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Executive Director's Summary

Recently I was asked in regards to our work at the Foundation, "how do you know you are making a difference?" It's a good question and one that we need to ask ourselves often and be willing to critically look at our work, our priorities and the impact that we have in our service area.

One way that I answer that question is through the multitude of stories from our grantees - these amazingly dedicated organizations that daily shape our communities for good through their work.

It is grantees like Hartley Nature Preschool teaching young children to be good stewards of the earth; William Kelley High School knowing and teaching students the value of hands-on learning; Conservation Corps Minnesota engaging young people in service learning projects that benefit our communities while teaching important life lessons; Northeast Entrepreneur Fund and their new initiative "Enfuse: Cook County" focused on growing entrepreneurial skills and creating strong new businesses for the area; Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra sharing the timeless joy of music along the North Shore and throughout our region; North House Folk School teaching the value and importance of northern craft to inspire hearts and minds; and Lighthouse Center for Vision Loss creating opportunities for people like 99 year old Roy to live independently in their home despite vision challenges. These are some of the many grantees we have partnered with in 2014 that are making a positive difference in our communities.

I know that difference too as I look at the faces of the students that have received the Lloyd K Johnson Post-Secondary scholarships this past year - new, renewal and second renewal. Many of these students have talked about how they would not be able to attend school without this scholarship and are now going on to become nurses, teachers or skilled labors contributing to the community and realizing their education goals. This past year the Foundation partnered with Cook County Higher Education to provide additional support services to all our scholarship students. For us, making a difference means that it's not just about funding a scholarship, it is about a circle of support for each student to help them succeed.

We live in a great community and join with great partners - it is through the scholarship recipients, the grantees and their stories, that I know we make a difference.

Joan Gardner-Goodno
Executive Director