The International Institute of Minnesota is expanding its headquarters building at 1694 Como Ave. The expanded facility is part of a $12.5 million project that will allow the organization to increase workforce training and other sought-after programs that will serve an additional 500 New Americans annually.
The project is being funded by a $3 million state bonding appropriation, private and corporate foundations, and individual donors. The Otto Bremer Trust has awarded $1 million to the project, including a $750,000 program-related investment and a $250,000 grant. Other major contributors include Fred C. and Katherine B. Andersen Foundation, F.R. Bigelow Foundation, Hardenbergh Foundation, HRK Foundation and Saint Paul Foundation.
“We are grateful for all of our supporters that have helped make this expansion possible,” said International Institute of Minnesota Executive Director Jane Graupman. “Even before the pandemic, the Institute experienced a significant increase in demand for our services. For over 100 years, we have been working to make Minnesota a place where New Americans can find respect, support, and safety; and opportunities to achieve their fullest potential – which positively benefits them and our state. ”
The expansion includes a 16,000-square-foot wing containing six new classrooms, interactive training labs, a welcoming and functional lobby and gathering spaces for clients and their families. The current 18,000-square-foot building is being renovated to maximize space efficiency, ensure accessibility and create flexibility for the future.
The Institute achieved several milestones in 2020, surpassing 25,000 refugees resettled since 1974, and assisting in 15,000 citizenship applications being filed since 2001. As baby boomers age out of the workforce, immigrants and refugees represent a growing portion of the state’s overall population, and these New Americans are essential to Minnesota’s labor market and economic viability in the global marketplace.
“The International Institute of Minnesota has a tremendous track record of helping New Americans achieve stability and quickly become contributing members of the workforce, particularly in the much-needed healthcare professions,” said Charlotte Johnson, Co-CEO and Trustee, Otto Bremer Trust. “By substantially increasing the Institute’s facility, the organization will be able to double the number of workforce program participants annually.”
Founded in 1919, the International Institute of Minnesota helps New Americans successfully transition to new lives, build self-sufficiency, and achieve economic independence. Today, the Institute is a recognized leader in programs and services for immigrants and refugees, providing workforce development; employment training, including programs aimed at hospitality and medical careers; immigration and citizenship services; refugee resettlement; English language classes; and a college readiness academy. The Institute also sponsors the popular annual Festival of Nations.