Now in its seventh year, the annual prize program recognizes organizations working to improve local communities in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and the twenty-three Native nations that share the same geography. Each of the winning organizations will receive an unrestricted grant equal to 25 percent of its prior fiscal year budget, up to $500,000, as well as promotional support.
This year's recipients are the Hmong American Partnership (St. Paul, Minnesota), which provides a combination of social services and enterprises designed to help immigrants and refugees in the community prosper; the Minnesota Indian Women's Resource Center (Minneapolis, Minnesota), which works to build hope, health, and cultural prosperity for Native women and their families; Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (Backus, Minnesota), which uses solar energy to build the economic well-being and energy sovereignty of low-income rural and Native communities; the Valley City-Barnes County Development Corporation (Valley City, North Dakota), whose community-led economic development efforts are focused on affordable housing, childcare, and workforce development; and South Dakota State University (Brookings, South Dakota), which seeks to eliminate the barriers Native Americans face in achieving a college degree through its Wokini initiative.
"This year's winners are defined by their courage," said the foundation's community innovation director, Mandy Ellerton. "They shake loose solutions to seemingly intractable problems by opening themselves up to surprising partnerships, sharing ownership, and bringing together people who don't always agree. This method of working takes guts, and our region is better because of their courage."
(Photo credit: Hmong American Partnership)