In 2003, the Edina Community Foundation (ECF) formed the Community Impact Program (CIP) to support people who develop ideas, take initiative and positively impact the community.
“This has allowed Edina to develop a very diverse and vibrant nonprofit community,” says Dick Crockett, ECF executive director.
From arts and sports organizations to neighborhood groups, memorial funds and environmental projects, individuals or groups with ties to Edina bring their ideas to ECF, complete the CIP agreement and, once approved as a partner, they can begin raising money under ECF’s 501(c)(3).
“Pick a suburb and you won’t find one that has 75 different nonprofits in them, and by virtue of serving as a charitable partner to enhance those options, we wouldn’t be the community we are today,” Crockett says.
While there are so many organizations operating under the CIP, today we’re highlighting three partners, each impacting Edina in different ways.
Minnesota Wild Blind Hockey and Deaf/Hard of Hearing Hockey
The Minnesota Wild Blind Hockey and Deaf/Hard of Hearing Hockey were both founded by Antonia (Toni) Gillen. These two organizations provide youth and adult athletes who are blind or hearing-impaired the opportunity to develop confidence, self-esteem, life skills and team spirit through the sport of hockey. Both are part of Minnesota Diversified Hockey and are under the Minnesota Hockey and USA Hockey umbrellas.
“While all our players live with different abilities, they are first and foremost hockey players,” Gillen says. “The game and programs are diversified, offering diverse opportunities so everyone in Minnesota can play the game they love.”
Gillen says, “The existence of our programs relies on donations, volunteerism and visibility. The ability to partner with the [ECF] helps us to promote and achieve all three—our donors can feel confident in their support due to the respected reputation of the Foundation and our inclusion on their website has directed interested volunteers to us through increased visibility.”
Chowen Park Initiative
The Chowen Park Initiative is an ongoing program that was founded by the Bjornnes family (Norm, Conni, Alexandra and Connor) to honor the memories of Norm’s grandparents, Norman, M.D., and Claire Bjornnes.
It provides private financial support to beautify a block in the Chowen Park neighborhood with updated light poles, traffic signs and posts.
“When the City of Edina completed its neighborhood designation initiative years ago, the [Chowen Park] neighborhood took on a discrete identity,” Norm Bjornnes Jr. says. “Our family wanted to make a modest, tangible gift to our neighborhood ... The [ECF] had the experience and structure to allow our family to partner with the City of Edina to proceed with the neighborhood improvements.”
Edina High School Class of 1971 Reunion Fund
Supporting the 50-year and subsequent reunions of the Edina High School class of 1971, this fund allows reunion-goers the opportunity to donate to the ECF when they register for class reunions.
“It gave classmates an opportunity to contribute to the foundation and the community in which they grew up,” says Rev. Bill MacLean, co-chair of the Edina Class of 1971 Reunion Committee.