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A $500,000 Grant To Help Those in MN's Poorest Counties

April 2, 2012

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Some help is on the way for Minnesotans struggling with poverty, thanks to a half-million-dollar grant from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation, made to the Minnesota Community Action Association Resource Fund.

Neal Steffl, executive director of the Southwestern Minnesota Opportunity Council, says the grant funds will go to eight of the Minnesota Community Action agencies across the state.

"They will be using that money for a number of efforts, ranging from homelessness assistance, food assistance, transportation, any number of needs that the low-income people in their counties are facing right now."

Steffl says the agencies sharing in the funds serve 39 counties in the state, including the ten with the highest poverty rates.

"There is poverty in every county in Minnesota, but there are certainly some counties that have higher concentrations of poverty. That's what the contribution from Blue Cross and Blue Shield is going to address, and we think it's a wonderful, wonderful thing that they're doing."

Carolyn Link, executive director of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation, says the decision to award the grant to Minnesota Community Action makes sense because they're the folks on the ground every day.

"They're in a great position to know the local community best and to determine the local needs, and by making the funds available to them, they can make those decisions about the best use of funds in their community."

The number of Minnesotans living in poverty increased by nearly 77 percent in the past decade to almost 600,000 people. The ten counties in Minnesota with the highest rates of poverty are Beltrami, Blue Earth, Cass, Clearwater, Mahnomen, Ramsey, St. Louis, Todd, Wadena and Winona.

More information is at www.mncaa.org.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN