Every year the Bush Foundation opens applications for their incredibly prestigious Bush Prize for Community Innovation. These grants are awarded to 501(c)(3) public charities and government entities in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota, or to any of the 23 Native Nations located in the same geographical space. These organizations can include schools as well. This year the Bush Foundation has awarded over $2 million dollars as part of this program to five different organizations in Minnesota and the Dakotas, one of these recipients being the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The Minneapolis based charity provides essential resources to native women who are suffering from addiction, sexual trauma or mental health issues. These resources include housing as well as other services like counseling. The Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center will receive a $500,000 grant, and their President and CEO, Patina Park knows exactly what to do with the money, namely replacing boilers for their building which is quite old.
The boilers are expected to cost up to $100,000, a fifth of their received funds, but Park says that these boilers will last for years to come and that it’s worth the investment to replace them. Beyond the boilers, Park says that she’d like to use the rest of the funding to build 20-40 housing units on their property to help participants who are transitioning from homelessness to permanent housing.
Park had this to say about the proposed units: “There’s a lot of work around apartments and development, but it’s missing that arc between truly being homeless or really unstable in your housing . . . and getting support and help and healing before you’re really able to maintain long-term housing.
Even though the prize being awarded is referred to as the Bush Prize for community innovation, what this organization is doing, is not innovative at all, but rooted in traditional indigenous cultural practices and teachings. The resource center partners with various members of the indigenous community in their work, including having an advisory board of elders, in order to best be able to address the needs of the community.
In the organization’s statement accepting The Bush Prize for Community Innovation, President and CEO Patina Park had this to say about receiving the award: “MIWRC is honored to have been selected as a winner of 2019 Bush Prize for Community Innovation. When we applied we were grateful for the opportunity to take a deep breath and pause from the day-to-day sense of urgency and need and contemplate what we do, why we do it, and more importantly why. Too often we get caught up in the overwhelming needs of our community- homelessness, addiction, abuse, violence, and trauma, and we lose sense of our true strengths and our sense of purpose”.
By Lianne Hikind