The Otto Bremer Trust experienced an unprecedented call for funding in 2021 as organizations felt the demands of meeting community needs. To help meet those challenges, OBT was able to provide $72.9 million in grants and program-related investments, the highest distribution in our history.
While reflecting on the past year, three qualities come to mind that describe how we adapted our approach to work and witnessed how organizations responded to the ongoing challenges: resilience, adaptability, and collaboration.
We saw the resilience of the people and communities across the region who leaned into the challenges confronting them. At OBT, we remained flexible as we entered the second year of the pandemic. We continued to manage our operations remotely while increasing our grantmaking dollars for the 13th consecutive year, and we made additional grants from the OBT Emergency Fund established in March 2020.
Grantees demonstrated incredible adaptability and worked diligently to meet the needs of their communities and constituents. OBT adapted as well, strategically using grants and PRIs to get funding into the hands of a variety of organizations, including entrepreneurs and small businesses that have struggled with decreased demand, ongoing staffing issues, and supply chain shortages.
Collaboration was key with several institutions that enabled OBT to maximize its investments throughout the community. We continued our work with community development financial institutions (CDFIs) and community development corporations (CDCs) to provide needed long-term capital to regional organizations and entrepreneurs. These partnerships compounded OBT’s impact and allowed us to reach even more people in need.
Resilience. Adaptability. Collaboration. To meet the challenges of 2021, these attributes were key in our work and in the work of the many communities and organizations we supported. As we settle into a new normal, we are energized by the hope, optimism, and determination we see around us.
As we have for the past 77 years, the Otto Bremer Trust is positioned to help navigate what lies ahead.