Focus Area: Youth Development
Grant Amount: $12,000
Based in McGregor, serves McGregor and surrounding communities in northeastern Minnesota’s Aitkin County, including the Mille Lacs Reservation. Something Cool serves 75 children ages 5-12 years old, offering youth enrichment and entrepreneurial activities, including the chance to sell products and artwork at a downtown storefront managed by the organization. Something Cool uses the local K-12 school as its base and is able to contract with the school to provide transportation for its youth, some of whom travel a very long way to participate in activities. It has one Native staff person and numerous Native volunteers. It also has begun a partnership with the Migiziwaadis Wan Ojibwe Cultural Learning Center, which will help to meet the need for culturally based programming for Native youth.
Grant supports expanding its mentoring program, called Threads, which currently serves older youth. This expansion will connect children ages 5-10 with skilled older adult volunteers in one to one and small group activities that support positive youth development with a focus on social-emotional skills. The program will use the Second Steps SEL curriculum to help build resiliency in youth. Something Cool is expanding its programming in response to youth trauma, both from the pandemic and long-standing issues of isolation and trauma for both its Native and non-Native youth.