Last fiscal year, we awarded grants totaling $14,041, including:
  • City of Pipestone Parks and Recreation Department to provide swimming lessons to families in need;
  • Pipestone County Historical Society to bring history alive with the help of electronics and visual presentations outside of the museum; and
  • Pipestone Forward to purchase a new commercial refrigerator and dishwasher for Senior Dining and Meals on Wheels at the Pipestone Senior Center located in the historic Carnegie Library.
Pipestone code club   november 10.2019 (swif)

Grant brings Digital Discovery Makerspace to Meinders Community Library

November 10, 2019
Source: Southwest Initiative Foundation

Kids had the chance to learn the secrets to creating their favorite games, apps and websites by playing around with computer programming at Code Club hosted by Meinders Community Library in Pipestone over the summer. Pipestone Area Community Foundation (PACF) granted $5,000 to launch the Code Club and make other digital updates.

“Without the grant, we wouldn’t have been able to do this,” said library director Jody Wacker, who is also a board member of PACF.

The money helped Meinders Library create an entire Digital Discovery Makerspace. Staff purchased hardware and software, including Code Club, a curriculum that introduces people to computer programming.

Research on closing the opportunity gap for kids living in poverty shows engagement in the K-12 years, both in and out of school, helps our kids thrive. Through local community foundation grants like Pipestone Area Community Foundation’s support for Code Club, southwest Minnesota is embracing Grow Our Own, a cradle-to-career approach to closing the opportunity gap.

“We’d been thinking about offering this for awhile because coding is a skill we’re looking to develop in youth,” said children’s librarian Emily Blaeser, who coordinates Code Club. “We had 21 kids sign up, and the first couple weeks had new kids every week.”

Emily has no prior computer programming experience and said one of the great things about the curriculum is how it encourages kids to practice problem solving and work together, not rely on adults or experts. “The kids are bouncing ideas off each other, helping each other with problems. Often the older kids are willing to help the younger kids. We’re the cheerleaders,” Emily said, referring to herself and a volunteer who is a technology teacher at the elementary school. “We basically are there to put in codes when they pass a level.”

Code Club is a fun way to introduce kids to one of the most important skills in the 21st century economy. They get a taste of computer programming, learn the fundamentals of logic and are better equipped to function the new economy.

Code Club also fills a need to engage kids at an age when they may not have a lot of other options in town. “We have these kids who are 10 to 12 years old who are kind of left out. As a community, we are better at programming for younger kids,” said Jody, the library director. “Pipestone, for how small it is, has a lot to offer. If we can open it up and make it feel as if there’s something for everybody, make it little more vibrant, that’s how we’re going to keep our kids.”
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Harmon Park Restoration

The Foundation's largest project to date was the restoration of Harmon Park. The Foundation raised and put $220,000 into the park, bringing it back to life as a gathering place for recreation to be enjoyed by residents and visitors. Harmon Park was rededicated by the City of Pipestone on June 23, 2012.

To read more about this project, click on the following link: