Better Communities Grants

The Grant Distribution Committee is currently investigating grant requests for the second grant cycle from the Better Communities Fund in 2016. Grants from the Rochester Area Foundation are supported by the Better Communities Fund with support from individual funds held at the foundation.


Proposals are under consideration from 12 outstanding nonprofit organizations in our area:

Apple Tree Dental, a nonprofit community clinic and critical access provider, is requesting a grant to support its Special Care Project to create a continuing education program for their Rochester Center staff and community partners; provide unique equipment and supplies required to treat clients with special needs; and support uncompensated costs for providing service to special needs clients. This project helps to support the growing number of special needs patients visiting the clinic each year who require essential services.

Bear Creek Services, currently operating group homes, apartments, and Independent Living Services (BCILS) in Rochester for individuals with developmental disabilities or brain injury, is requesting a grant to open an additional training apartment. These training apartments allow disabled clients to master necessary living skills to graduate to independent living. Expenses to open an apartment include staff training, equipment rental, and apartment furnishings.

Channel One Regional Food Bank serves at-risk, low-income individuals of all ages and ethnic backgrounds in 14 counties in our area. It is requesting a grant to support Backpack Program services for 957 at-risk students in 22 Rochester public elementary and middle schools. Nutritious, child-friendly food is packed into nondescript backpacks and delivered to partner school before each weekend so that children can go home with nutritious food.

Community Dental Care currently runs a 6-operatory dental clinic in Rochester offering services for low-income, uninsured adults and children. CDC is requesting a grant for equipment to expand their capacity to a second clinic in Rochester. Once capital expansion is completed, access will be available to 10,000 unduplicated patients throughout our area.

Exercisabilities, a physical therapy nonprofit focusing on geriatric wellness and neurologic recovery, provides unique services tailored to clients who are otherwise unable to use traditional service programs because they are uninsured or require special equipment for access.  Exercisabilities is requesting a grant to purchase a Medbike to assist clients who have neurologic diagnoses including Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, or other movement disorders.

Ironwood Springs Christian Ranch is a camp/retreat center for disabled youth and families that serves about 24,000 people annually with a mini-farm which is popular in its programming. The mini-farm is not handicapped accessible because it is a quarter mile from the main facilities. Ironwood is requesting a grant for 200 tons of asphalt to pave a walkway for disabled clients.

Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans serves positively motivated veterans and their families who are homeless, at risk of becoming homeless, or experiencing other life crises. Last year, MACV served 79 veterans in Olmsted County and 392 veterans out of its Mankato office that covers the Rochester area. MACV is requesting a grant for program support for case management, direct assistance, transitional housing, employment assistance, and legal services.

The Positive Behavior Intervention Support Project at John Marshall Senior High School is a pilot program using a school-wide tiered approach for rewarding, supporting, and teaching positive behavioral choices for students. PBIS is requesting a grant for “Rocket Bank/Moola” reward tickets for teachers to distribute in the program to recognize expected student behaviors, motivate students to be successful, and increase a sense of student belonging.

Project Get Outdoors facilitates outdoor experiences for low-income, underserved youth who would not otherwise have access to nature and outdoor education. It does this through accessible training, resources, equipment and supplies for youth-serving community organizations throughout the area. Project GO is requesting a grant to equip 50 Activity Backpacks to support its programming.

Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services provides a full range of high quality free legal services to low-income clients to enforce their legal rights, obtain access to the justice system, and assure equal opportunity. SMRLS is requesting a grant for its Rochester-based office to supplement free legal assistance in housing cases through a rent deposit escrow bank required by clients to mount a legal defense versus landlords to preserve their rental housing units as affordable housing.

The Rochester Reading Champions Program is an innovative program that builds tutoring capacity for struggling youth and adult readers in Olmsted County through one-on-one skilled instruction. Since reading is a core component for learning, new reading skills impact social connections, academic success, graduation rates, and job opportunities. RRC is requesting a grant for training and supplies, student assessment, and program outreach.

The Kindness Project is a joint project sponsored by Rochester Public Schools, the Juvenile Probation Department, the Rochester Phoenix Academy, and Family Service Rochester. Research shows that juvenile inmates have a 54% lower recidivism rate if they receive literacy help, and yet they are among the least-served literacy populations. The Kindness Project is requesting a grant to purchase specialty books for a library at the JDC to serve 500 youth annually. Teens at the Rochester Phoenix Academy have already built 5 book shelves in support of this project.