The Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation announced today that their annual Brainerd Lakes Area Grant round is now accepting applications. The BLACF has focused this year's grant round on supporting programs and projects that help develop, attract and retain a quality workforce for the Brainerd lakes area now and in the future. Grant application deadline is Jan. 15. For additional information and to apply, visit www.communitygiving.org/grants and select "Brainerd Lakes Area Grant."

"Our Board and Grants Committee have decided to concentrate our grant funds to address what many feel is the most significant challenge facing our economic vitality, our workforce shortage," Karl Samp, executive director of the Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation, stated in a news release. "We are especially looking for initiatives that positively develop our young people who tend to stay in our community after graduation. We will also consider initiatives that help attract and retain skilled workers to the Brainerd lakes area."

Last year BLACF distributed $91,000 in grants to 11 projects including support for the Brainerd Riverwalk, programming at the Shop through the Brainerd Baxter Youth Center, expansion of the Lakes Area Music Festival and youth entrepreneurism and workforce readiness for high school students through Junior Achievement.

The Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation, in affiliation with CommunityGiving, is a public charity that attracts and administers charitable funds for the benefit of the local community. Since 1998, BLACF has grown to over $9.4 million in assets and awarded over $4.3 million in grants to local nonprofits. CommunityGiving is a collaboration of community foundations united under a single framework to create efficiencies that maximize the impact of our donors. The core foundations working with CommunityGiving include the Alexandria Area Community Foundation, the Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation, the Central Minnesota Community Foundation and the Willmar Area Community Foundation. Collectively, CommunityGiving administers more than 700 funds totaling more than $129 million. Learn more at CommunityGiving.org/Brainerd.