<CENTER><B>BCIP grant identifies<br> wish list for town health</B></CENTER>

Youth character and leadership development

The grant request itemizes the least amount of money for the third part of Luverne's VIP project, but it's an equally important priority in the scope of improving Luverne's overall community health.

The proposal specifically seeks to expand on Rock County's current mentoring program, Big Buddies, and establishes new student-parent-faculty leadership projects.

Blandin Community Investment Partnership

The Blandin Foundation was established in 1985 for the purpose of strengthening rural communities.

The Blandin Community Investment Partnership is an offshoot of the Blandin Community Leadership Training Program that 24 Luverne residents went through in October 1998.

The new Investment Partnership, in only its second year, helps communities identify needs and weaknesses and provides grant money for qualifying programs or projects that would improve the overall well-being of a rural town.

Luverne is one of only eight communities so far to be accepted in the BCIP program.

In the case of Luverne's $760,000 VIP project, Blandin's share, if the grant is approved, would be $128,000 or 16 percent of the project's total cost.

According to Chamber Director Dave Smith, who compiled the formal grant, projects that show support from other local entities stand a better chance of being approved.

He said most of the remaining funding for the VIP project has already been committed, either verbally or in writing.

Smith submitted the grant Thursday, Aug. 31, and a decision won't be made until late December.

"This is the end result of a year's worth of work," he said.

"Everyone wasn't directly involved with the process all the way through, but all the people who had input in the beginning influenced the outcome. It was their ideas, comments and suggestions that brought this thing together."

Editor's note: This story serves as an introduction to Luverne's VIP project. Watch the Star Herald in coming weeks for more details on each of the three priorities identified in the grant request.

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