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GRAND RAPIDS (December 15, 2014) – The United Way of 1000 Lakes announces the beginning of its 2015-17 grant funding cycle. Every two years, the organization welcomes new and existing programs to apply for Community Investment Funding in the areas of education, financial stability, and health. 

“We work diligently to understand and measure the needs of our community and its people,” noted Kimberly Brink Smith United Way executive director. “Using locally raised dollars, United Way will invest in programs and initiatives that offer long-term solutions around community-wide issues and help to improve the lives of our residents by teaching, promoting and encouraging self sufficiency.” 

Eligibility is open to any non-profit organization or agency with 501 (c) (3) status serving the greater Itasca Area. Qualified organizations can find and download grant applications at 

Application deadline is 4 p.m. on January 15, 2014. Those awarded funding will receive support for two fiscal years beginning on July 1, 2015. The amount of funding committed is contingent on United Way’s fundraising results.

The fund distribution is not driven by United Way administrators, but a citizen review process. United Way relies on almost 35 concerned citizens to help make decisions about what community programs and services should receive the money raised. Between the months of February and April these citizens attend training; visit the program sites and talk with agency staff, leadership and program participants; review budgets and evaluate program impact; and make funding recommendations to the United Way board of directors. The board, also composed of volunteers, makes the final decisions.

In addition to the funding given to area organizations, the United Way coordinates the Giving With Class youth philanthropy project; the annual Day of Action (county-wide day of service on June 19, 2015) and Personal Care Product Drive. In addition, United Way sponsors the Bright Red Bookshelf early literacy program; and is a partner of the Itasca Area Initiative for Student Success.

If you would like more information about obtaining funding from United Way of 1000 Lakes or to volunteer for the Community Investment Process, contact Kimberly Brink Smith at 218-999-7570 or email

Sidebar: Throughout the region, United Way of 1000 Lakes is working to find solutions. By engaging in collaborative projects such as the Housing Issues Advisory Committee (HIAC), supporting community partnerships such as Itasca Area Initiative for Student Success and funding First Call/United Way 2-1-1 to connect residents with help, United Way is not only providing immediate assistance, but working to prevent homelessness, increase graduation rates, and keep children and adults healthy.

But United Way’s work doesn’t happen without your support. As you plan for the holidays, please remember your neighbors in need. Consider donating warm cloths to your local closet or volunteering to serve or package meals for families, or make a gift to the Community Investment Fund to support United Way’s year-round efforts. No amount is too small to impact the community. A tax-deductable gift can be made online at or by mailing a check to 350 NW 1st Ave., Suite A, Grand Rapids MN  55744.

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