Showing posts from 2016
Now in our 30th year, the Northwest Minnesota Foundation has been working alongside of YOU to help sustain our rural communities. We want our twelve county area to be the place you love to live and work.

By acting on our mission and vision we are determined to make a difference -- for our businesses and the economy, for our nonprofits and their leaders, for children and families, for our natural resources, and for people who want to donate to charitable causes.

Since inception in 1986, we have received generous support from The McKnight Foundation, other foundations, and many individuals, organizations, and businesses. Our legacy of projects and activities have helped move the region closer to that vision. Working with you and for you, we accomplished the following:

· Business loan programs have made 626 loans for a total of more than $26.4 million

· Creation or retention of almost 2,700 jobs

· Made over 9,300 grants totaling $44.1 million

· Adult and youth …


If you are over age 70½, the Federal government permits you to rollover up to $100,000 from your IRA to charity without increasing your taxable income or paying any additional tax. These tax-free rollover gifts could be $1,000, $10,000 or any amount up to $100,000 this year. The gift satisfies your required minimum distribution (RMD) for this year.
Not yet 70½?  This law has been made permanent and in the future you may want to take advantage of what it offers. Also, if you are helping someone in this age group with their finances and planning, please consider sharing this information.
IRA Rollover Your IRA may have increased in value over the years and you have more income than you need. The IRA rollover gift is a simple and easy way to provide for your favorite charity while not increasing your taxable income. Simply contact your custodian and request that an amount be transferred to charity. The nonprofit receives a nice gift and you avoid any additional tax and satisfy your RMD fo…

Deb Zak Awarded 2016 Outstanding Community Builder

The Northwest Minnesota Women’s Fund recently named Deb Zak of Crookston as a 2016 Outstanding Community Builder. Outstanding Community Builder Awards are presented to local women who have demonstrated leadership in improving their communities in their chosen professions, as volunteers, as mentors and in raising or supporting families.

Since the inception of this award in 1998, 49 women have been recognized for helping to make Northwest Minnesota a better place to live, work and raise families. A reception in Zak’s honor was held October 12th at the University of Minnesota Crookston.

You can read more about Deb here.

Cindy Serratore 2016 Outstanding Community Builder

The Northwest Minnesota Women’s Fund recently named Cindy Serratore of Bemidji as a 2016 Outstanding Community Builder. Outstanding Community Builder Awards are presented to women from the region who have demonstrated leadership in improving their communities in their chosen professions, as volunteers, as mentors and in raising or supporting families. A reception in Serratore’s honor was held September 26th at the Mayflower Building in Bemidji.
You can read more about Cindy's contributions to her community at, under NMF News, or click here.

Race Equity is Important in Northwest Minnesota

It’s true Native Americans make up the vast majority of northwest Minnesota’s people of color. However, the number of foreign-born residents continues to increase. Many of the challenges among diverse racial groups are preserving cultural heritage or identity, overcoming systemic barriers, and creating a shared understanding to engage all members of our communities.
Although the portion of people of color in northwest Minnesota is lower than Minnesota as a whole (roughly 15% in NW MN vs. 18.4% MN) , these rates are both significant and growing steadily since 2000, using data sourced from Minnesota Compass.
NMF's Community Connections Grants Program supported a variety of community-led initiatives centered on race equity in the last year. These recent grants speak to the diversity and rich cultural heritage of our region.

Bemidji Area Indian Center began a program to restore traditional Ojibwe food systems and cultural practices. They will organize participants around seasonal activ…

Northwest Minnesota Foundation Receives a Significant Donation

The most welcome news was relayed to Northwest Minnesota Foundation President Nancy Vyskocil. It was revealed that Charles Swanson, a Red Lake Falls, MN farmer bequeathed a gift of just over $360,000 to NMF. 

“We regularly receive donations supporting our 345 component funds,” Vyskocil said, “but it isn’t often that such a large gift is given to support the overall work the foundation does within the region. Growth in our endowment allows us to continue to address changing needs.”

Upon learning of Swanson’s generosity “the development team and I could not contain our delight,” Vyskocil added. “It is gratifying when people choose to help us fulfill our mission to make the region a better place to live and work. We will honor this gift and represent the values and hard work of Charles Swanson.”

