Community Innovation

Grantee Learning Logs

An important part of creative problem solving are the lessons learned along the way. As a learning organization, we realize how important these discoveries are and have intentionally included time for reflection and sharing as part of how we work. 

In that same spirit, we ask our Community Innovation grantees to share their reflections and learnings through interim and final reports. Their learning logs are a great resource for what went well, what didn't and what others might take away as they work to make our region better for everyone.

Region Five Development Commission

Term: August 01, 2014 - March 31, 2016

To work with 22 rural towns, cataloguing their assets using the Community Capitals Framework: a conceptual model for evaluating a community's overall health and capacity for community and economic development

Anoka-Hennepin School Dist No 11

Term: August 01, 2014 - April 30, 2017

To foster safe and respectful learning environments by hosting conversations with the Anti-Bullying/Anti-Harassment Task Force and by creating a bystander empowerment program

Family Tree Clinic

Term: August 01, 2014 - September 30, 2016

To further the Family Tree Clinic's Trans Health Initiative by partnering with community stakeholders to pilot an informed consent hormone access project to provide high-quality, transgender affirming and affordable health care

Powderhorn Park Neighborhood Association

Term: August 01, 2014 - February 28, 2017

To train neighborhood artists and residents how to employ art and creativity as a strategy for increasing community engagement among underrepresented groups in four intersecting neighborhoods of south Minneapolis

Thunder Valley CDC

Term: August 01, 2014 - September 30, 2016

To co-create the Sustainable Home Ownership Project (SHOP): a workforce development initiative and homeownership system that supports a green construction industry on Pine Ridge

GROW South Dakota

Term: August 01, 2014 - September 30, 2016

To give people of the region a "big picture" view of the area's challenges through conversations and printed media so they are better informed when making decisions that affect their lives

Northeast South Dakota Community Action Program (aka GROW South Dakota)

Term: August 01, 2014 - October 31, 2016

To move rural communities forward by creating opportunities for improved housing stability and economic development

State of Minnesota, Department of Health

Term: August 01, 2014 - September 30, 2017

To bring together diverse stakeholders from medical, insurance, advocacy and cultural communities to create and test maternal health solutions which are accessible, culturally acceptable and financially sustainable

The Arts Center

Term: August 01, 2014 - September 30, 2016

To engage the community in a creative placemaking process that includes artist-led "imagination conversations"

Main Street Square

Term: November 01, 2013 - December 31, 2015

Main Street Square will research, develop and implement a successful community arts collaborative and clearinghouse that will create a sustainable, equitable future for the arts and artists in Rapid City.

Four Bands Community Fund

Term: November 01, 2013 - June 30, 2016

Four Bands Community Fund, of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, will lead a reservation-wide effort to develop and implement a comprehensive workforce development program. Using a combined place- and sector-based approach, Four Bands will provide training opportunities to increase the capacity of individuals to gain meaningful employment while supporting businesses to build their capacity to effectively hire and retain qualified employees.

Northside Economic Opportunity Network

Term: November 01, 2013 - December 31, 2015

NEON will build a broad coalition of organizations dedicated to increasing employment and economic equality for unemployed/underemployed African American males in North Minneapolis. NEON will engage these stakeholders to build a locally-governed entity that reinforces transparency, accountability, results and shared learning about workforce development.

African Immigrant Services

Term: November 01, 2013 - December 31, 2014

African Immigrant Services will use community education and engagement to change the roles of African immigrants and other underrepresented groups in the northwest suburbs of Hennepin County from observers to active leaders. They will also identify and match new leaders with positions in public decision-making bodies in which their roles will help advance racial equity.

First Children's Finance

Term: November 01, 2013 - December 31, 2015

"The >MN Project" will address rural child care issues by developing regional child care plans in partnership with rural communities, creating business tools to sustain local partnerships, and establishing advisory councils to support the implementation of the plans.

Vision Brookings Foundation

Term: November 01, 2013 - February 28, 2015

The "Brookings Visioning Charrette" will provide residents the opportunity to actively participate in planning the future of their community. In addition, a new cohort of community leaders will be developed.


Term: December 01, 2013 - January 31, 2015

Northern is partnering with Minnehaha Creek Watershed District to create a large¬scale, multiplayer, experiential watershed education game. The project will connect local communities through shared game play experiences, emphasizing the interdependent nature of water resources and empowering collective action to promote and protect them.

PACT for Families Collaborative

Term: November 01, 2013 - April 30, 2016

PACT for Families Collaborative will engage truant youth, their parents, education staff and service providers to redesign services and test strategies for positive, sustainable solutions to truancy.

American Indian Science and Engineering Society

Term: November 01, 2013 - December 31, 2015

North Star AISES will support the creation and implementation of a Women's Elder Nibi/Mini Council to uphold the cultural authority of women elders to participate in tribal decisions that impact water on and near reservations in collaboration with scientific experts.

Little Earth Community Partnership

Term: November 01, 2013 - January 31, 2015

The "Little Earth Community Health Initiative" seeks and implements solutions to the underlying causes of chronic health conditions in their urban American Indian community through holistic, community-driven processes and projects. Activities will be co-designed with community stakeholders and will include baseline data collection, appreciative learning journeys, communication strategies and the creation of an evaluation framework.

