Minnesotans weary of March Madness still have at least one team they can rally behind.
HOPE 4 Youth, a north metro nonprofit for homeless youth, has reached the championship round in a national bracket challenge for charities. It’s facing off against Altoona Kids Café of Altoona, Iowa, which provides meals for students in the summer months.
Farrell’s eXtreme Bodyshaping, an Iowa-based fitness franchise with locations in 10 states, is marking its 15th year in business with the bracket challenge, which has pitted 64 charities nominated by local gyms against one another for a $5,000 prize.
“That’s a big amount for a nonprofit,” said Lisa Jacobson, executive director of HOPE 4 Youth.
Voting occurs on the company’s Facebook page and ends Thursday at 11:50 p.m. Voters must have a Facebook profile to vote.
HOPE 4 Youth was nominated for the contest by members of Farrell’s Brooklyn Park location.
“[The bracket challenge] is helping bring some needed funding and raising awareness to this great organization,” said Tim Sanken, who runs the Brooklyn Park and Maple Grove Farrell’s locations. “It’s going to take a large number of people to carry this organization over the finish line by Thursday,” he said.
In the challenge, HOPE 4 Youth has faced a Texas organization that supports families of fallen first responders, a Minnesota animal rescue, a Ronald McDonald House Iowa location and a Colorado group raising awareness about a rare genetic condition.
Other Minnesota groups also competed, including Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota and Open Arms of Minnesota, a meal delivery nonprofit. Information on each of the 64 charities is available on the company’s website.
Created in 2013, HOPE 4 Youth runs a drop-in center in Anoka, where young people can grab clean clothes, take a shower and eat a hot meal. The nonprofit also recently opened HOPE Place, Anoka County’s only transitional housing facility for homeless youth, in Coon Rapids.