Are Corporate Affordable Housing Grants Self-Serving or Altruistic? Does It Matter?

The Polaris Foundation recently announced a $300,000 grant for an affordable housing complex in Roseau, Minnesota. The grant went to the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund, and there will be 41 units in the new apartment building, which is scheduled to open next summer. This particular housing organization launched a pilot program to respond to shortages in affordable housing in areas with great job growth but not enough places for new workers to live.

This grant is a good example of a corporate funder giving in its own local community, since a major Polaris manufacturing and engineering center is located in Roseau. There are a few other locations across the country that Polaris pays attention to with its grantmaking, as well:

  • Osceola, Wisconsin
  • Roseau, Minnesota
  • Spirit Lake, Idaho
  • Vermillion, South Dakota
  • Wyoming, Minnesota
  • Wilmington, Ohio
  • Medina, Minnesota
  • Plymouth, Minnesota
  • Milford, Iowa
  • Huntsville, Alabama

However, it’s hard to deny the fact that grants like this one, while seemingly altruistic, have a self-serving purpose as well. Which might be just fine. 

“A primary mission of the Polaris Foundation is community development in areas where Polaris has facilities and where our employees work, live, and play,” Stacy Bogart, president of the Polaris Foundation, said in a press release. “With Tamarack Place, the Polaris Foundation hopes to enhance the quality of life in Roseau and ensure the city has a vibrant selection of premium residential opportunities for a growing workforce.”

Affordable housing philanthropy is an excellent area of giving for corporate funders looking to meet its workforce needs. Workers in cities across America are finding it hard to pay the rent when they relocate for jobs. Polaris’ $300,000 might not help existing poor families get off the street, but it may support new workers and stimulate the local economy, which helps a community thrive.

Related: The Foundation of a Car Maker Just Gave Big for Housing. What's Up With That?

A leader in the powersports industry with annual sales topping $4.5 billion, Polaris makes ATVs, snowmobiles, motorcycles, and even military off-road vehicles. It has a corporate foundation that awards grants in the following interest areas: youth safety, community development, and environment & land access. In 2006, Polaris launched its T.R.A.I.L.S. grants program for ATV clubs, associations and grassroots groups at the local, state, and national levels. To learn more about Polaris Foundation grantmaking, check out the company website.