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Bush Prizes reward innovative community organizations in Minnesota and Dakotas

Ten community organizations, including four in Minnesota and three each in North and South Dakota, have received Bush Prizes for their innovative and inclusive work.

The Bush Foundation awarded the prizes, which come with an unrestricted grant equal to 25 percent of the winning organization’s prior budget, up to $500,000. The winners also get promotional support and materials.

The foundation says the winners were chosen for:

” … innovations that have been developed through inclusive, collaborative processes focused on making the most of community assets, and that are more effective, equitable or sustainable than existing approaches.”

The winners, with the foundation’s descriptions of their achievents, are:


  • Breaking Free – St. Paul, Minneapolis and Rochester. Led and driven by women who are survivors of prostitution and sexual exploitation, Breaking Free has helped more than 6,000 women and girls escape sex trafficking, breaking a cycle of poverty, addiction, rape, abuse and degradation that often passes from one generation to the next.
  • Cannon River Watershed Partnership (CRWP) – Northfield. CRWP has prevented 94 million gallons of untreated sewage from entering the state’s rivers and streams over the past decade through its collaborative work that brings residents and waste water professionals together in 21 southeast Minnesota communities.
  • Lanesboro Arts – Lanesboro. Lanesboro Arts developed through an extensive and inclusive community-wide planning process, Lanesboro Arts has played a major role in revitalizing a small town on the Root River in southeast Minnesota and has become a national model for arts-focused rural development.
  • Native American Community Development Institute (NACDI) – Minneapolis. The only entity of its kind in the country, NACDI employs an asset-building approach to reposition the American Indian community in Hennepin County as an engine of economic growth. Its work has spawned home ownership opportunities, youth entrepreneurship training, and creation of the American Indian Cultural Corridor along Franklin Avenue.

North Dakota

  • Community of Care – Arthur. Ensuring that rural, older residents can “age in place” is the work of Community of Care, whose model has proven to save money, reduce isolation, promote wellness and provide a promising solution for similar rural communities.
  • Domestic Violence Crisis Center (DVCC) – Minot. To meet the escalating demand for its services brought on by increases in the population associated with the oil boom, DVCC has tripled the number of families it can serve through establishment of its multi-service New Beginnings Campus.
  • Legal Services of North Dakota (LSND) – Bismarck. LSND has increased legal service delivery for low-income, disadvantaged and elderly populations across North Dakota by transforming its chaotic intake process into a nationally recognized, streamlined system.

South Dakota

  • Destination Rapid City – Rapid City. Through the creation of Main Street Square, Destination Rapid City has transformed downtown Rapid City from a collection of empty storefronts and porn shops to a beautiful, buzzing village green that has revitalized the business community and welcomed hundreds of visitors with family-oriented events and activities.
  •  Face It TOGETHER Sioux Falls  – Sioux Falls. This revolutionary, highly collaborative, community-based strategy helps people with drug and alcohol addiction get well through a non-clinical, peer-to-peer addiction management support that is privately sustained by area employers.
  • First Peoples Fund – Rapid City. First Peoples Fund empowers Native artists to be tradition bearers and leaders of social change in their communities through a combination of financial support, entrepreneurship opportunities and mentoring. The program helps revitalize cultures while providing artists with tools to emerge from poverty.

This year, 164 organizations applied for the Bush Prize; panels of community members within each of the three states chose the winners.

 Mandy Ellerton, Bush Foundation Community Innovation Manager, said:

“Bush Prize winners are deeply invested in new ideas, new ways of approaching problems and new ways of involving the community. Their track records speak volumes, and we look forward to seeing what their continued creativity and leadership can mean for the future of their communities.”

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