Annual Letter from the Trustees
We are pleased to provide this report on the Otto Bremer Foundation's activities over the last year. The Foundation's success is due in large part to its long-term investment in Bremer Financial Corporation.
This legacy from Otto Bremer has provided a steady stream of dividends that fund the Foundation's grantmaking activities. The continued growth of Bremer banks has allowed the Foundation's grant awards to grow exponentially over nearly seven decades.
After a year of strategic planning in 2010, the Otto Bremer Foundation turned to implementation in 2011. As we reported last year, by the end of 2010 we had reaffirmed our vision and mission and our ongoing commitment to Bremer communities, now expanded to include Owatonna and Mankato, Minnesota, and Bismarck, North Dakota. In 2011, we were ready to translate our words into actions and begin transforming our broad vision into reality. As we made changes, we continuously monitored the effect of our actions to ensure that we were moving toward our short- and long-term objectives.
We developed several new communications. The Foundation's Mission and Meaning statement articulates our definition of healthy communities and highlights factors shared by vibrant communities. The Grantmaking Overview and grant application documents expand upon conventional grant guidelines, asking grant seekers to consider and explain how their organization and proposed work move their community forward. We provide additional information to help grant applicants understand the grant application process and specific requirements, limits and deadlines. All of this information is part of this newly updated website.
In 2012, we are unveiling our new logo, a visual articulation of the Foundation's message. The logo, which incorporates the forward-leaning signature of Otto Bremer, honors our founder, reminds us of our history and helps to connect current and future actions to that history. The signature and color communicate energy, movement and vibrancy, suggesting our vision for Bremer communities and our active, involved and optimistic role in helping to create a positive future.
The strategic planning process gave clarity to the Foundation's challenge of funding in multiple communities across three states and devising a grant review process that is both responsive and efficient. We now dedicate two of the six annual grant rounds to applications from the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area, with the remaining four rounds open to applicants from the greater Bremer region. This schedule change allows us to give concentrated focus to the large metropolitan area while helping to ensure that staff have sufficient time to travel throughout the region to meet with applicants.
Recognizing the slow pace of economic recovery over the last few years, we committed approximately $7.9 million in 2011 to help meet basic needs throughout the region. These grants supported a spectrum of projects and programs that offered immediate relief or provided services to end the cycle of poverty.
Moving from a strategic vision to an action plan takes time. We will meet our goals only if we continually assess and evaluate both internal processes and the results of our investments in and partnerships with community organizations. We continue to develop both an evaluation process and a data-collection system that will help us learn from individual communities, understand topical issues and identify strong community partners.
Thank you for your interest in our work and for your part in building healthy communities.
Charlotte S. Johnson
Daniel C. Reardon