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College Possible Minnesota recently received a record $1 million donation from an anonymous donor, the latest Twin Cities nonprofit to get an unexpected large-scale gift.

The St. Paul-based organization, which helps boost the number of students from underrepresented communities going to college, said the money will help the nonprofit expand the number of students it serves.

"It's a reinforcement and recognition of the importance of our mission," said JR Tomkinson, College Possible Minnesota's executive director. "It's really substantial for us."

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the gap between high- and low-income students graduating college has widened, he said, showing a need for programs to help increase the number of diverse students and first-generation college students. Last year, the nonprofit worked with more than 2,000 high school students, 85 high schools and colleges, and more than 3,500 college students in Minnesota.

"Supports like College Possible are needed more than ever," Tomkinson said.

The programs are free to eligible students, thanks largely to philanthropy. College Possible Minnesota, which has a $5.6 million annual budget, relies on donations for the bulk of its revenue. The anonymous $1 million donor gave an "unrestricted" gift, which means the nonprofit isn't required to use the money for a specific purpose or program in Minnesota.

While College Possible is headquartered in St. Paul, it operates regional sites across the country. Minnesota has the largest program.

It's the latest Twin Cities nonprofit to receive a large anonymous donation.

In Minneapolis, the Washburn Center for Children recently received an anonymous $3 million donation to help the mental health provider. Appetite for Change, a Minneapolis nonprofit that increases access to healthy foods, also got a record $1.5 million anonymous donation. And earlier this year, an unnamed benefactor gave $56 million to Minnesota Public Radio, the largest donation in the media organization's 55-year history.