That simple word evokes an image of an agreement to do something together. Teamwork. Something bigger than the sum of its parts. Collaboration that benefits everyone.

At Winona State University, one of the first things that comes to mind with the mention of "partnership" is the university's long and trusted relationship with Merchants Bank.

Merchants was founded in 1875, just a decade-and-a-half after the first classes were held at the Winona State Normal School. For almost as many years, Merchants has done more than supported a number of projects, events, and initiatives. Merchants has shared Winona State's mission to improve lives in southeast Minnesota and the world.

The partnership between Merchants Bank and Winona State is exemplified through the Merchants Match to support the Integrated Wellness Complex. Not only did Merchants make a lead gift, but the bank also challenged Winona State's many supporters to step forward through its offer to match individual gifts of up to $1,000 to the IWC.

The Merchants Match has been a huge success. More than 400 donors successfully met the challenge by reaching the Merchants Match goal of $200,000. Of those, 169 gave $1,000 or more and have been recognized on the donor wall at the entrance of the IWC. The larger honor comes from the thousands of students who visit the Integrated Wellness Complex each day.

The partnership between Merchants and Winona State has been transformative. With its gift, Merchants demonstrated faith and trust in the university, its mission, and its role in the region. The bank also set an example for future partnerships, which will become increasingly important as the university moves into an environment of continually decreasing public funding.

More importantly, the Merchants Match is a gift made not in isolation, but one that can be shared by hundreds of alumni, friends, faculty, staff, and students who have established their own partnership with Winona State.

There's still time! Gifts of $1,000 or more to the IWC may still be recognized on the donor wall. Make your gift by calling 507.457.5020, or donate online at