Three Northland nonprofit organizations were recognized Monday for their efforts to help improve the lives of individuals in the region.

The Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation hosted its 21st annual Touchstone Awards before a crowd of more than 360 guests at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center's Harbor Side Ballroom.

The Duluth Playhouse received the generosity award, the Ashland School District received the civic engagement award and Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua was honored with the award for inclusiveness.

Each organization was awarded $2,500 to help with future projects.


The Duluth Playhouse was honored for building partnerships with the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra and the Minnesota Ballet - key facets to the success of the Playhouse's production of "Les Miserables." This production - one one of the most ambitious in Northland history - drew thousands of attendees.

Civic Engagement

The Ashland School District received the award for creating curriculum for its high school and middle school based on Speak your Peace: The Civility Project. The program has expanded into the greater community, including a partnership with Native American groups.


Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua was recognized for hosting a public celebration of diverse cultures. The group's free event drew more than 450 people, more than half of them children.

In addition to the three award winners, Touchstone Award finalists included: Hartley Nature Center and its new nature-based preschool for the generosity award, the City of Duluth and its police mounted patrol for the civic engagement award and Duluth's Woodland Hills and its College Exploration Road Trip for the inclusiveness award.