Swanson was born in 1926 in Red Lake Falls and attended church and high school in St. Hilaire, MN. He graduated in 1947 from the Northwest School of Agriculture in Crookston, MN, where he participa…

What's Behind the Numbers?

Financial summaries and financial position statements always take up large sections of annual reports. NMF’s recently published Fiscal Year 2015 annual report is no different. There are plenty of numbers, but little explanation. 
Thanks are due to Sandy King, our long-time colleague, friend and partner at West Central Initiative, for helping come up with the ideas here that provide great information about annual reports and foundation endowment structure.

The last two NMF annual reports have been redesigned with less text and more graphics. Besides cutting down on length, the new format met our goals of producing a vivid picture of NMF’s financial status, an easily understood look at our program impact, and a snapshot of our gains in raising funds for the region.

Upon reading the financial section, you may be wondering “Why does NMF have over $63 million in assets?”

Over 65 percent of the assets represent philanthropy – both in terms of NMF’s general endowment and our 345 compone…

Introducing Vital Nonprofits

Nonprofit organizations continue to experience changes in board and executive leadership, expanding or contracting missions, challenges and necessity for collaboration, financial stability, and shifting community need for services. Identifying, addressing and planning for these emerging and shifting needs is vitally important for the health of nonprofit organizations and the communities served by the Northwest Minnesota Foundation.

In order to invest in and build the long term sustainability of the region’s nonprofit organizations, NMF is introducing Vital Nonprofits. This is a new delivery method for nonprofit capacity building services. The program will assist nonprofits to meet their missions through targeted and intensive training, assessment, technical assistance, coaching and peer executive and board learning sessions.

The application process is competitive. NMF will intensely invest in the growth and development of up to five nonprofit organizations over a two-year period. App…

Poverty Efforts Across the Region

Nate Dorr, Program Officer Grants 
Poverty is one of those huge, complex societal challenges.  It tends to be geographically localized, either by neighborhood or portions of a county (i.e. Mahnomen, Beltrami, and Clearwater counties).  
It is often generational. A child born into poverty is more likely to remain in poverty into adulthood.  Although it is pervasive across all ethnicities, people of color are more likely to be in poverty.  Philanthropic and nonprofit groups have often been called out for “admiring the problem” of poverty.  Even with all these government programs and nonprofits, what does it take to make even the smallest improvements in poverty data? 
Minnesota Compass data for our 12-county region shows an estimated 14.6% of the 170,450 people living in our region are at or below the Federal poverty line (estimated at 24,886 people).  This percent is above the Minnesota rate of 11.2% for the same time period, and an increase from northwest Minnesota’s rate of 11.5% in 20…

Business Development Program

Robert Maher was recently in Waubun, meeting with a potential new customer. Our business development department works with a variety of businesses and our loan officers are always prepared to meet with potential customers.

NMF's business development program has two different loan programs. The Entrepreneur Development Program can be used to finance up to $35,000 of project costs including inventory, working capital and equipment purchases. The Business Finance Program is used to finance larger projects up to $300,000. The business program can be used to finance working capital, inventory, equipment purchases and real estate purchases.

If you are looking for more information about applying for a business loan through our Business Development Department please do not hesitate to call Robert Maher, 218.759.2057 or toll free MN 800.659.7859.

The Charitable Bequest

What is a Charitable Bequest?

A charitable bequest is a gift traditionally made through a will that enables you to make a significant contribution to the quality of the places served by the Northwest Minnesota Foundation and its family of community and component funds.

Today charitable bequests can also be made through a living trust or a beneficiary designation on a financial account. Almost anyone can afford to a make a charitable bequest and provide for loved ones—you can be a philanthropist. Plus, a charitable bequest costs you nothing to make today because you retain full control of your assets during life.

A Future Gift for Northwest Minnesota--That Costs You Nothing to Make Today

Planning a charitable bequest is one component of an overall financial, tax, and estate planning process.

