Wadena County has received over $9 million from Initiative Foundation

The funds have been made possible through donations made in the county since 1986.

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WADENA — Since 1986, Wadena County has received more than $9 million in grants and loans from the Initiative Foundation (IF) while putting in $3.3 million in local donations themselves.

That impressive number was shared by Carl Newbanks, IF Grants & Development Manager during the regular Wadena County board meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 4.

Newbanks explained that for every dollar that the county has added to the pot, they’ve had a return of $2.75.


Newbanks explained that while they have the ability to funnel funds to those in need they also offer classes to help non-profit organizations learn the skills they need to do fundraising of their own.

Since 1986 in Wadena County, the Initiative Foundation has:

  • Delivered 289 grants totaling $4.4 million,
  • Partnered on 75 loans totaling $2.96 million,
  • Created or retained 955 quality jobs,
  • Leveraged $22.8 million in outside capital,
  • Hosted 4 Partner Funds.

    In more recent years:

  • Through the Initiative Foundation Partner Fund, the Friends of the Wadena Library had a place to raise $1.2 million towards the $2.7 million new library that is soon to open.
  • A grant was provided to fix broken freezers at the Verndale Grocery & Treasures, Too.
  • A grant was provided to allow the Wadena Development Authority and Little Round Still to bring on a Lead for Minnesota felllow to research ways to bring more artisan businesses to town.
  • A grant from the Staples Motley Area Community Foundation and an Initiative Foundation Partner Fund helped pay for students to go on college visits.

Newbanks explained that the IF has a hope of empowering businesses to stay in rural communities.
Newbanks explained that emergency relief and recovery grants came in from 2020- June 30, 2022 and included about 48 grants totaling $322,000.

Commissioners expressed gratitude for the work IF is doing in the community.

The recipient of the most funds from 2019-2022, Verndale Family Life Church, came through the Artesian Homes Charitable Fund. They received $145,000 for general operating support including for its Verndale Area Christian Academy.

Newbanks said that the biggest struggle of the organization is keeping people informed about how they can help them.

To find out more, visit or call (877) 632-9255.

Michael Johnson is the news editor for Agweek. He lives in the city of Verndale, Minn., but is bent on making it as country as he can until he returns once more to the farm living he enjoys. Also living the dream are his two children and wife.
You can reach Michael at or 218-640-2312.
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