The Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation recently announced it is accepting grant applications.

The focus of this year’s grant funds is supporting programs and projects that help “develop, attract and retain a quality workforce for the Brainerd lakes area, now and in the future.”

The grant application deadline is Jan. 15. For additional information and to apply, visit communitygiving.org/grants and select “Brainerd Lakes Area Grant.”

“Our board and grants committee wants our funds to address what many feel is the most significant challenge facing our economic vitality; our workforce shortage and working to close the opportunity gap,” Karl Samp, foundation executive director, stated in a news release.

The foundation has distributed almost $200,000 in grants to local projects such as Brainerd Lakes Newcomers Club, the Self-Healing Communities Project through Bridges of Hope, the chamber’s Career Depot and the Brainerd Family YMCA’s STEM Camp.

“We are especially looking for projects that positively develop young people who tend to stay in our community after graduation and enter the local workforce, as well as initiatives that can help create a bridge for underprivileged youth to have access to opportunities to prosper and achieve the American dream. We also consider initiatives that help attract and retain skilled workers,” Samp stated.

Additional financial support was given by the foundation to the Lakes Area Music Festival, Brainerd Public Schools Foundation, Brainerd Jaycees, Legacy Chorale, The Center, the Salvation Army of Brainerd and more.