Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation

A nonprofit organization

192 donors

The Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation joins charitable intentions with community needs. Over $15M of local good since 1994!

The Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation is a public charity serving the Greater Itasca Area in the North Woods of Minnesota.  What does that really mean? In a nutshell, it means we exist to help our friends and neighbors make our local communities better places to live.  We are YOUR foundation and our purpose is to help YOU give back to the communities you love and the causes you believe strongly in.  Too often we think of "philanthropy" as a term reserved for the rich and famous...but in fact a Community Foundation helps anyone be a philanthropist.

 Some examples will help provide perspective.  Here are some examples of "funds" that are having an impact across our area; funds you can be a part of, or funds that might inspire your charitable giving:

The Itasca Area Cancer Crisis Fund was established by a local group of friends struggling with the sadness of a young teacher friend with cancer. These friends were a high-energy bunch, and their first effort to help was to throw a community festival to raise funds for the family to deal with medical costs.  Wow - what a success!  Then a fundraiser hockey game - more success! Then their friend died.  But instead of using her death as a closing to their passion, they decided that the "greater good" was to continue. This group of volunteers realized their successful efforts could help a LOT of people experiencing the challenges of cancer treatment.  So...through various fundraising events each year and with proceeds going directly into the Itasca Area Cancer Crisis Fund at the Community Foundation, they are able to help people with many of the incidental costs that make their lives difficult while undergoing cancer treatments.   To date those grants add up to over $250K towards this very powerful cause!  Community leadership + passion = community good!

 Back in the early 1980s, Jim Tennison and his son, Jamie, were out hunting familiar land.  They both took a different path to get back to that truck that afternoon - but when darkness came on and Jamie never showed, Jim knew something happened. Jamie was no novice to hunting alone, or even to survival in the North Woods, but after days of searching from the land and air, there was still no sign of Jamie.  As a memorial to Jamie and to prevent tragedies like this from occurring again, the Tennisons established the Jamie Tennison Memorial Compass Fund.  This fund provides a liquid-filled compass to every young student completing hunter safety training in Itasca County.

 Jerry and Cathy (Saxhaug) Anderson grew up around Grand Rapids, went off on a successful business career, and eventually settled in the sunny southwest following retirement.  They both appreciate their roots - so much so that they established the Jerry and Cathy (Saxhaug) Anderson Scholarship through the Community Foundation to help students graduating from ISD 318. This generous 4-year scholarship provides the means for many aspiring students to achieve their academic goals and dreams.  But there was more. Jerry stays more connected than most to local news and had read that our area (which has a much higher unemployment rate than the state average) had numerous technical jobs available, but no one to fill those jobs. Born out of that realization was the Workforce Ready Award - a scholarship of sorts to get local students technical training in local 2-year community colleges to fill local jobs.

 The Grand Rapids Farmers' Market Fund provide Mighty Matching Dollar grants for families using EBT cards to purchase fresh, local food at the Grand Rapids Farmer's Market. This program basically doubles (or triples) the buying power for our local neighbors who are challenged to afford healthy food choices for their families.  This fund is a true benchmark for similar programs across the state - a shining example of grass roots leadership creating impact in our communities!

 Harold and Betty Unger loved their community so much so that they named the community as one of their heirs.  In conjunction with a local estate planner, their financial advisor, and the staff here at the Community Foundation, they named the Community Foundation as a benefactor of a portion of their estate.  Part of this arrangement was to pre-establish a fund at the Community Foundation to support (forever!) their passions for pets as well as their passion to help those neighbors in crisis.  The Star of the North Humane Society Endowment as well as a significant gift to the already-established Endowed Sharing Fund will ensure that the legacy of Harold and Betty will live on forever!

   Community Leadership and Legacy through the Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation

Organization Data


Organization name

Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation

Tax id (EIN)



Arts & Culture Education Environment Animals Health Children & Family Community Economic Development Emergencies Ideas


350 NW 1st Ave., Suite E
Grand Rapids, MN 55744



Social Media