As you read this, an Eden Prairie nonprofit is counseling a teenager on self-worth so he gets into fewer fights at school. Another local nonprofit is providing improved shelter facilities tonight to women and their children who are in an abusive relationship. Still another Eden Prairie social-services group is helping older adults in need cope with increasing utility bills by tapping a new, emergency assistance fund.

You may not be aware that Eden Prairie Community Foundation donors had a hand in all of it, plus more.

Because they donated to the Foundation, and because the Foundation knows Eden Prairie’ greatest needs and aims to fill them, hundreds of generous individuals, families, organizations and businesses helped the Foundation provide more than 30 local nonprofits and other groups — including the three described above — with nearly $320,000 in grants during the latest fiscal year.

It’s an impact over and above what Eden Prairie’s outstanding nonprofits are already doing on their own. And it helps explain why Eden Prairie is so frequently rated one of the best cities in America to live and work.

Put in terms we might all understand: If Eden Prairie were a Big Mac sandwich, the Foundation would be its secret sauce.

The thing is, the Foundation might also be the pickles and lettuce in that sandwich. Because in addition to the six-figure granting it does each year on behalf of generous donors, the Foundation is also working hard to be the glue that binds Eden Prairie’s nonprofit sector.

This year alone the Foundation brought low-cost board member training to Eden Prairie’s nonprofits; worked with the city and schools to connect nonprofits with prospective volunteers by holding The GIVE Gathering volunteer fair; supplied Eden Prairie nonprofits with updated resources, including a comprehensive list of Eden Prairie funders and granters; and met monthly with nonprofit leaders to learn more about their needs and activities.

Generous people who attended the Foundation’s EP Gives event last spring also donated more than $30,000 to help launch the Eden Prairie chapter of TreeHouse, which helps hurting teenagers discover their self-worth and accomplish great things.

It’s the second new organization that Foundation supporters have helped launch in the past two years, the other being Onward Eden Prairie, which received $26,000 in 2018 to help provide stable local housing to young adults who are couch hopping or homeless.

Whether it’s helping new and impactful enterprises like these get off the ground, or giving grants to existing organizations like PROP (for an emergency utility fund for older adults) and Cornerstone (funding to upgrade its shelter for women and families), the Foundation motors along, using a knowledgeable and experienced staff and board of directors to get dollars to where they’re needed most.

But it doesn’t happen unless there’s an army of donors who are willing to invest in Eden Prairie’s betterment. That’s why the Foundation is looking for your support. If you can make a donation, attend a Foundation event, create a charitable fund at the Foundation, or volunteer for one of its committees or the board, you are giving back to your community.

And, as you can see, you are touching a lot of lives.

Mark A. Weber is executive director of the nonprofit Eden Prairie Community Foundation.

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