Strengthen ND is a dynamic, multi-faceted, and well-connected organization that works across North Dakota (ND) to elevate nonprofits and rural communities to support a high quality of life and resources for vulnerable populations through community development. In 2015, Megan Laudenschlager founded Strengthen ND in response to the growing disparities being faced by rural North Dakota communities. By focusing on providing nonprofit and rural community capacity building opportunities, advancing regional issues, and facilitating community solutions, Strengthen ND has been able to support and accelerate community development through its day-to-day work.
Strengthen ND has specifically been working throughout ND to aid nonprofits and rural communities with action planning, strategic planning, fundraising, project management, budgeting and financial management, succession planning, and grant writing through workshops and one-on-one coaching. Additionally, Strengthen ND has worked as an intermediary for several grantmaking organizations to facilitate proposal recruitment and development for charitable investments. Since September 2015, Strengthen ND has generated over $5.8 million of project proposals from rural communities for funding consideration from the Rural Community Grant Fund. Additionally, Strengthen ND has worked with Equinor (formerly Statoil) and the Northwest ND Community Foundation to help shape their short- and long-term community investment strategies. Furthermore, Strengthen ND was selected as the partner for ND Change Network, a systems change and leadership program developed by National Arts Strategies, because of its vast knowledge of ND.
Since 2017, Strengthen ND has worked with the community of Tuttle (central ND - population ~60) to obtain a $200,000 Bush Foundation Community Innovation grant to support the development of local foods strategies for economic development and vulnerable populations support. Through this work, Strengthen ND engaged with the National Endowment for the Arts to host the first Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design workshop in ND. Through this workshop, Strengthen ND was able to contract with national subject-matter experts to develop a robust economic development strategy based on local foods for the greater Kidder County area through the programming and amenities of the Tuttle Rural Innovation Center. Finally, Strengthen ND has undertaken advocacy initiatives at the local and state level, including serving as a founding member of the ND Local Foods Development Alliance and working with Northwest Landowners Association (private property and environmental rights) to craft their 2017 legislative agenda.