Category Archives: Diversity Equity Inclusivity

New Hispanic Heritage Banners

The Northfield Arts and Culture Commission and the Friends of Downtown Northfield are pleased to announce the winning design for new downtown banners in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. Corn Connections by Constanza Ocampo-Raeder and sons Emiliano and Joaquin was selected by a volunteer public art review committee in July out of 12 outstanding submissions from local and regional artists.

The banner depicts different kinds of corn that bear significance and speak to cross-cultural connections: Joaquin and Emiliano’s favorite Oaxacan corn (purple), sweet corn (yellow), and heritage Native American popcorn (red). The sun represents both the beautiful sunsets as well as the joys of eating corn tortillas with every meal.

The banners will be displayed on light poles along Division Street in time for Northfield’s sixth annual Hispanic Heritage Celebration on September 15, remaining for Hispanic Heritage Month and into November.

A brief dedication will take place at the Third Thursdays Downtown event hosted by Friends of Downtown Northfield and Riverwalk Market Fair on September 21 at 6:30 p.m. Remarks by Mayor Rhonda Pownell and Arts and Culture Commission Chair Paula Granquist will be provided in Spanish and English.

Hispanic Heritage Month, observed September 15 to October 15, is an annual celebration of the histories, cultures and contributions of Americans whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America or other regions that identify with the aforementioned cultures.

Learn more about the artist and design in the banner’s virtual dedication video.

Backing Small Business Grant Opportunity

Eligible Northfield businesses are invited to apply for the Backing Small Businesses grant program presented by American Express, in partnership with Main Street America. Applications are being accepted from March 20 through Friday, April 7. To support economically vulnerable small business owners in growing their businesses and fostering a thriving small business community, grants of $5,000 will be awarded to 350 business owners in the U.S. and territories.

Twenty-five of the 350 grantees will also be awarded $25,000 Enhancement Grants, allowing business owners the opportunity to further enhance their businesses. These winners will be announced in October 2023.

To learn more about eligible projects and businesses and apply, click here:

SMIF Entrepreneurship Opportunity

The Prosperity Initiative promotes inclusive entrepreneurship and business growth for entrepreneurs who identify as Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), and underserved individuals. The program offers multiple entry points for entrepreneurs depending on the stage of their business development. The Prosperity Initiative provides regular education, coaching and business resources to minority business owners in SMIF’s region for up to one year.

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis until March 20, 2023.

Learn more on the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation website.

SMIF Opens Inclusive & Equitable Communities Grant Application

The Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF), in partnership with Region Nine Development Commission (RNDC), is currently accepting applications for its Inclusive and Equitable Communities Grant program. Nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations, units of government or public institutions in SMIF’s 20-county region (including Northfield) are eligible to apply. Requests of up to $20,000 will be considered.

Eligible organizations are invited to submit applications which allow their communities to build inclusive, welcoming environments and advance equitable opportunities in the lives of all people. SMIF seeks applications which create economic opportunities and prosperity for diverse populations. Applications which focus on projects serving people who identify as Black, Indigenous, people of color, immigrant and/or refugee communities will be prioritized. Applications that focus on creating inclusive and welcoming environments for other marginalized individuals will also be considered.

“We are pleased to provide this opportunity for organizations working on inclusivity and economic equity in southern Minnesota communities,” said Pam Bishop, vice president of economic development at SMIF. “Our partnership with RNDC further strengthens our commitment to supporting welcoming initiatives in the region.”

Applications are due to SMIF by October 24, 2022. For the application and guidelines, visit or contact Jennifer Heien, Grants Coordinator, at 507-214-7040 or