Donations help support the arts, youth activities, education, civic projects, wellness, environment and the area economy.

Origins of Ely Area Community Foundation After our inception over five years ago, Ely Area Community Foundation (EACF) had to work to achieve recognition. This required a PR campaign that focused on the difference between a community foundation and a “one focus” foundation (i.e. hospital foundation, high school foundation, etc.). Following that we took over a commemorative brick fund-raiser which had been started, then abandoned, by a downtown business group. The brick effort spurred interest, and more recognition, and gradually helped increased our endowment fund so there was enough money available to grant. We also have included two nearby cities and a township into our foundation area which not only extends our donor reach well beyond Ely, but allows us to be a real “community area” foundation.

Since we appeal not only to our local population, but also to a large visitor/tourist group (we’re an entry point into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness) and summer residents, we not only must consider our local organizations but those who serve a larger, more varied populace during all seasons of the year.

Community Grants Our first grantee was the Ely Nordic Ski Club, a group with a very large membership, who took over the use of the previously city-run Chalet and have made both it and the ski trails adjoining a much used and revered family recreation area. The second grantee was ElyTV, in conjunction with the Ely-Winton Historical Society, to digitize and preserve their oral archives. Many of Ely TV’s visual offerings are now seen on our local cable TV channel. The third, and most recent grantee, was the Tower-Soudan Historical Society, for their train restoration project. The focus of their grant was the restoration of a “man car”, used to carry miners back and forth from home to job, and was donated by the Hull-Rust Mine. This car complements their restored engine and caboose, on display at the Train Depot/Museum, in Tower, MN.

These grants, along with a yearly Wine Tasting, and appearances at our two yearly Ely Festivals, Blueberry Arts and Harvest Moon, and much help from local media, have given us enough recognition to move forward (slowly) with our goals. It is an ongoing challenge to educate donors about the value of a community foundation: it can be the “foundation” to all community giving (and progress) because it keeps both dollars and results local, and can assure consistent benefits to other area organizations and 501(c) 3s. We believe “who we are is what we give…to our community…to our children…to our future.”

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