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Learn how brothers Kip and Jeff are carrying on their parents’ mission to support the City of Wadena through their family foundation.

Brothers C.J. “Kip” and Jeff Browne value family traditions.

From carrying on their family’s legacy as third generation bankers and owners of Wadena State Bank, to honoring their father’s mission of supporting the city, they are all about keeping their family traditions alive.

Their father Jack Browne loved Wadena. He knew what it took to keep a small town like Wadena thriving and made sure to pass that on to his five children, specifically his two sons, who still call Wadena home.

My dad always said the community has been very good to him and so giving back was a way to repay the community for the success he had at Wadena State Bank.

Jeff Browne, Current Executive Vice President, Wadena State Bank

For decades Jack served his community as president and owner of Wadena State Bank (a role he took over from his father W. J. Browne) and later as dedicated giver and supporter. Not long after retiring and selling the bank to Kip and Jeff, Jack made the decision to grow his philanthropy by creating the Jack and Alvida Browne Family Foundation with his beloved wife.

In partnership with the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation, the couple established their family foundation in 1999 with a $1 million endowment to the greater community of Wadena and a mission to “help give back.”

“I think my folks were the first ones to set up a foundation in Wadena years ago,” said Kip, Jack and Alvida’s eldest son and president of Wadena State Bank.

Their gift inspired other families and institutions such as the hospital, high school, technical college and City of Wadena to all establish foundations to further support their community.

Continuing Their Father’s Legacy

Alvida Browne age 101 with 7 week old great grand daughter Jovi Winegarden
Alvida Browne, age 101, with 7-week-old great-granddaughter

Since 1999, the Jack and Alvida Browne Family Foundation has awarded over $1.3 million in grants to nearly 40 community organizations and nonprofits in the area. The fund’s generosity has supported initiatives such as scholarships, a golf course, water systems, splash pad and fire truck.

When Jack passed away in 2009, his wife Alvida, who is now 101, worked closely with her two sons to make sure they carried on her husband’s legacy of investing in Wadena.

We have been able to support a lot of wonderful projects here with the foundation and the bank,” Jeff said. “The bank itself has donated a lot back to the community; typically if the Browne Foundation supports something, the bank will too.”

Of all the initiatives the family’s foundation has supported over the years, the wellness center stands out to them the most.

“The wellness center was a $12 million project initiated as a result of the tornado we had in 2010, and we raised something like $2.8 million,” said Jeff. “The wellness center was kind of the springboard of getting our community to where it is today.”

Since being rebuilt, the center houses a racquetball court, sauna, weight room and more. It's one of the main attractions and gathering spots in the surrounding area.

According to the brothers, a facility of this size isn’t something you’d often see in a town of 4,335 people, but with the development, they have been able to draw people from surrounding towns.

In addition to helping support landmarks such as the wellness center, the Browne family’s bank has also had its hand in helping launch many Wadena businesses such as Oma’s Bread, Drastic Measures Brewing, El Mariachi Authentic Mexican Restaurant and Owly Coffee Co.

“I think my dad invested back in the community because he could financially afford to do so,” said Jeff. “We are seeing the results of that investment. The bank is growing and doing well and the community is doing well. We have found a way to be involved in nearly everything that happens in our town.”

A New Generation of Giving

Giving is a tradition both Kip and Jeff are working to pass down to their sons and daughters, some of whom have also gone into the family business.

Kip made it a priority to find ways to get his children involved in the family foundation and Jeff decided to start a foundation of his own.

“There’s a comfort level working with the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation,” said Jeff. “Having that relationship over the years and seeing the returns, transparency, assets under management led me to continue work with the Foundation.”

“I’m doing this as a result of what my dad did,” said Jeff. “Whether I would have done it on my own, who knows, but it definitely planted the seed for me when he set up a fund.”

To learn how you can open a foundation with the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation, call 651.224.5463 or email philanthropy@spmcf.org to contact one of our gift planners.

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