Five Fergus Falls organizations received six grants totaling $146,949 in 2020 from the Otto Bremer Trust.

Greater Fergus Falls was one of the recipients and the $50,000 grant it received was a great shot in the arm for the Fergus Falls nonprofit.

“We are extremely appreciative of our recent Otto Bremer Trust award. OBT’s mission of investing in people, places and opportunities in the Upper Midwest greatly compliments our mission of growing our area’s business community in the Fergus Falls region,” Greater Fergus Falls executive director, Annie Deckert said Friday. “OTB’s continued investment in Greater Fergus Falls allows us to further advance our economic development efforts, while continuing to work diligently and strategically to support our existing businesses and startup entrepreneurs.  It also allows us to provide the technical assistance and outreach necessary to continue expanding our area’s tax base and available job opportunities.”

Another Fergus Falls nonprofit receiving a five-figure grant was Habitat for Humanity.

Stan Carignan, the executive director of Fergus Falls Area Habitat for Humanity, said Friday the $35,000 grant from Bremer is part of a two-year contribution from Bremer that has helped the organization add two important staff members — community outreach director Paul Shol and construction manager Chuck Brasel.

“It was a capacity development grant,” Carignan said. “The purpose of a capacity development is for all small nonprofits like us which suffer from a ‘chicken or the egg,’” Carignan said. “If we raise $50,000 those donors inevitably want to see all that money go into building a house for that family, because that is our mission. Then we don’t have any money to hire staff in order to build more houses.”

Carignan said securing a grant from Bremer Trust has been a way of building the organization.

“This was a way for the last couple of years we could take most of our donations and put them into houses and then the Otto Bremer money helped us pay for the staff,” Carignan said. “Although we build the houses with many different volunteers without paid staff it would be almost impossible to exist.”

Speaking on behalf of Fergus Falls Area Habitat for Humanity Carignan said: “We are extremely grateful to Otto Bremer Trust and everything they do in their territory that helps nonprofits like us.”

Carignan said the Otto Bremer money has put new life into the organization’s committee structure.

“One of the big catch phrases is that ‘you can’t fire a cannon from a canoe,’” Carignan said.

Other Fergus Falls nonprofits receiving Bremer Trust grants included the Fergus Falls Area Family YMCA, the Fergus Falls Housing and Redevelopment Authority and Someplace Safe.

The Otto Bremer Trust (OBT) invested $71,289,332 in grants and program-related investments in 2020 to help more than 900 organizations in Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and Wisconsin.


Otto Bremer Trust grants to Fergus Falls Nonprofits (2020)

• Fergus Falls Area Family YMCA:  $6,949 grant to upgrade security system.

• Fergus Falls Area Family YMCA:  $15,000 COVD-19 emergency grant.

• Fergus Falls Habitat for Humanity:  $35,000 grant to build volunteers, fundraising and construction capacity. 

• Fergus Falls Housing & Redevelopment Authority:  $30,000 grant for affordable housing and wrap-around services to people with chronic mental health or substance abuse issues.

• Greater Fergus Falls Corporation: $50,000 grant for general operations to support economic development through business expansion and technical assistance to early stage entrepreneurs in the Fergus Falls area.

• Someplace Safe, Fergus Falls:  $10,000 COVD-19, emergency grant.

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