase the ability to reach older adults, homebound individuals, caregivers, and the Hispanic and Latino communities as well as those without online technology. The CRSG will provide reliable and efficient information on a broad range of available support.
HealthFinders Collaborative – Medication Therapy for Opiate Addiction
HealthFinders Collaborative (HFC) combines clinical care, community engagement, patient advocacy, and wellness education to fill gaps, improve access, and drive outcomes for underserved populations in Northfield and the surrounding community. Opiate use has been a persistent problem in Rice County, with overdoses going up; this year police have responded to at least 12 overdoses so far. HFC has been a key partner in a countywide effort to address opiate addiction. The project engages law enforcement, social service agencies, and providers across the county to provide coordinated support, and together they have identified the need for medication assisted therapy in Northfield. Medication Assisted Therapy for Opiate Addiction (MAT) can transform care for people addicted to opiates. It involves prescribing a micro-dose of Suboxone, supported by regular and careful clinical monitoring. While the ability for providers to prescribe powerful medications is relatively easy, obtaining certification to provide MAT to support patient’s recovery is a relatively lengthy and involved process for providers. In January, HFC’s director of clinical care and nurse practitioner became credentialed and began offering these services weekly in the Faribault location. The program saw rapid growth and, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, continued to grow unabated. Currently the program has supported the recovery of 25 patients through weekly monitoring and Suboxone prescription. When the program began, there were no providers offering MAT in Northfield, however HFC hired a provider just for this purpose, and is in the process of credentialing another nurse practitioner to expand the program to Northfield. The proposed project hopes to expand to meet the early success and growing needs. Since 2018, HFC has expanded services locally in response to local needs, adding dental care, mental health visits, and now MAT here in Northfield. Together, these services will establish HFC as a comprehensive medical, dental, and wellness home for the underserved population in Northfield and surrounding rural communities.
HealthFinders Collaborative – Community COVID Response
The COVID-19 work is driven by three priorities: staying on top of rapidly evolving clinical guidance, coordination with local hospitals and public health, and consistent communication to the community through translation of the website and daily social media content. Goals: support underlying needs with virtual visits, COVID-19 testing and follow-up, and patient advocacy with insurance, social supports, and unemployment enrollment.
Northfield Retirement Community – Building Community Connections Virtually
As strict safety measures continue to be necessary, life at the Northfield Retirement Community (NRC) has significantly changed. NRC staff continue to brainstorm new ways to make their more than 200 residents feel connected to one another and life outside of the campus. However, due to COVID-19, the NRC is limited in what they can implement while still maintaining needed safety precautions. This program will help connect residents through technology, including broadcasting daily uplifting content from the pastor. The goal is to use technology to help deter depression, feelings of isolation and loneliness, and to improve resident communication, morale, energy, and connection.
Community Action Center – Feeding Our Community
The Community Action Center of Northfield (CAC) is the main provider of basic needs support throughout the Northfield area including food, shelter, (un)employment support, financial assistance, youth services, and so much more. In 2018, the CAC serve nearly 3,200 individuals annually. Three months into the COVID-19 pandemic that number soared to nearly 4,200 individuals. This grant will help source culturally-relevant foods to meet the growing needs of the Northfield community.