This past year was significant for the Otto Bremer Trust as we continued to integrate our work at the intersection of finance and philanthropy. Our unique structure as a charitable trust and bank holding company gives us the opportunity to impact communities in a multitude of ways.
We saw evidence of this through the social, financial, and hybrid returns of the more than $48 million in grants and program-related investments we made across Minnesota, North Dakota, and western Wisconsin during the year. Truly, Good Lives Here™.
Our 92 percent owned subsidiary, Bremer Bank—a $12 billion financial institution—is a meaningful economic engine in the three-state region. Our returns from this holding and from a carefully managed investment portfolio provide the financial support that allows OBT to execute our mission of investing in people, places, and opportunities in the Upper Midwest.
These investments are as varied as the regions we serve and provide insight into the models we use for the impactful investments that have been a cornerstone of our approach since our founding in 1944.
Some examples from the past year include:
- Investment in a fund that provides “patient capital” for minority entrepreneurs, until recently a type of investment that was nonexistent. With access to this capital, the intent is to seed economic growth and help build stability in the community.
- Support for a vocational training program that helps low-income women prepare for and secure high-wage jobs in the technical sector.
- Funding to assist Minnesota tribal communities in strengthening their response to homelessness both on and off reservations, while also developing more housing opportunities.
None of this would be possible without the work of our talented staff. Their commitment to listening to the input of our communities and then utilizing the highest quality standards to execute our work continues to provide positive impact for communities and the people within them. We are grateful for their efforts during this and every year.
With the growth of our asset base from $2 million in 1944 to more than $1 billion today, and having distributed over $650 million in grants and program-related investments over that time, we know we have come a long way, but there are many opportunities ahead. We are also aware that as a resource to communities of the Upper Midwest, we are just part of the equation. We welcome and seek conversations with nonprofit organizations, investors, financiers, and government agencies that are interested in exploring ways to help provide unique solutions to the regions’ challenges and opportunities.
As we look forward, we are continuously inspired by the legacy of our founder, Otto Bremer, whose vision for this organization has stood the test of time and has improved the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and their communities.