St. Olaf College | News

St. Olaf, Carleton donate $160,000 to the City of Northfield

Leadership from St. Olaf College, Carleton College and the City of Northfield stand for a photo.
(L-R) Northfield Finance Director Brenda Angelstad, Carleton Vice President and Treasurer Eric Runestad, Carleton President Alison Byerly, Northfield Mayor Rhonda Pownell ’93, St. Olaf President Susan Rundell Singer, St. Olaf Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Mike Berthelsen, and Northfield City Administrator Ben Martig.

On November 30, St. Olaf College and Carleton College made their annual donation to the City of Northfield at City Hall in the Council Chambers.

St. Olaf President Susan Rundell Singer, Carleton President Alison Byerly, St. Olaf Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Mike Berthelsen, and Carleton Vice President and Treasurer Eric Runestad presented two checks of $80,000 — totalling $160,000 — to Mayor Rhonda Pownell ’93, City Administrator Ben Martig, and Finance Director Brenda Angelstad. 

“This historic tradition between the City of Northfield, Carleton College, and St. Olaf illustrates our bond and commitment as active members of the community,” says Rundell Singer. “We are thankful for the continuous collaboration and partnership over the years and those to come.”

Northfield provides the nearly 5,000 college students who call it home for the academic year with restaurants, shopping, and emergency and professional services. Students enjoy local employment, internships, and volunteer opportunities within the community that expand their collegiate experience.

St. Olaf and Carleton are the two largest local employers in both Northfield and Rice County, employing more than 1,500 people combined. They are also two of the city’s top 10 property tax payers in addition to spending over $900,000 combined on municipal services such as sewer, water, waste removal, and more. 

“Carleton and St. Olaf benefit greatly by our location in Northfield,” Byerly says, “and we are proud to help support the city that many of us call home. Our students and their families, our faculty and staff, and alumni who choose to remain in the area form deep bonds with this community. We are grateful for the strong, more than century-old partnership between Northfield and our two colleges.”

The annual gift dates back to the 1920s, when Carleton and St. Olaf were among the first colleges in the United States to make such a gift. 

“Both St. Olaf and Carleton are excellent partners for our community,” Pownell says. “The City appreciates all that they do and bring to the community. They put our community on the map internationally in an extraordinary way by bringing people to town who would potentially never hear of Northfield in any other way. Thank you for your partnership and the multiple ways you work in collaboration to enhance our community.”

The Northfield community benefits from the students, employees, and visitors St. Olaf and Carleton bring. The students, faculty, and staff are significant consumers and clients for local businesses, and provide countless volunteer hours for local schools and organizations. In the 2022–23 academic year, 994 unique Carleton students engaged in the community through volunteer programs, internships, work study, and nonprofits, according to data from the Center for Community and Civic Engagement (CCCE). In total, Carleton students contributed 46,718 hours to local communities that year through programs and projects supported by the CCCE. Last year, St. Olaf had 802 students participate in Academic Civic Engagement (ACE) courses, which encourage students to learn in a community context and apply their education within real-world situations.

Bon Appétit, which provides food and dining services for St. Olaf and Carleton, also spends more than $1 million in the community each year on local produce, meat, and dairy. Carleton provides an additional $20,000 each year to the Northfield community in sponsorship funding and in-kind contributions.

St. Olaf and Carleton family members also either live in Northfield and are active in the community or visit Northfield regularly in order to attend festivities, competitions, recitals, concerts, award ceremonies, and commencements. These visitors and community members, as well as the thousands of prospective students and their families who visit each year, frequent local hotels, restaurants, and shops. Both colleges host a large amount of athletic, art, and musical offerings every year as well, which are almost always free and open to the public.