In the Detroit Lakes area, five different organizations received Community Change Maker Grants from West Central Initiative (WCI) to help make a difference in their respective communities.

The five local grants totaled nearly $25,000. In all, West Central Initiative gave $120,000 this spring to 26 different organizations within the WCI service area.

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"Our goal with the Community Change Makers Grant program has been to help communities arrive at their own solutions," said WCI President Anna Wasescha. "In this round of awards, we can see our nine-county region through the eyes of individuals and groups who know and love their communities and, by working together, have summoned the creative energy to make those places better places to live and work."

The organizations that received grant funding follow.

• Using a fresh approach to bringing healthy food to the low-income residents of Detroit Lakes, the Manna Food Co-op has partnered to create an entire summer of food-focused activities including local popup events, farm tours, consumer education classes and neighbor-to-neighbor interactions.

• The new Holmes Art Cellar, located in the basement of the Historic Holmes Theatre, is a new venue for gallery and art store space as well as creative spaces for artists, senior citizens and residents. The WCI Change Makers Grant will be used during this inaugural year to help support arts programming. Funds will assure that visual and creative arts classes for all ages, including special activities for senior citizens, will take place during this first year of programming for this new facility.

• Thursdays Trucks & Tunes free summer concerts Thursday evenings in the City Park Bandshell has been a successful partnership between the City of Detroit Lakes and Historic Holmes Theatre. This summer, thanks in part to a WCI Change Makers Grant, four additional music events will be held at the bandshell on select Thursday nights. These after-work "Happy Hour" concerts will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Visitors will enjoy an upbeat concert and have the option to purchase a meal, snacks, desserts and drinks from a variety of food trucks.

• A Place to Belong (AP2B) has its headquarters in Fergus Falls and a second location in Detroit Lakes. AP2B provides a safe and supportive environment for people with mental illness. This grant, along with other community support, will help establish an office in Perham to better serve residents of Perham and eastern Otter Tail County.

• By building on already-established relationships between education and industry, the Lake Park Audubon STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts Math) Innovation Labs will offer students hands-on, real-world learning experiences. The WCI funds will help redesign two retired computer labs at Lake Park Audubon High School into STEAM Innovation Labs featuring an immersive digital classroom experience.