Sourcewell’s Innovation Funding Program Looks To Make A Difference In Region Five
For years, Sourcewell has been awarding funds to help bring innovative Region Five projects to life through its Innovation Funding Program. Sourcewell announced that their Innovation Program is back, and this year there is roughly $500,000 available for Region Five Projects.
“We’re really trying to help communities on projects that they might otherwise not be able to do themselves,” Anna Gruber, Sourcewell’s Manager of City and County Solutions, said.
A lot of great ideas and projects never come to life because of the money it would cost to make it happen. Sourcewell’s Innovation Funding Program is trying to eliminate money from being an issue, and is giving many Region Five projects a chance to succeed.
“So, we require it to be something that benefits multiple entities and that its innovative,” Gruber said.
Anyone with an idea that can help the Region Five counties of Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, Todd, and Wadena can apply until May 8th to get a share of $500,000 towards their project.
“It can be any city or county department,” Gruber said. “We’ve seen law enforcement, we tend to see at least one health & human services application, we’ve had veteran projects, we’ve done a food kitchen, so it is all across the board.”
One project that was brought to life from Sourcewell’s Innovation Funding Program in 2017 was the Crow Wing County Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Drone Team.
“We probably would not have been able to start up our UAS team in Crow Wing County without the help from Sourcewell, and those funds,” John Bowen, Crow Wing County’s Emergency Management Director, said.
The UAS drone team went on over 40 missions in the second half of 2018, helping law enforcement on a number of different calls.
“Any kind of missing persons, any structural fires, and we’ve had drownings where we’ve taken them out,” Bowen said. “It’s pretty remarkable, you can actually see 10-12 feet under the water without even a polarized lens.”
The drone’s thermal lens can help firefighters identify hot spots where a fire could start up again, and the drones don’t just help Crow Wing County.
“Our UAS team is not just Crow Wing County,” Bowen said. “We will respond to the whole region on mutual aid calls, and working together as public safety, and as a region, has been a huge benefit for the region.”
Sourcewell is excited to give more projects a chance to benefit Region Five with this year’s Innovation Funding Program.
“I think Innovation Funding has allowed cities and counties to have this pool of funds to come with projects that maybe people have had in their mind, but it’s hard to find an exact grant that it fits with,” Gruber said. “So, it’s really giving them the opportunity to do things that they otherwise would never have the opportunity to do.”
Applications for the Innovation Funding Program are due on May 8th, and then any projects that meet the requirements will be invited to present their ideas at Sourcewell’s Review Day on May 22nd.
For more information, visit sourcewell.co/Funding2019.