A Community Thrives: Herald-Dispatch calls for applications in crowdfunding/grant program

Deb Moldaschel
USA Today Network

The pandemic has created financial challenges for many nonprofits and municipal organizations working to helping their communities. 

Groups can get a helping hand this year by applying to the 2021 A Community Thrives program, a $2.3 million initiative of the Gannett Foundation. The program is sponsored by Gannett, the Sleepy Eye Herald-Dispatch's parent company, and is marking its fifth year supporting groups that address social issues. 

Applications are now open for organizations to apply to help a specific project. They’ll first raise money on their own through crowdfunding campaigns, then they'll be eligible for one of 15 national grants of up to $100,000. Separate incentives aimed at rewarding high-fundraising projects are also being offered.

In just the past two years, Minnesota nonprofits have received $145,000 from the A Community Thrives program. 

For example, the Crow River Trail Guards in Paynesville received a 2019 $5,000 Local Merit Grant for its work providing youth programming that emphasizes personal development through "managed challenges" in the outdoors. The Trail Guards planned to use its $5,000 ACT grant to cover trip costs for the youth programs.

“A Community Thrives is an opportunity for Gannett to raise up local ideas and community needs by providing nonprofit organizations with visibility, grants and exposure to new donors,” said Sue Madden, Director of the Gannett Foundation.  

Projects will be eligible for hundreds of community operating grants starting at $2,500, chosen by leaders across Gannett's nationwide USA TODAY Network of more than 250 news sites in 46 states. Organizations that focus on building up historically under-resourced and underserved groups will be specially considered.

Why raise money for local communities? 

Journalists in the USA TODAY Network are telling local stories and regularly hear amazing ideas to improve American communities – which helped inspire the creation of A Community Thrives.  

Central to A Community Thrives, and Gannett Foundation, is this elevation of local nonprofit groups and communities, Gannett CEO Mike Reed said.  

“Our driving mission is to empower our communities. It’s at the core of what we do,” Reed said. “The strength of our network gives us the ability to support local efforts across the country, particularly underserved groups.” 

Since 2017, A Community Thrives has distributed $12 million in grants and donations to community-based organizations across the USA.  

This year, organizations can apply until June 30 at acommunitythrives.mightycause.com. Recipients will be announced Sept. 30.

Those who want to participate but don't have a project can donate starting July 19 to Aug. 13. Organizations and their projects will be posted to the site on those dates, and people can donate to nonprofit groups by searching their location or a mission category. 

To learn about all the 2020 A Community Thrives grant recipients, go to www.gannettfoundation.org/act/

Contributing writers: Lisa Schwarz, St. Cloud Times, Deb Moldaschel, Sleepy Eye Herald-Dispatch, and Elinor Aspegren, Joel Shannon, and Morgan Hines, USA TODAY.