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Foundation offers opportunity for people in poverty

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Foundation offers opportunity for people in poverty

The Otto Bremer Foundation announced 52 grants totaling $7 million to address the impact of the persistently difficult economic conditions on the lives of vulnerable people, especially those living in poverty.

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The grants will enable community organizations in Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin to provide support for basic needs, such as food, clothing, shelter and access to medical care. Grants will also provide opportunities for people living in poverty to access the tools, skills, connections and other resources they need to begin to change their situation over the long term.

“This two-pronged approach — addressing immediate needs during a time of crisis and providing opportunities to achieve long-term economic stability — is part of a deep tradition at the Otto Bremer Foundation,” said William H. Lipschultz, a trustee of the Foundation,, in a news release. “Otto Bremer believed that people could survive and flourish if they had help at critical times.”

“Over the last year we have learned from community organizations serving the vulnerable that clients are facing more serious and deeper crises than in the past,” said Daniel C. Reardon, a Foundation trustee. “Our goal is to enable organizations to provide the intensive services and staff time needed to make a difference.”

The year-end awards are part of approximately $30 million in Otto Bremer Foundation grants made in 2011. They fall within four grant clusters that target different locations and purposes:

• The first cluster focuses on meeting basic needs in the greater Bremer region. This cluster provides grants to 31 organizations primarily in less populous areas of the Foundation’s three-state region to help ensure adequate access to food, clothing, shelter, personal safety and health care for vulnerable individuals. The initiative, totaling $1.1 million, enables recent recipients of Otto Bremer Foundation grants to serve additional clients or provide broader assistance to existing clients.

• The second cluster focuses on relieving poverty in St. Paul. These grants support emergency needs for food and shelter and stabilize vulnerable families by preventing loss of housing, reducing family violence and increasing access to income and benefits. Fourteen organizations, all recent Foundation grant recipients, are receiving a total of $1.4 million to continue to address clients’ emergency and long-term needs. The focus of this cluster of grants on St. Paul reflects Otto Bremer’s commitment to his adopted city. Together, grant recipients serve all the city’s neighborhoods and its major racial and ethnic communities.

• The third cluster focuses on addressing the growing issue of youth homelessness in the Twin Cities metro area. Grants totaling $4 million over three years will help six organizations enhance safety and short-term stability for homeless youth and enable them to move forward on the path of healthy development. Specifically, funding will build additional capacity for street outreach to homeless youth, increase the emergency shelter space available for youth and provide operating support for opportunity centers where homeless youth can find daytime support and connections to health, educational and employment opportunities.

• Finally, a $468,000 grant to the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library focuses on the role libraries can play in helping to alleviate poverty. The grant will build the Library’s capacity to provide resources and assistance to unemployed people looking for work, especially those confronting barriers of culture and language. Specific projects to be supported include providing computer literacy classes in multiple languages in community settings, expanding a work/study program to enhance job search and digital literacy services, improving the capacity to handle materials expeditiously so staff can spend more time assisting patrons and supporting the Library’s collection budget. These long-term investments in the Library strengthen its ability to serve a new generation of patrons who turn to the Library as they work to build a better life.

A list of grants follows. Additional information is available on the Foundation’s website at www.ottobremer.org.

Grants to meet basic needs in the greater Bremer region, include area grants in: Leech Lake Housing Authority, Cass Lake, $40,000; Salem Lutheran Church, Deerwood, $10,000.

Created in 1944, the Otto Bremer Foundation assists people in achieving full economic, civic and social participation in and for the betterment of their communities. This mission is based on the intent of founder Otto Bremer. His vision and longstanding commitment to communities during and after the Great Depression are carried forward today through the Foundation’s work in the places that are homes and neighbors to Bremer banks. The Foundation strives to help build healthy, vibrant communities—communities where basic needs are met, mutual regard is prized and opportunities for economic, civic and social participation are within everyone’s reach.

The Otto Bremer Foundation owns 92 percent of Bremer Bank, and receives an equivalent share of the bank profits that are paid out as dividends. This means that a large portion of bank profit is invested back in local communities through grants and program-related investments.

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