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Community Assistantship Program Receives Blandin and McKnight Foundation Grants

December 15, 2007
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The Community Assistantship Program (CAP), which provides student research assistance to communities in Greater Minnesota, was recently awarded grants from the Blandin Foundation and McKnight Foundation. These grants, totaling $75,000, provide much-needed financial support for the program, as well as several new opportunities.

Like CURA’s other community-based research programs, CAP responds to community requests with roughly 200 hours of support for a University graduate or undergraduate student during a single semester (260 hours in the summer). Projects typically have a clear product that will be used to achieve an organizational goal or a greater good in the community. Unlike other CURA programs, CAP focuses on communities outside the seven-county metropolitan area, supports local government as well as nonprofit requests for assistance, and employs students from the University of Minnesota coordinate campuses in Crookston, Duluth, and Morris in addition to those from the Twin Cities campuses. In a typical year, CAP supports 20 or more such projects.

The most recent Blandin Foundation grant was awarded earlier this year in June. The $15,000 grant is targeted for use in rural communities, so funds cannot be used for projects in any of the state’s larger cities. The focus of the grant is on projects that build stronger local economies. This includes projects that

  • improve individual skills and thereby increase earning power;

  • grow markets for local products and services sold outside the region, thereby bringing new dollars into the region
  • enhance or preserve natural and cultural amenities that attract outsiders to visit the region and spend money here; or
  • reduce expenditures on goods and services, especially those that are purchased from outside the region.

A recent McKnight Foundation grant for $60,000 awarded in December adds two new aspects to CAP. First, funded projects must support the interests of one or more Minnesota Initiative Foundations (MIFs). Six MIFs cover Greater Minnesota. They were created by the McKnight Foundation in 1986, but are independent, nonprofit, philanthropic organizations aimed at strengthening their part of the state. Second, McKnight funding allows CAP to expand the student resource pool to include students from the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system. The primary connections will be with MnSCU’s four-year and graduate campuses in Bemidji, Mankato, Marshall, Moorhead, St. Cloud, and Winona.

To learn more about CAP, or for application deadlines and procedures, visit CAP on the web or contact program coordinator Will Craig at 612-625-3321 or capcura@umn.edu.