COMMUNITY GRANT RECIPIENTS 2018

Anna Marie's Alliance

Anna Marie’s Alliance provides shelter and support services to women and children experiencing domestic abuse. It operates multiple programs to address domestic violence in Central Minnesota, including a 24-hour hotline, children’s program, transitional housing, criminal justice intervention and more. Grant funding from the Affinity Plus Foundation will help Anna Marie’s Alliance to focus on intervention, prevention and advocacy as it relates to safety for all families.
 

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota

Big Brothers Big Sisters provides children facing adversity with strong, professionally-supported one-to-one youth mentoring relationships to make lasting life change. Support from the Affinity Plus Foundation will be directed toward recruiting, screening and training mentors.
 

Boys & Girls Club of the Bemidji Area

The Boys & Girls Club of the Bemidji Area provides after school and summer programs open to all Bemidji area youth, ages 6-18. The Affinity Plus Foundation grant will support its “Money Matters” program, which teaches youth financial responsibility and basic money management skills to build a solid financial future. 
 

Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities

The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities provide a fun, safe and constructive environment for kids and teens during out-of-school hours. Grant dollars from the Affinity Plus Foundation will support the organization’s “Money Matters” financial education program, which teaches money management skills, budgeting, saving, investing saving for college and more.
 

CommunityGiving

CommunityGiving in St. Cloud is the fiscal host of the Jugaad Leadership Program, designed to equip participants with the knowledge, skill sets, and resources to be effective in leading change at the grassroots level. This program attracts minority students, residents, newcomers and professionals by empowering them to be leaders and advocates in their respective communities. The Affinity Plus Foundation grant will support the JLP’s educational series focused on leadership development, financial education, non-profits and intercultural exchanges.
 

Comunidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio (CLUES)

CLUES is an organization that works to empower Latinos and other immigrants by understanding their life circumstances, building upon their skills, and celebrating their drive to create rich, healthy lives for themselves and their families. CLUES services focus on health, wellness, economic vitality and education. The Affinity Plus Foundation grant will support its financial empowerment services, counseling, workshops, tax preparation and more.
 

Exodus Lending

Exodus Lending is a nonprofit dedicated solely to providing trapped Minnesotan borrowers a just pathway out of payday loan debt and toward financial stability. Through this grant from the Affinity Plus Foundation, Exodus Lending will enhance program benefits and continue its strategic expansion efforts beyond the Twin Cities to serve more Minnesotans. 
 

Family Promise Rochester

Family Promise works to provide shelter, stability, skills and support to families facing homelessness. It helps parent seek employment and teaches personal finance, goal-setting, professionalism and personal empowerment. Grant funding from the Affinity Plus Foundation will support the activities of Family Promise, the only family homeless shelter in the greater Rochester Area.
 

Merrick Community Services

Merrick Community Services helps families and individuals access support and find opportunities in the East Side of St. Paul. It offers education, nutrition and social service programs through collaboration with area organizations. Grant funding from the Affinity Plus Foundation will support MCS’s career services program, focused on construction training targeting low-income women in non-traditional trades.
 

Minnesota Council on Economic Education

MCEE aims to equip Minnesotans with the economic and personal financial understanding needed to succeed in today’s complex economy. It does this by teaching teachers, engaging students, and reaching communities. Grand finding from the Affinity Plus Foundation will support MCEE’s Personal Finance Decathlon.

 

 

Cultivator Grant Recipients 2018

Eric Bartosh, Valley Middle School, Apple Valley


Mr. Bartosh of Valley Middle School sees a lack of financial education and instruction in K-12 curriculum. Through use of the Stock Market Game, he hopes to teach his 7th grade students the basics of investing, as well as confidence in managing their finances. The use of this curriculum will support VMS’s "Student Leadership Process" to reinforce connections between personal finance, volunteerism and community outreach. “When students find value and importance in what they do in and out of the classroom, they develop more meaningful relationships. As teachers, our ultimate goal is to prepare our students for the future. Regardless of career pursuits, we want to teach our students that serving others and maintaining a positive interaction with the community benefits everyone.”

 

Matthew Brandt, Park Rapids High School, Park Rapids


At Park Rapids High School, Mr. Brandt is working to implement a program called the Practical Assessment Exploration System, which utilizes hands-on, direct instruction to teach job skills to students with special needs. The program focuses on five main areas, including computer technology, construction/industrial, process/production, consumer/service, and business/marketing. “Being active in the community has a lasting and positive impact on society at large. When students volunteer, it can increase their overall satisfaction of themselves because they are helping others. It can also create bonds with the population being served and increase social awareness and responsibility.”

