White Bear Lake nonprofit Solid Ground awarded $1.25 million grant.
Solid Ground makes dreams come true with $1.25 million Bezos Day One Fund grant.
In an effort to create a strong foundation for families to emerge from homelessness, Solid Ground provides safe, affordable housing and supportive programming to those in Ramsey and Washington Counties.
And in an area where the rental costs are the highest in the state, executive director of Solid Ground Trisha Kauffman explains that the number of families experiencing housing instability in the community is growing at an alarming rate. “It is beyond exciting to be recognized for the work that we are doing and to have those kinds of resources come into the organization to help increase the impact that we can have on the community is huge,” Kauffman says.
The Bezos Day One Fund awards additional funding to organizations that strive to make a meaningful and lasting impact on the community. Composed of two sectors, the $2 billion commitment is split among nonprofit organizations that either help families experiencing homelessness (the Families Fund) or provide schooling to children in low-income communities (the Academies Fund). In 2020 alone, the Bezos Day One Fund provided $105 million for food and shelter support to 42 different organizations across 24 states.
Encouraged to apply for the grant, the Bezos Day One Fund team invited Solid Ground to fill out an application and explain how they would use the funds if they received the award. Within a month, the organization received news that would forever change the landscape of their services. Granted one of the Families Fund annual leadership awards, Solid Ground was recognized for its compassionate work toward providing shelter and services to address the immediate needs of families. “Our ability to serve more families using these Day One funds means a lot for us and hopefully will mean a lot to the community as well,” Kauffman says. “Being able to broaden our reach in the community can help us get the word out about our organization, what we do and how we help.”
With such a large sum, Kauffman explains how they will allocate the funds across three projects over the course of three years. Focusing on three primary purposes, Solid Ground will work to expand its scattered housing programs, partner with Washington County to develop a shelter diversion program and they will hire a mental and chemical health counselor to provide service to all clients.
Scattered Housing Program Expansion
Working with school districts 621, 622, 623 and 624, Homework Starts with Home is a new program aimed at providing rental assistance to homeless students (grades K-12) and their families to encourage and administer success in school.
Shelter Diversion Program
This program works to help families avoid and prevent losing their homes to eviction. Through financial support for up to two months and career guidance, parents can work to create an effective plan to maintain the roof over their heads.
Mental and Chemical Counselor
An on-site counselor will make healthcare more accessible to clients and will provide a safe place for them to grow as individuals.
Solid Ground Programs
Believing that housing stability is fundamental to the healthy development of a child, Solid Ground works with parents to build the strong foundation for family’s needs by providing resources, support and a chance for opportunity. “A lack in housing can have a long-term effect on individuals therefore they can have long-term effects on communities,” Kauffman says. “When people have a range of housing options and can afford it, they are better able to focus on work, school and being better community members.”
Home to six different programs, Solid Ground offers rapid rehousing (12-18 months), transitional housing (24 months) and permanent supportive housing for more than 500 women, men and children annually. Helping families address and achieve their goals, Solid Ground is comprised of 20 transitional units, 14 permanent supportive units, two units for single adult military veterans and additional services like tutoring, employment and educational assistance, parental classes, budgeting and tenant training, Dialectical Behavior Therapy skills training, parental support and, recently, a mobile food market. “The programs are designed to help people become stable behaviorally, spiritually and physically,” Solid Ground program director Jazi Foreman says. “All of those things that come to making you a whole.”
Aiding families for almost 30 years, Solid Ground hopes to continue implementing innovative solutions to help end housing insecurity. “I hope to continue to grow this organization to meet the need in the community and to continue to partner with all of the great people,” Kauffman says. “We would love to work ourselves out of a job; that is our ultimate goal.”
Solid Ground East Metro Place
3521 Century Ave. N., White Bear Lake; 651.773.8401; solidgroundmn.org