News Flash

Wright County News

Posted on: December 20, 2019

WCCA Gets Grant Award From Otto Bremer Trust

For the last 75 years, the Otto Bremer Trust, a philanthropic arm of Bremer Banks, has given out grants to worthy causes in Minnesota, North Dakota and western Wisconsin. Each year, there is a lot of competition for grant funding because the trust, which was founded in 1944, has granted more than $700 million to needy causes.

One of the trust’s 2019 donations came to Wright County Community Action (WCCA) in the amount of $28,879 to expand its administrative and program operations space. 

Wright County Commissioner Charlie Borrell said that an opportunity arose for WCCA to significantly increase its indoor work space and reached out to the Otto Bremer trust to see if it could secure some grant funding for the project.

“Groups like Wright County Community Action depend on getting grant funding to help them with the costs of running the program,” Borrell said. “They have a grant writer in their office and they sent in their proposal to meet the costs of the project they had to connect two buildings.”

The WCCA office is located on West Division Street in Maple Lake and, when the building next door became available for a good price, it was purchased with the intention of doing some minor construction to connect the two buildings to increase the amount of office space.

Candice Zimmermann, the WCCA’s Human Resources and Development Manager, said she was surprised when the award was officially announced. She was told the WCCA project was in the running to receive a grant, but where the surprise came was the amount – which was higher than the initial grant proposal.

“We ended up submitting our proposal and some people from the Bremer Trust came out and visited us,” Zimmerman said said. “After some discussions, we had already moved forward with the blueprints, which could no longer be part of the proposed budget. They said, ‘Why don’t we pay for something else,’ so they actually upped the amount to the $28,879 number. They actually increased our original proposal to that amount.”

The history of the trust’s founder dates back more than 130 years. Otto Bremer came to Minnesota as a German immigrant in 1886 and, through his financial acumen, amassed a significant fortune investing in small rural banks in the Upper Midwest and is the namesake for Bremer Banks, which have numerous branches in Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin. During the Great Depression, Bremer liquidated many of his personal assets to keep capital flowing through these banks to keep them from shutting down as so many other banks did during those hard times. His legacy is honored through The Otto Bremer Trust.

The philanthropy of the trust has assisted thousands of needy individuals, groups and causes. Borrell said he was grateful to see the Otto Bremer Trust include Wright County and the WCCA in its 2019 allocation, both as a member of the WCCA Board of Directors and as a resident of Wright County.

“Wright County Community Action does a lot of great things for those who are the most vulnerable residents in our county and need help the most,” Borrell said. “This grant will help them improve and their office area and give them more space to do their job. You don’t always see generosity like this and it is very gratifying for all of us that Community Action got this grant award.”

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