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Initiative Foundation

After the rural crisis of the 1980s, the McKnight Foundation established and provided seed funding for a half-dozen rural foundations in Minnesota, based on the philosophy that the economy, community, and philanthropy are interconnected. Each of the foundations is slightly different, but they all do business lending and economic development, and three have been certified as CDFIs. Their aim is creating and retaining quality jobs. Initiative Foundation is one of the six. Among its activities, it does business finance, grant making, environmental work, community economic planning, and nonprofit capacity building—helping communities do visioning and run asset inventories, and helping nonprofits develop social enterprises and new business models. The foundation offers loan funds for a wide range of businesses, from value-added agriculture and manufacturing companies to social enterprises. Businesses are able to receive up to $5,000 to cover technical assistance needs. Since 1986, the six Minnesota Initiative Foundations combined have invested $231.8 million in private businesses, which leveraged $1.275 billion, securing more than 43,600 living wage jobs.

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