The Otto Bremer Trust, the charitable foundation that owns 92 percent of Bremer Bank, gave away a record $47.3 million in 2016 — the largest annual amount since bank founder Otto Bremer created the trust in 1944.
The funding, in the form of grants and program-related investments, went to 550 applicants in Minnesota, North Dakota and western Wisconsin including nonprofit organizations, cities and school districts.
Three Twin Cities organizations each received program-related investments, such as loans or equity investments, of $1 million:
• The Greater Minnesota Housing Fund was awarded $1 million for a fund to acquire and preserve 1,000 units of naturally occurring affordable housing in the Twin Cities.
• The Metropolitan Economic Development Association (Meda) received $1 million to support minority entrepreneurs.
• Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity will use its $1 million to help low-income families buy affordable homes in neighborhoods of their choosing.
"We are proud of the work we completed in 2016," said Charlotte Johnson, Bremer's co-CEO and trustee, in a written statement.
"Our focus recognizes the individuals and communities of the region where we operate, as well as the increasingly diverse needs of organizations that present unique and compelling opportunities for the trust's investment."
The Bremer Trust started with $2 million more than six decades ago and now has nearly $1 billion in assets. It has given away $600 million since its inception and made average annual distributions of $42 million in the past five years.
The trust spent about $4.7 million on operations and administrative costs in 2015. The 2016 numbers won't be available until spring, a spokesman said.