Grant moves Jeremiah Program closer to goal

December 30, 2018

An Otto Bremer Trust grant puts Rochester’s Jeremiah Program within $1 million of the funds it needs to build a planned 64,836-square-foot, 40-apartment campus and on-site child development center.

“We are deeply grateful for Bremer’s $475,000 investment in our Rochester campus to provide a safe and affordable home for low-income, single mothers and their children in our community to grow as parents, succeed as students, and prepare for career-track professions,” said JoMarie Morris, executive director of the Rochester Jeremiah Program, in a statement announcing the grant.

Jeremiah Program works to address issues of affordable housing, early childhood education, intergenerational poverty and workforce development among families headed by low-income single mothers and their young children. The Rochester program is an extension of efforts in Minneapolis and St. Paul, as well as other states.

“Jeremiah Program continues to build on the success of its services and programming aimed at helping low-income mothers and their children to move beyond poverty and into a life of economic independence,” said Daniel C. Reardon, co-CEO and trustee of the Otto Bremer Trust. “This is a model worth emulating, and we’re pleased to be investing in the work they are doing in the region.”

The Rochester project has already been approved for $11.7 million in estimated tax credit equity from the state and a $250,000 grant from the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund.

However, Morris said program guidelines call for having funds for construction costs and a year of operating expenses in the bank before ground can be broken on the campus, which is expected to be located on 2 acres near the intersection of 19th Street Northwest and Valleyhigh Drive.

That’s where the added funding is needed.

Morris said the project is weeks away from kicking off public fundraising efforts.

“We’re hoping to raise a significant about of that ($1 million) locally,” she said, noting the program is also seeking support from various foundations.

The Jeremiah Program is also working to secure federal housing vouchers to help cover costs related to 20 apartments for 15 years. The Olmsted County Housing and Redevelopment Authority has indicated tentative support of the effort but must conduct a public hearing before approval can be granted.

The hearing is expected to take place in February.

Morris said it all must fall into place for the planned June groundbreaking, which would make way for the campus to open in 2020.

However, she noted local efforts might not have gotten this far without the continued support of the Otto Bremer Trust.

“The Otto Bremer Trust is a vital partner in bringing Jeremiah Program’s proven two-generation solution to end the cycle of poverty for single mothers and their young children to Southeast Minnesota,” she said.

Previous Trust support was instrumental in Jeremiah Program’s early capacity-building activities in Rochester.

Six families are already making their way through the program, and an additional 12 are set to start next month.

The latest funding will be significant for the Jeremiah Program as it begins work with more single mothers with children 5 years old and younger.

“Jeremiah Program is so fortunate to have a philanthropic partner in the Otto Bremer Trust,” said Elaine Case, chairwoman of the community board for the Rochester Jeremiah Program. “It will be through this partnership that lives are changed, our community is enhanced, and true social impact will be realized.”

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