Men As Peacemakers

Term: November 01, 2013 - December 31, 2015

The "Champion's Initiative" uses athletics as a platform for sexual and domestic violence prevention. It will equip youth athletic coaches with the tools, knowledge, and motivation to role model respect, non-violence, and gender equity.

Community Foundation of Grand Forks, East Grand Forks and Region

Term: November 01, 2013 - December 31, 2015

The ‘NV & Me Project’ will inspire and empower residents to carry out the vision of the North Valley/New Vision 360 process through a micro-grant program and with action teams at various community levels.

United Way of Steele County

Term: November 01, 2013 - December 31, 2015

United Way of Steele County will examine disparities in income, education and health among low-income residents and people of color in Steele County. They will also design and implement a collaborative, multi-sector initiative at the intersection of these disparities to create change in their community.

Northfield Healthy Community Initiative

Term: November 01, 2013 - December 31, 2017

"Northfield Promise" is a collective impact initiative designed to achieve community-level change for children and youth growing up in Northfield. By aligning all the major community institutions around a shared set of measurable benchmarks, assembling diverse action teams, collecting and sharing data, implementing action plans, and sharing progress with community stakeholders, the project seeks to ensure success for all Northfield youth.

REAP Investment Fund Inc

Term: November 01, 2013 - December 31, 2015

The REAP/Vision West North Dakota "Plan Director Supports Project" will support volunteer and paid plan directors in 19 western North Dakota counties to implement new county or tribal strategic plans for addressing challenges caused by the oil boom and for sustaining economic viability following the boom.

Promise Neighborhood of Central Minnesota

Term: December 01, 2013 - December 31, 2015

The Promise Neighborhood – Central Minnesota will lead community engagement and capacity building efforts to achieve educational, economic and community aspirations in the Talahi neighborhood in St. Cloud.

Project Footsteps

Term: November 01, 2013 - December 31, 2014

"Promise!" is a group within Project Footsteps that is creating a movement dedicated to ending teenage homelessness by partnering with agencies that serve this population. "Promise!" intends to create leadership councils with each partnering agency that are comprised of homeless teens who are inspired, empowered and prepared to be agents of change.

OutFront Minnesota Community Services

Term: November 01, 2013 - December 31, 2014

OutFront Minnesota Community Services will work to make schools safe for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth by building community-based leadership teams across the state of Minnesota and organizing a youth summit for youth from across the state to share ideas and strategies for making schools safer.

Saint Paul Art Collective

Term: November 01, 2013 - December 31, 2014

The Saint Paul Art Collective will explore the potential for establishing a community arts center in the Lowertown neighborhood as well as an arts district designation for Lowertown. This exploration will include community engagement, a feasibility study and a report with recommendations for community stakeholders.

Vital Aging Network

Term: November 01, 2013 - December 31, 2016

The Vital Aging Network's Wellness 50+ program will engage and train teams of older adults in four communities across Minnesota to lead community–developed wellness initiatives.

Wagner Area Horizons Team

Term: November 01, 2013 - December 31, 2016

The Wagner Area Horizons Team will engage both Native and non-Native people who live in Wagner on the Yankton Sioux Reservation in a series of conversations and workshops about race. This will include developing and sharing a new curriculum for understanding differences in Native and non-Native leadership.

TakeAction Minnesota Education Fund

Term: November 01, 2013 - December 31, 2015

TakeAction Minnesota will engage Minnesotans to identify problems and actionable solutions for getting the most out of the new MNSure health care system.

Renewing the Countryside

Term: November 01, 2013 - June 30, 2016

Renewing the Countryside II will grow the capacity of our local food system by developing a plan to make farmland more accessible to new and young farmers and supporting new and existing partnerships between food co-op members and farmers.

Fargo-Moorhead Coalition for Homeless Persons

Term: November 01, 2013 - April 30, 2016

The Fargo-Moorhead Coalition for Homeless Persons (in a formal alliance with the North Dakota Coalition for Homeless People, the West Central Minnesota Continuum of Care and multi-state community partners) will create a coordinated assessment and referral system to more effectively assess, shelter and house people who are experiencing or are at risk of homelessness in their community.

Project FINE

Term: November 01, 2013 - December 31, 2015

"Answering the Voices" will connect individuals from the refugee and immigrant community with established residents and local decision-makers to explore community issues and develop innovative solutions for identified needs.

Minnesota Alliance for Volunteer Advancement

Term: November 01, 2013 - December 31, 2015

MAVA will convene conversations with partners, cities, volunteer managers, volunteers and citizens interested in building new strategies to engage a diverse citizenry in community problems. They will develop strategies and curriculum to train cities throughout Minnesota to grow citizen volunteerism in problem solving and public service.

Cleveland Neighborhood Association

Term: November 01, 2013 - December 31, 2015

"Connector Academy and Lab," a project of the Cleveland Neighborhood Association, will train residents to become leaders in their community and make change in their neighborhood. Residents will work together, learn from one another and support one another in creating innovative community-building projects.

Plains Art Museum

Term: November 01, 2013 - December 31, 2015

The "Public Art and Community Engagement Project" will advance the development of vibrant public spaces and public art in Fargo-Moorhead to more strongly connect citizens with the community and each other.

Autism Society of Minnesota

Term: November 01, 2013 - June 30, 2015

The Autism Society of Minnesota will engage public school educators and parents of and students with disabilities to improve student outcomes in employment and post-secondary education.