Responding to criticism from the local community, the board of trustees of the Blandin Foundation in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, has agreed to dedicate at least 55 percent of the foundation's grant dollars to Grand Rapids and the surrounding area.
The foundation, which was established in 1941 by newspaperman Charles K. Blandin to benefit the Grand Rapids area, began serving rural communities in other parts of the state in 1977, eventually becoming the largest rural-based private foundation in Minnesota. Earlier this year, however, Grand Rapids citizens objecting to the foundation's spending policies filed a complaint in Ramsey County probate court alleging that the $382 million foundation hadn't earmarked enough for Grand Rapids, Itasca County, and the nearby towns of Blackduck, Hill City, Northhome, and Remer. Ramsey County District Court Judge Margaret Marrinan helped negotiate the 55 percent formula during a mediation session with representatives of the Minnesota Attorney General's office and Citizens for Blandin, a nonprofit group. Compliance with the resolution will be determined on a six-year rolling average, beginning with the foundation's 2003 grantmaking.
"The formula roughly equals the annual Grand Rapids municipal operating budget. For example, in 2002 alone the foundation contributed more than $5 million for dozens of programs here, not including the $20 million grant for the new hospital complex — the foundation's single largest grant ever," said foundation chairman Kenneth Lundgren. "This decision formally assures the community of the foundation's long-standing and ongoing commitment to the Grand Rapids area."