January 2019
Anyone who knows me, knows that I love living in southern Minnesota and that there are many reasons why I choose to stay here. As the president of Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF), I can’t imagine a better way to serve this region which has always been my home.

As I travel throughout the area I have the pleasure of visiting with many partners and hearing their hopes and dreams for their communities. People live here because of family, work, good schools, open spaces and beautiful landscape. They stay here because there is a common vision for a future that embraces change, diversity and innovation.

This commitment to a bright future for our children, business owners, small towns, and new immigrants directly connects to the work that we do at SMIF in Early Childhood, Economic Development and Community Vitality.

There are so many reasons why people love living here, and at SMIF we are infusing that theme into the work we do over the next few years as we embark on a $3.5 million “ Love Where You Live” endowment campaign to strengthen our region’s future. We believe this theme gets at the root of everything we do at SMIF. This campaign will allow us to support more entrepreneurs, prepare more children for their future, and increase financial investments in our communities, putting SMIF in a position to continue making this region a place people want to call home.

To support our campaign, go to www.smifoundation.org/lovewhereyoulive .
Lifelong Learning
Peggy Decker worked as a pediatrician in Red Wing for 22 years. After an early retirement from the Mayo Clinic in 2016, she learned about SMIF’s AmeriCorps LEAP (Learning Early Achieves Potential) Initiative.

She felt like this was exactly what she wanted to do next – combining service, early intervention and addressing inequalities in academic achievement through a new lens of social emotional learning. “AmeriCorps has provided a structured way for me to explore something new and different,” she said. “For anyone who is thinking about a career change or ending a very demanding career, AmeriCorps is a great bridge.”

AmeriCorps LEAP Initiative members serve in preschool classrooms and nonprofit organizations focused on the social and emotional development of young children in SMIF’s 20-county region. Members work one-on-one and in small groups with young children, ages 3-5, building social and emotional proficiencies to prepare for kindergarten success.

Decker works in the mornings doing half time AmeriCorps service in the Cannon Falls Preschool. Her pediatric skills are still very much at work in this new role. “I listen carefully, I observe closely, and I try to make important things look like play,” she said. “I teach children how their brains and bodies work when they have strong feelings and what they can do with them.”

For Decker, her AmeriCorps experience has been a natural next step for her life, and she is enjoying the opportunity to serve in this new capacity. “It’s hard to have a bad day when a four-year-old gives you a hug.”

We are now recruiting for the 2019 - 2020 service term! Apply here .
Second Quarter Loans l  See Our Business Resources
Advantage Cabinets, Inc., Owatonna | Custom cabinet manufacturer
Amber Patterson Design Company LLC, Mankato | Interior design services & products
Austin BioSciences LLC,** Austin | Medical diagnostic company focused on cancer detection
Bio-Plastic Solutions LLC, Ellendale | Plastic extrusion & molding
Checkmeet Local LLC,** Northfield | Social application that helps small businesses and people communicate in a local area
EJ Mushrooms LLC,* Kasota | Mushroom farm
GoRout (Repetix LLC),** Rochester | An on-field visual display device for football
Greenway Home Improvement, Faribault | Remodeling, building & handyman services
Heartland Retreat & Rental Hall LLC, Elmore | Retreat center & rental hall
Live, Give, Save, Inc.,** Red Wing | Mobile app to empower & reward consumers to spend wisely
Maple Island, Inc., Wanamingo | Co-packer of powder foods
Marblehead Medical LLC,** Rochester | Develops flow-arrest catheters
New Identity Barber Shop, Mankato | Barber Shop
Shawarmania LLC, Mankato | Mediterranean grill

*Grow a Farmer Fund
**SEED Fund Investment
Early Childhood Grants: $120,490 to seven organizations
Economic Development Grants: $33,900 to four organizations
Opportunity Grant: $26,000 to one organization
Community Growth Initiative (CGI): Winnebago became our 34th CGI
Upcoming Deadlines
Upcoming Events
NEW Regional Sprout! Events
We are excited to announce that this spring we will be holding new events in the four corners of our region. These Sprout! events are a great opportunity to connect with others from the region, hear stories from people who have received grants, loans, or other programming, and to discover the many resources that we have to offer you and your community (and "sprout" new ideas!).

All events are an open house from 4:30-6:30 pm with a short program highlighting our partners. This event is free and everyone is welcome, both new friends and old. Light hors d'oeuvres will be served. Join us at the date and location that works for you!
April 23 - Cannon Falls, Cannon River Winery
April 25 - Spring Valley, Four Daughters Vineyard & Winery
April 30 - Kasota, Chankaska Creek Ranch & Winery
May 2 - Fairmont, Red Rock Center for the Arts
Quality Child Care Trainings
Save the Dates!

New Ulm, April 9
Byron, April 16

Learn more about business practices, professional development and Parent Aware in your community. Join us for FREE quality child care trainings this spring.
Conscious Discipline
Save the Dates!

An Introduction: June 26 - 27
Digging Deeper: July 24 - 25
Owatonna High School

Back by popular demand, we will be hosting TWO Conscious Discipline sessions this summer.

Watch the video to see how this course has impacted regional early childhood educators.
Did you know? An IRA charitable rollover is one way you can support our mission or a local community foundation using all, or a part, of your Required Minimum Distribution. Visit smiflegacy.org to learn more.
Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation | 507-455-3215 | www.smifoundation.org