This research project offers an analysis of the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation’s “One
Big Thing” grantmaking program by evaluating the long-term and tangential impacts of two
organizations funded through this initiative:
1. Southeast Minnesota Together (SE MN Together): a regional collaborative network of
organizations and individuals working to address Southeast Minnesota’s workforce
shortage. One Big Thing funding awarded in 2015.
2. Main Street Project : a poultry-centered regenerative agriculture training center for
immigrant communities interested in agribusiness entrepreneurship in Southern
Minnesota. One Big Thing funding awarded in 2011.
While initial project outcomes were captured in the foundation’s grant evaluation documents,
these organizations continue to build partnerships and positively impact their communities to this
day. In addition to project-based outcomes, this research seeks to better understand the factors
that have contributed to the sustainability of these community-based organizations. To document
stakeholder perspectives on these impacts and organizational sustainability, the following
primary research question was used: How do community stakeholders describe their engagement
with grantee organizations and define the impacts of their work and experiences?
Data was collected through interviews with key stakeholders, document analysis, site visits, and
Ripple Effect Mapping. Together these methods allowed for solicitation of diverse perspectives
and triangulation of findings that no individual method provided alone. Additional information
on research methodology is provided in the full report to give context for analysis and key
findings, research limitations, and for use as a framework to inform future long-term evaluations.
1. Ongoing positive community impacts of One Big Thing grantees extend far beyond the
original scope of the projects.
2. Stakeholders described clear causal relationships between One Big Thing funding and
current operations capacity.
3. Stakeholders reported that engagement with One Big Thing grantees has enhanced their
motivation to personally address community challenges and strengthened their
relationships within the region.
Prepared in partnership with Southern MN Initiative Foundation by the Community Assistantship Program (CAP), which is administered by the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) at the University of Minnesota.
Sustainability of Grant Programs in Southern Minnesota: Revisiting the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation's One Big Thing Grants.
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