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Live First Community Giving 2023

First International Bank & Trust is proud to announce the winners of the Ninth Annual Live First Community Giving Campaign. More than 136 community organizations applied for this year’s program.

Please join us in congratulating the following community groups selected as recipients for our 2023 Live First Community Grants!

$15,000 Grand Prize Award – Aspiring Youth Academy, Phoenix, AZ

Aspiring Youth Academy is dedicated to developing the next generation by delivering entrepreneur and leadership skills to Arizona School Aged Youth through Discovery Workshops, Spring Break Entrepreneurship Camps and Business Launch Virtual Programs, regardless of any student's ability to pay.

$5,000 Rising Star Award – McKenzie County Outdoor Education Center – Watford City, ND

In partnership with McKenzie County Sportsman's Club, McKenzie County Outdoor Education Center encourages young and old alike, to enjoy the benefits of the shooting sports. Trap Leagues, Archery Leagues, Educational Facility and so much more. Teaching safe handling and respect for bows and firearms of all types. Community participation and relaxation at its best.

$5,000 Rising Star Award – Bowdon Development Center, Fessenden, ND

Bowdon Development Center Inc (BDCI) was created, operates, and exists because volunteer workers choose to promote economic opportunities for the future growth of Bowdon. In so doing, BDCI manages, funds, and maintains the Bowdon School Activity Center (BSAC) for the City of Bowdon since 2002 after the school's closing in 2001. BSAC has been repurposed for the community's use. The science lab has been transformed into a kitchen which is rented out along with another classroom and the gymnasium for community events, i.e., wedding receptions, birthday and graduation parties, church socials, benefits, funerals, fund raisers, reunion events, German Suppers and other Duck Fest events, Farmers Markets, 4-H archery, corporate meetings, etc. Three classrooms have been converted to the Bowdon Closet Thrift Store, whose total profits go to the Bowdon Grocery Store to help continue to provide local groceries. The thrift store provides affordable clothing and other necessities for our local community. Another classroom has been dedicated to exhibit art during our Annual Fall Duck Fest Event and recently a spring elementary and high school art show. BDCI also funds music groups, cowboy poet, etc. for our community members to enjoy. BDCI has a board of nine community members that encourage locals and alumni to have an annual $15 membership, donate monetarily, and/or raise funds to promote various ventures in the community such as new sidewalks and recycling opportunities. BDCI created and operates a campground for vacationers and hunters. We are dependent on and thankful for our volunteers and community support.

$5,000 Rising Star Award – Companions for Children in Minot, Minot, ND

Companions for Children is kick starting a new program that supports children with a parent battling cancer through a one-on-one mentoring relationship to expand their support system and not allow cancer to negatively change the trajectory on their life. Children whose parents have been diagnosed with cancer have so many questions, thoughts, and concerns - many of which can only be understood by someone who has undergone a similar experience; therefore, mentors in this program have experienced cancer impacting their family in some capacity. This program will be unique in that it will go above and beyond traditional mentoring standards by providing additional mental health support pieces such as crisis, grief, and response training, therapy activities, support groups, and much more. To the organization's knowledge, this program will be the third of its kind in the Nation and it is anticipated to be a model program, allowing other mentoring organizations to offer impact mentoring in the future.

$5,000 Rising Star Award – Farm in the Dell of the Red River Valley, Moorhead, MN

At Farm in the Dell of the Red River Valley, their mission is transforming disabilities into abilities through purposeful work and life experiences in a community farm setting. They work closely with local families and agencies to connect individuals with purposeful work that fills their spirits, sharpens their minds, and cultivates joy. Their employees find space at the farm to discover their own passions and abilities. They don’t just grow produce. At their core, they serve people with developmental disabilities adults, young and old, who live with Cerebral Palsy, Autism, Down Syndrome, Muscular Dystrophy, and a plethora of other disorders who were born with chronic conditions and were dealt a hand in life that no amount of money, hours in the field, or boxfuls of tomatoes will ever erase. However, what the founders of the organization fought and advocated for in the onset of the organization, and now what the team, Board of Directors, and dedicated supporters continue to work for every day is to provide true and sincere LOVE. The way they share the love with their employees is special. It’s through livable wages. It’s through a paycheck. It’s through prayer. It’s through conversations between rows of peas in the field on a sunny day. It’s through friendship. It’s through making sure that they feel seen, heard, valued, and respected. Also, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of individuals living in Minnesota with a disability totals 346,254, and the number of individuals with independent living disabilities between the ages of 18-64 living in Minnesota that are unemployed is 66%. In addition to that, according to the Fair Labor Standards Act, employers across the country can apply for certification from the Department of Labor which then allows them to pay individuals with disabilities less than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. There is no legal minimum for how low those wages can go. A recent report by the Government Accountability Office found that half of the workers employed under this Section 14(c) certificate program are earning less than $3.50 per hour. Farm in the Dell exists to change those numbers and we want to change the stories behind those numbers.

$5,000 Rising Star Award – Free Guitars 4 Kids, Edina, MN

Mission It is our belief that every child should be able to experience both the joy and the tangible benefits of owning a musical instrument, regardless of his or her ability to purchase one. We give guitars and access to free lessons to under-resourced kids across the country.

$1,000 Social Media Stars

  • Turtle Mountain Animal Rescue, Rolla, ND*
  • The Garrett Houghton GOOD Foundation, Killdeer, ND
  • Staples-Motley Wrestling Club, Staples-Motley, MN

*Turtle Mountain Animal Rescue will receive $1,600 to match the record-breaking number of social media impressions they received

Thank you to everyone who participated in our 2023 Live First Community Grant Program! Whether you were an applicant, or participated in our social media awareness campaign, your interest is what makes this program a success, and keeps these vital programs running in our communities.

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