Region Five Development Commission (R5DC) was awarded $45,700 in 2019 Innovation Funding from Sourcewell for R5DC’s Regional Yellow Ribbon Program. This comprehensive program creates awareness for the purpose of connecting service members, veterans and their families with community. It is designed to create efficiencies within the region by synchronizing community, county and company resources between and within the five-county region.

At the monthly Regional Yellow Ribbon meeting held in January, the City of Menahga was presented with a check for $10,000 to use towards the veteran’s section addition of Menahga City Cemetery.

Region Five counties also received money to be used to fund a regional Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Coordinator, according to Wadena County Veteran's Service Officer David Anderson. This regional coordinator would lead the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon programs locally and improve the networking capabilities of the program locally and beyond. Anderson also mentioned Wadena County received $4,000 in funds, which they will likely be using to help fix a roof of a veteran's widow. Anderson said there's already a plan in place to start the cemetery expansion in the spring.

Sourcewell Manager of Community Solutions Anna Gruber said the Innovation Funding program was created in 2014 to help public agencies in Region 5 fund initiatives aimed at producing collaboration and improving the region. The annual program promotes outside-the-box teamwork on projects that might not otherwise come to fruition.

Since 2014-15, local government, schools, and nonprofits across the Sourcewell region have used more than $10 million through the Innovation Funding program to boost student and community success. The 2020 Innovation Funding application process for local governments and nonprofits is open now through May 6, 2020. This year will mark the sixth-consecutive year that city and county entities within Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, Todd, and Wadena counties (Region 5) have the opportunity to partner with Sourcewell and make special projects and initiatives come to life.

This unique funding opportunity includes an Innovation Funding Review Day when representatives from Region 5 entities attend a day-long, priority setting and application review to rank and select awarded projects. Gruber emphasized that Sourcewell does not select projects. Voting is done by Region 5 cities, counties, and other government associations in attendance. Review Day for 2020 will take place on June 10 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Sourcewelll's campus in Staples. To learn more about the Regional Yellow Ribbon Program, contact Staci Headley at sheadly@regionfive.org or 218-894-3233. Learn how Sourcewell is reinvesting in communities at sourcewell.co/reinvesting.