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West Central Initiative receives $6 million grant

West Central Initiative (WCI) has received a $6 million grant from the McKnight Foundation to support WCI's mission for the next five years.

"Since WCI began in 1986, our mission has been to not simply provide 'band-aids' but figure out ways to help communities prosper," said Nancy Straw, president of WCI. "That means helping businesses grow, creating good-paying jobs and working with communities and area nonprofits to make sure families have the resources to not only survive but thrive."

WCI is a regional community foundation serving the counties of Becker, Clay, Grant, Douglas, Otter Tail, Pope, Stevens, Traverse and Wilkin in west central Minnesota. The McKnight Foundation, a Minnesota-based family foundation, seeks to improve the quality of life for present and future generations by supporting organizations such as WCI.

As WCI celebrates 25 years, its impact on the region includes: 6,600 grants totaling $30.3 million to organizations; 855 loans to businesses totaling $35.9 million; helping create and retain 6,000 jobs; establishing 74 funds for communities, schools, nonprofits and more, with assets of $15 million; and developing a general endowment of more than $22 million.

"We're placing funds where they do the most good for the long run, like investing in new businesses and workforce development, making sure our young children have a strong safety net in which to grow, and helping communities gather the resources they need to become vibrant, healthy places in which to live and work," Straw said.