I loved the opening shot from Horizons:
Horizons is a visioning and action plan on how communities in the eight states that it serves can take proactive steps to reduce poverty and help to build the type of community that they want to live in. To participate, towns must be less than 5,000 in population; have a poverty rate above 10%; and be broad based in the community.
From waiting to leading…from talk to action…from poverty to prosperity…from a few to many…from despair to hope…from indifference to pride.
This wasn’t my first view of the programs of the Northwest Area Foundation, a foundation set up in 1934 by the son of James J. Hill who was known as the “Empire Builder” for what he accomplished in setting up the Great Northern Railroad. The Foundation serves the eight states that the railroad crossed (MN, IA, ND, SD, MT, ID, OR, and WA). Last year the foundation gave out $24 million from an asset base of $465 million.
One of the very innovative parts of the Horizons program is their blogs from the towns that they are working with. You can see their blogs here. Check out places like Cando, ND (a shout-out to my favorite named town!) which talks about their farmers market, children’s summer theater and parades.
I love researching people like James J. Hill who was a farm boy from Ontario who wanted to be a sea captain. He arrived in St. Paul, MN but missed the last ox-cart caravan of the season heading for the west coast in July, 1856. He got a job for the winter as a shipping clerk at a steamboat company, never leaving. From very modest railroad endeavors he assembled The Great Northern Railroad in 1889 which stretched from St. Paul to Seattle, the northernmost railway in the USA. His fiscal conservatism allowed the railroad to escape being one of the few to not go bankrupt in the general Panic of 1893.
Today, the Northwest Area Foundation is still doing good and giving back to the region that helped it achieve success.