The process begins by asking: What will I do with what I’ve built during my life? It’s an important question. Without thoughtful planning, your ‘nest egg’ could be squandered through taxes, probat…

Women’s History Month 2016

Events Funded by Northwest Minnesota Women’s Fund
Throughout the month March, Beltrami County Historical Society and Bemidji Public Library presented a series of six Women’s History Month lectures focused on multiple cultural/experiential frames of women of Northwest MN.

The series featured:“Strong Women/Strong Nations: Ojibwe Women at Work” by Historian Brenda Child; “Title IX and the Shaping of Bemidji Women’s Sports” by Professor Dr. Donna Palivec and retired BSU professor Dr. Pat Rosenbroek; “Bemidji’s First Librarians and the Ladies of the Library Association, 1904-1921” by Cecelia Wattles McKeig; “Sister Amata: The Lumberjack Nun” by Sara Breeze; “Women and Conservation in Northwest Minnesota” by Dr. Janet Rith-Najarian, biogeographer and educator with the Minnesota Alliance for Geographer Education; and “Celebrating the First 100 Northwest Minnesota Women’s Fund Women: Building Toward the Next 1,000!” by BSU professor Dr. Carla Norris-Raynbird.

Early Learning Scholarships

Click here to watch Ethel's story
Chances are you’ve heard a thing or two about Early Learning Scholarships, but I’m guessing you’ve never heard from a family impacted by one. That may be because only 12% of children from eligible families for scholarships receive one.

Bobbi Ordez has one such family. Bobbi is a mother of three. She tried to do her best for her kids and enrolled her oldest in a high-quality early learning program. It wasn’t long until Bobbi and her husband could no longer afford the program.

They didn’t know what to do, but they definitely didn’t want to take their daughter out of the program. She was thriving. Luckily, they received an Early Learning Scholarship before it was too late.

Minnesota must do better to reach children from low-income families, who need access to the best early learning opportunities the most.

Early Learning Scholarships strengthen families and help children who need it the most by giving them the opportunity to attend a high-quality …

NMF Helps Communities Plan for the Future

The Northwest Minnesota Foundation continues to help communities across the region plan for their future.  Over the last two years, the foundation’s Community Planning Grant Program has awarded seventeen grants totaling $164,835 to address housing, economic development, recreation, and growth issues. 
Cities like Ada, Crookston, Red Lake Falls, Bemidji, and Badger have accessed funding to help with comprehensive planning.  Much of the funding supports community input through surveys, townhall style meetings, informational interviews, and other methods.  
The key is to collect as much information from a diverse set of community members (e.g. age, ethnicity, gender, income, business type) as possible.  Lessons are learned from the community on how to share information, what recreational amenities are desired, and how they want their community to look and feel. 
Zoning and ordinance reviews also help communities plan for future housing needs, industrial parcels, and other local issues effe…

An update from our Business Development Program

It's very common for NMF business development specialists to log a lot of road miles each week. When we're traveling the region - it is very beneficial for us to meet with several people in one day. We may be meeting with current and potential clients, or visiting with partners in the region as time allows.

During the winter months, staff spends a significant amount of time with our clients discussing year-end financial information. It is always our goal to stay in contact with our customers and respond promptly to any concerns or questions.

During a recent visit to Oslo, I met with a loan customer to review the company's FYE 2015 income statement and balance sheet. As part of any financial review it is important to look back at the 2015 budget and compare budgeted financial expectations with actual financial performance. 
This is just one of the ways, we provide technical assistance to our clients.

If you are looking for more information about applying for a business loa…

Charitable Gift Annuities

A charitable gift annuity (CGA) is a way to make a gift to support the causes that you care about. You make a gift of cash or property to us. In return, we will make payments for life to you, you and a loved one, or another person.

Each payment will be fixed and the amount of each payment will depend on the age of the person who receives the payments.

Write a checkUse a credit cardTransfer stock

Your personal payment rateYour income tax deduction for this yearYour capital gains tax savingsAfter all payments have been made, we will receive the remaining value of your gift to support the causes that matter to you.
Perhaps you like the idea of a charitable gift annuity, but you want an even higher rate than the one designated for your age. You do have options especially if you are just starting to think about your retirement, or are already retired and can wait awhile for your gift annuity to begin.

A deferred gift…