Partnerships – Engelstad Foundation

The Engelstad Family Foundation was created in 2002 by Ralph & Betty Engelstad for the purpose of partnering to create solutions in medical research, improving day to day living for people with disabilities and raising the possibilities for high risk individuals.


Three Square

Three Square is a food bank founded by Eric Hilton to assist underserved and underfed people in Las Vegas. What started as a basic food bank has turned into a cornerstone of services for Nevada. The Engelstad family originally partnered with Three Square to facilitate the building of a commercial kitchen to enable more efficient food services. Since this original venture, the Foundation has gone on to fund summer backpack projects, summer camp, and most recently a matching gift to secure Three Squares’ endowment.

University of Nevada Las Vegas

The Engelstads’ relationship with UNLV began in 2009, with the creation of the Engelstad Scholars Program, which offers a full tuition scholarship for students regardless of their chosen field. These students are, however, required to accumulate 100 service hours with several chosen non-profits in the area. To date, Engelstad Scholars has proudly graduated 65 students, and aims to enroll 100 students. In 2016, the Engelstad Foundation also agreed to become one of the founding community members for UNLV’s first accredited Medical School—in which they also aim to enroll 100 scholarship students.

Spread the Word Nevada

Spread the Word is a children’s literacy organization dedicated to helping all children develop the reading skills they need to succeed. The organization “changes lives one book at a time” by distributing new and gently used books to children within Southern Nevada’s low-income, at-risk communities. The Engelstad Foundation has given nearly $1.2 million to support Spread the Word Nevada’s efforts, which have helped place books into the hands and homes of more than 467,000 low-income youth in Southern Nevada.

Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada

Legal Aid serves residents of the Las Vegas area who need specialized legal assistance, but are unable to afford an attorney. The Engelstad Foundation has been instrumental as a major donor to Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada. Recently, the Foundation’s finanicla support enabled the construction of a new building geared toward Legal Aid clients who are dealing with senior, housing, guardianship and citizenship legal issues, and dependent on public transportation to get around.

College of Southern Nevada

No higher education institution in the state of Nevada had a Respiratory Graduate Program until the Engelstad Foundation funded one at Community College of Southern Nevada. The Engelstad family recognized that respiratory diseases were a major concern in the Las Vegas area, and their support for the Respiratory Graduate Program at CSN grew from this concern. Their support also includes a focus on helping older students to change their career paths.

Opportunity Village

Opportunity Village is the first non-profit that the Engelstad family partnered with, and is a major recipient of Foundation funds to this day. The relationship began when Ralph hired employees with disabilities through Opportunity Village’s work training program, and since then the Engelstad family has supported a variety of vocational as well as cognitive training programs. Most recently, they funded a new campus in the northwest part of the Las Vegas Valley. Currently, plans are in place to construct Betty’s Village, named in honor of Betty Engelstad, which will house people with disabilities who need a little extra support.

Andre Agassi Foundation

Andre Agassi had a dream to give high-level educational opportunities to lower-income and at-risk students. As life-long Las Vegans, Andre and the Engelstads both shared a vision for quality education for all in southern Nevada. Their most recent collaboration was a matching endowment gift to be used in perpetuity towards educational excellence.

North Dakota / Minnesota

University of North Dakota

The Engelstad Foundation has been central to the development of University of North Dakota, particularly its hockey program and scholarships. Ralph was a proud alum of UND, and a tireless Fighting Sioux supporter. The Foundation was responsible for the building of the Ralph Engelstad Hockey Arena, now fondly known as "The Ralph." It is anecdotally known as the best collegiate hockey facility in the country. Additionally, the Foundation provides academic support in the form of scholarships to students who would be unable to attend UND without financial assistance.

Sacred Heart Church and School

Over the years, The Engelstad Foundation has made major gifts to the school’s library and their “New Day Campaign” aimed at stabilizing and increasing student enrollment. Most recently, the Foundation endowed a $2.5 million grant to fund a 10,865-square foot addition to the school in East Grand Forks. Betty Engelstad, matriarch of the Engelstad family and widow of Ralph Engelstad, is a 1950 graduate of Sacred Heart School.

Grand Forks' Community Violence Intervention Center

The Director of Grand Forks' Community Violence Intervention Center has said that a recent $3 million grant from the Engelstad Foundation “will have a huge impact on the organization's efforts to put a stop to community violence.” The Community Violence Intervention Center provides a variety of services dedicated to making Grand Forks a place where all people (women, men, and children) are safe, respected, and free. Their programs focus on helping adults and children affected by domestic and sexual violence, stalking, bullying, as well as victims of crime.

Forward Foundation

The Engelstad Foundation has donated upwards of $210,000 to the Forward Foundation, the non-profit arm of Bank Forward. Their mission is to support children experiencing life-threatening health crises by providing monetary assistance to their families, to eliminating financial obstacles in order to radically transform their future, and help them “fast forward” to their goals in life. One hundred percent of the donation will directly benefit the children served.

Farm Rescue

Farm Rescue was founded in 2006, and has helped 350 families since its inception. The non-profit organization’s mission is to help farmers who have experienced a major illness, injury, or natural disaster by providing the necessary equipment and manpower to plant, harvest, or hay their crops. Farm Rescue helps farm families in North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Minnesota, and Iowa. The Engelstad Foundation has given $95,000 to Farm Rescue, in honor of Ralph and Betty Engelstad’s deep family roots in agriculture and farming.

City of Thief River Falls

The Ralph Engelstad Arena was a gift from Ralph Engelstad to the city of Thief River Falls. Since its opening in 2003, the arena has enabled this city of just under 9,000 to transform into a significant hockey hub. A native of Thief River and a former college hockey player, Engelstad and the Engelstad Foundation provided the bulk of the funding for the $15 million building, which now hosts everything form youth hockey programs and local high school teams to a Junior A franchise.