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Foundation grant aims to help Duluth neighborhoods

On Monday non-profit leaders gathered at the Central Hillside Community Center to celebrate one of its own receiving $500,000 for projects that individually seem so minor, many Duluthians might never no-tice them.

On Monday non-profit leaders gathered at the Central Hillside Community Center to celebrate one of its own receiving $500,000 for projects that individually seem so minor, many Duluthians might never no-tice them.

Collectively, this gift from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation will fund projects in Duluth that collectively improve the region, so the area becomes a better place to live and work, said supporters.

The money supports projects that range from shrinking the number of families in poverty, to a fa?ade improvement program in West Duluth.

Duluth has a track record of implementing good ideas, said Polly Talen, program director of the Minnesota branch of the Knight Foundation. That's why it opted Monday to hand the Duluth nonprofit Local Initiatives Support Coalition $500,000.

"We have confidence our investments will be very well spent," Talen said.

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The programs LISC will support with this money fall beneath the larger umbrella of an initiative called "Creating Neighborhoods That Work - At Home in Duluth."

The effort is to target projects for more depressed parts of town, such as Central and East Hillside, Lincoln Park, Morgan Park, and West Duluth.

"There's a number of ways this is going to help us move forward," said Pam Kramer, executive director of Duluth LISC.

Officials hope this will spur moves by developers, business owners and residents to invest even more money in making improvements to homes and businesses in these neighbor-hoods.

The grant will allow LISC to add a fourth member to its staff, Kramer said.

The overall goal of a grant like this, Talen said, is to generate more people to live in Duluth, open businesses in Duluth, and improve their properties.

This, Talen said, ultimately improves the long-term economic health of the region.

Mayor Don Ness also said during the press conference that as much as the money symbolized a better future, it also was evidence that the many hours residents toil behind the scenes coming up with viable ways to improve the community aren't in vain.

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"What we're seeing here, is the fruits of those labors," Ness said.

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