 

Lori Dornburg, Sartell Middle School, Sartell


As a FACS (Family & Consumer Science) teacher, Ms. Dornburg orchestrates many opportunities for students to participate in community service. Sartell Middle School has six programs that support nursing homes, food shelves, women’s shelters, hospice facilities, halfway houses, public libraries and more. “Engaging students in community service and volunteerism allows students to become active community members by acquiring life skills and knowledge and giving back to people who need it the most. They expand their worldview, develop empathy and leadership skills, and realize how their actions can have a positive impact. Students gain leadership skills, improve self-esteem and hopefully a desire to give back to their community for a lifetime.”

 

Beata Grantier, Paul Bunyan Elementary, Bemidji


As an Early Childhood Education Specialist, Ms. Grantier strives to empower parents and build their capacity to invest in their child's education from birth. She uses the “Growing Brain” curriculum to encourage parents in the first five years of their child’s life and educate them on how to build healthy brains. “Stepping into our community offers us a better understanding of its heartbeat, with all its strengths and weaknesses. A community needs all its players, all its members. We all have a choice; we can be part of the crew or be a passenger. Community outreach, volunteerism, citizenship activities, and civic action makes us part of the crew that builds our community.”

 

Nancy Joa, Pullman Elementary, St. Paul Park


Ms. Joa is building communities and relationships through the Intergenerational Interaction Project. This program partners kindergarten students with elderly people five times per year to interact and learn from one another through games, connections and conversations. The students will have the opportunity to develop their social and emotional skills through these interactions. “Our young students will receive the attention and a positive role model. The older adults will have the opportunity to receive a new vision of the world through the eyes of our young children.”

 

Kristi Person, Lionsgate Academy, Minnetonka


Providing foundational education and real-world skills is the focus of Ms. Person’s unique programming for students on the autism spectrum. As a business teacher, she aims to teach life skills through a school store and student-run coffee shop. “Studies have shown that people living with autism spectrum disorders who have a job in high school are more independent for the rest of their lives. [We want to] impact those students and their ability to become gainfully-employed at a younger age, which will benefit them for their life time, and also will help their parents and families as they seek to help their student be independent and contribute to society as much as possible.”

 

Heather Redinger, Friendship Academy of the Arts, Minneapolis


Through unique programming at Friendship Academy of the Arts that incorporates projects, community art events, and local artists, Ms. Redinger will demonstrate the importance of being an impactful member of society. Students will have the opportunity to work with local artists to learn, share life experiences, explore art and become contributing members of society. “It is important for students to engage in community outreach, volunteerism, and citizenship activities because students’ education is not limited to mere academics. Social and emotional growth and development are also an essential part to forming our future members of society. As a teacher, one of my main goals is to form lifelong learners who are well-rounded citizens.”

 

Greg Spanier, Cold Spring Elementary School, Cold Spring


Home-grown values are the focus of Mr. Spanier’s unique educational platform at ROCORI Elementary School. His 4th grade students cultivate the school’s community garden, where they learn not only about horticulture, but they learn how the food they grow supports the local food shelf and the school. “Community is the core of our culture at ROCORI. It is important for our students to learn that volunteering and giving back to the community that supports them completes the circle of community outreach. It needs to be taught at a younger level.”

 

Ruth Tatter, Edna Murphy Elementary, Grand Rapids


At Edna Murphy Elementary, Ms. Tatter’s school garden project allows for students to be directly involved in improving the community surrounding their school. Students work alongside members of the local neighborhood to tend the garden, allowing them to experience being part of something bigger while also learning about nutrition and healthy eating. Not only does the school garden support the local food bank, it also plans to add a composting component to its program next year to teach students about food waste and environmental impacts. “We believe this project helps students develop the capacity to feel more socially-responsible for their community, while seeing how their choices and actions can affect themselves and the world around them.”

 

Heather Tran, A Better Society Project, Chanhassen


Project Impact is a program created by A Better Society to be an online resource for families, teachers, schools, youth service organizations, and communities to successfully develop meaningful service projects with authentic local and global needs. This comprehensive program provides community members of all ages with the knowledge, tools and support to successfully complete their own service projects and to impact causes they are passionate about. Project Impact provides students with the framework to carry out service projects with increasing independence as they grow through their school years and eventually becoming adult contributors to society. “Engaging students of all ages in service learning is imperative to their becoming active members of their community and the world. Enabling and empowering students to explore a variety of causes and to connect with individuals and organizations that speak to their passion will provide students with an authentic and personal opportunity to make a difference.”