Foundation Earns Grants to Grow Programming, Do More in Community through Strategic Plan Update

Foundation Earns Grants to Grow Programming, Do More in Community through Strategic Plan Update

Foundation Earns Grants to Grow Programming, Do More in Community through Strategic Plan Update

July 27, 2022 – The North Shore Health Care Foundation (NSHCF) is pleased to have successfully secured new grants from the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation and the Cook County Community Fund, to further its mission and expand programming in Cook County.

Cook County MN Restorative Justice (CCMNRJ), a program of NSHCF, received a $50,000 grant to add staffing and to take on truancy under its operations in collaboration with the ISD 166, County Attorney’s Office, and the District Court. An increase in truancy has become a national epidemic since the start of the pandemic. The grant funds will help cover advanced training in truancy for the program’s 25 trained volunteer facilitators and leadership team, along with administration and staffing costs, and program expenses.

“This generous grant has been entrusted to one of the North Shore Health Care Foundation’s key program areas that will open the door to exploring truancy and other restorative practices for this community,” said Inger Andress, Chair – Cook County MN Restorative Justice and President of the North Shore Health Care Foundation. “We, as a county, state and country, are becoming aware of challenges that have arisen from the global pandemic, “truancy” being one of these growing challenges, and believe that Restorative Justice is a part of the solution.”

The funding also means CCMNRJ can continue having a quarter-time Restorative Justice Case Coordinator, a pilot position that began in March of this year and has proved to be an asset. The Case Coordinator is the only paid position within the program, now at just 10 hours per week under the pilot, can expand to a part-time role once truancy is added. Having the Case Coordinator has helped greatly to efficiently coordinate the reparation steps involved in each situation, bringing parties together for case conferences and coordinating facilitator activities. This is a positive sign that the program is growing and the pilot of the position was successful.

“We are grateful for the opportunity this grant gives the Restorative Justice program to ensure the staffing of the Case Coordinator position, which is an essential aspect of building a sustainable program for a more peaceful community,” said Andress.

Since its inception in 2019, 13 cases have been successfully resolved through the Restorative Justice Program, with three cases currently active. Approximately 80% of cases referred to the RJ program involve youth offenders. Over the last year, CCMNRJ has also been active at ISD 166, making volunteer facilitators available every Wednesday for “Snack N Chat” for students to talk, learn restorative practices, and resolve conflicts.

Cook County MN Restorative Justice is overseen by a multi-sector Advisory Council which includes representation from the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, the County Attorney’s Office, Cook County  Probation Office, Cook County Board of Commissioners, Grand Portage Tribal Council, Grand Portage Human Services, Cook County ISD 166 Schools, Cook County Public Health & Human Services, the Violence Prevention Center, participant and facilitator advocates, and an administration team including the Foundation’s Executive Director. NSHCF adopted the fledgling program in January of 2020, to serve the community and ensure its sustainability until it can grow into its own independent non-profit. The Foundation has a successful track record of incubating solutions that fill gaps in services and contribute to community health. Successful incubator programs include the Oral Health Task Force which has ensured thousands of individuals ages 0 – 26, along with pregnant mothers, get dental care regardless of their ability to pay. The Foundation also created Care Partners of Cook County which provides vital support and services to older adults and their families to address the transitions of aging, serious illness, and end of life with safety, dignity, and confidence. These incubator programs are now either their own nonprofit organizations or have found a permanent home under the appropriate parent service; for example, the OHTF is now part of the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic.

The North Shore Health Care Foundation also received a $5,000 grant from the Cook County Community Fund to update its strategic plan to help address key community health challenges and improve equitable access to health and healthy living in Cook County. The Foundation began implementing its first-ever strategic plan in late 2018-2019 through 2022, which helped the nonprofit undergo a major transition and raise awareness of the important role it plays for health and emergency services in Cook County. The NSHCF strategic plan also intentionally aligns with Cook County Public Health’s Community Health Needs Assessment & Improvement Plan to allow for collaboration and partnerships and to help create solutions for the needs identified as the community’s biggest challenges. For example, with the current plan ending this year, the Foundation adopted the top three key issues identified in the PHHS plan to prioritize funding awards and possible incubation programs – those issues included Seniors’ Services, Children’s Mental Health and Substance Misuse, and Travel & Lodging Resources for Out-of-Town Medical Treatment.

“By aligning our strategic plan with the PHHS Community Health Needs Assessment, it allows us to work together and reduces duplication of efforts to make a bigger and more efficient impact,” said Valerie Marasco Eliasen, Executive Director of the North Shore Health Care Foundation. “We are incredibly grateful to the Cook County Community Fund for this grant award and for recognizing the value in continuing the momentum we created with our first plan through this update which will focus our work and funding opportunities over the next five years. Over this next year, our Board and staff will be working to update our plan, identify where and how the Foundation can have the biggest impact, and continue to champion solutions for a healthy Cook County. We are continuously working to do more in Cook County as a funder, educator, and advocate for health with the limited resources we have.”

As a grant-maker, NSHCF funds a wide variety of initiatives each year through local healthcare and emergency services, as well as community programs that help work towards the Foundation’s vision of a healthy community for all in Cook County. One of the Foundation’s strategic goals is to be able to fund larger projects that make a bigger impact in Cook County.

In conjunction with the update of the strategic plan, the Foundation will be releasing a survey to give parents and individuals an opportunity to have input into what gaps in health services they see as the biggest priority, and what barriers they face in accessing equitable health care.

“Thanks to the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation and the Cook County Community Fund, we look forward to carrying out the work outlined under these two grants which will ultimately contribute to improved community health and wellbeing,” said Marasco Eliasen.

For more information about the Cook County Restorative Justice Program and the work of the North Shore Health Care Foundation, go to


Contact: Valerie Marasco Eliasen, 218-387-9076 or