Telling Our Story

Philanthropy in Focus

Community Impact

Just over a year ago, when Melissa Enter began her new job as a Day Service Specialist at MRCI, one of her goals was to make sure those she served felt welcomed into the world around them. In her experience, she noticed that people with disabilities would often look down—at their feet or the ground—as they had been told to stay out of people’s way throughout their lives. She joined MRCI because she knew they wanted something different than that.

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Minnesota nICE


It is common to hear whistles blowing and fans cheering at Minnesota State University, Mankato’s Blakeslee Stadium, the home of Maverick Football. But in the middle of January? Now that was a first. Such was the case when the puck dropped during Hockey Day Minnesota 2022 at the temporary outdoor ice rink sitting atop Blakeslee Field. Hockey players and fans from across the state gathered to watch, cheer and play during the State of Hockey’s annual celebration of their favorite sport.

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Located on the shores of Lake Washington in LeSueur County, Kiwanis Camp Patterson has been serving thousands of youth campers each summer for the past four generations. In fact, today, the camp serves 2,600 each season.

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On any given day, Natasha Frost is taking orders, catering events or determining new menu items for her Mankato restaurant, Wooden Spoon. But one day in the spring of 2019, plans changed after receiving a phone call from Sheri Sander-Silva, the Executive Director of Feeding Our Communities Partners (FOCP).

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Giving Outside the Box


When the COVID-19 pandemic reached the Mankato area, local nonprofits felt its effects immediately. Programs shut down, government funding was shifted or cut, and the uncertainty forced many nonprofits to question their future and how best to serve their constituents.

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It Takes A Village


On any given day, it’s nearly impossible to find Mohamed Abdulkadir at home. He begins his workdays at MRCI in Mankato, where he fulfills his duties as a Refugee Employment Specialist, connecting refugees with employers and other resources in the region.

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Power in Numbers

Women's Giving Circle

WE WANTED WOMEN TO FEEL THE POWER OF GIVING. “And to think it all began over a cup of coffee.” This is the tagline on the emails from Women’s Giving Circle (WGC) leaders Laura Stevens and Melanie VanRoekel, and it speaks to the power of a single conversation between two friends looking to make a difference in their community.

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Quaran–Team Effort

Community Response Fund

IT’S AMAZING WHAT A SHARED SPACE CAN DO. For the Mankato Area Foundation (MAF) and Greater Mankato Area United Way (GMAUW), a shared physical space spawned a partnership that would shape the Mankato area’s response to the COVID-19 crisis.

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A Mankato Masterpiece

Donor Advised Funds

It’s not every day you drive by 135-foot-tall children. Unless you’re a Mankato resident, that is. The Ardent Mills grain silos in downtown Mankato, home to the newest of internationally-renowned artist Guido van Helten’s enormous original murals, feature the likenesses of elementary school students. This way-larger-than-life masterpiece is a celebration of Mankato’s past, present and future; it features local children and adults learning, playing and dancing at the Mahkato Mdewakanton Association Powwow.

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Sew Important

Fiscal Sponsorship

A YEAR AGO, “PPE” MEANT NOTHING TO A LOT OF PEOPLE. Today, personal protective equipment (PPE) is required for all Minnesotans in public spaces, and every day tens of thousands of Mankato area residents don reusable face masks they received for free, thanks to the work of Priscilla Roos and Get Mankato PPE. “When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit the U.S., I was glued to the television, horrified, for two solid weeks. Finally, I said, ‘That’s enough. I need to do something.’ But I wasn’t sure where to start,” Roos said.

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A Home for Philanthropy

Special Projects & Programs

Nancy Zallek never anticipated her job would involve endless conversations about plumbing, flooring and electrical wiring. It wasn’t really in her job description, but that’s just what happens when you build and later expand upon a successful nonprofit center. “I now know more about HVAC than I ever cared to,” Zallek said, laughing. “But it’s all for a great cause.”

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MAF Spotlight: R.T. Rybak, “Igniting the Power of Philanthropy”