Grant Guidelines

The Initiative Foundation awards grants across the 14 counties and two Native nations of Central Minnesota. Grants are provided for projects and programs that advance shared missions to empower people across Central Minnesota to build a thriving economy, vibrant communities, and a lasting culture of generosity.

Initiative Foundation-hosted Partner Funds award grants based on specific priorities. See Partner Fund grant opportunities.

Grant Eligibility

Innovation and Economic Development Funds

Innovation Fund and economic development grant applicants must be 501(c)(3) nonprofits, school districts, or local units of government that serve Benton, Cass, Chisago, Crow Wing, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Pine, Sherburne, Stearns, Todd, Wadena, and/or Wright counties, and/or the Native nations of the Leech Lake and Mille Lacs Bands of Ojibwe within the boundaries of the 14-county region served by the Initiative Foundation.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact a program officer (Don Hickman, Nicole Clements, Jessy Beto) to explore your fit for this funding opportunity.

Proposals that focus on at least one of the following areas will be given priority consideration:

  • Capacity-building support for nonprofits, with priority to those addressing urgent needs and/or the needs of low-income communities. This includes support for business planning, fund development, training, or pilot programming.
  • Cost share for projects intended to create behavioral change associated with advancing diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • Advancement of community-based strategies to address regional workforce shortages in sectors which lead to family-sustaining wages.
  • Support for local and regional community and economic development entities advancing early-stage feasibility or pilot projects.

Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis with awards occurring quarterly. You will be notified of your application’s status within two weeks of the close of each quarterly grant round.

2024 Innovation Fund Application Deadlines:

  • Quarter 1: Feb. 9
  • Quarter 2: May 10
  • Quarter 3: Aug. 9
  • Quarter 4: Nov. 8

Grants seldom exceed $7,500 and are not intended to provide ongoing support. The grant process is highly competitive.

Ineligible Expenses

Innovation and Economic Development Funds

Funding requests from outside the Initiative Foundation’s geographic service area will not be considered. Individuals are not eligible to apply for grant funding. The following expenses are ineligible and will NOT be considered for funding: 

  • Grants or reimbursements to individuals and businesses. 
  • Expenses incurred prior to the receipt of a grant award. 
  • Capital expenses (e.g., buildings, equipment, vehicles, etc.). 
  • Programs or projects that DO NOT directly benefit residents in the Initiative Foundation’s 14-county service area.
  • Replacement of or substitution for government funding. 
  • Religious activities. 
  • Lobbying or campaigning for a candidate, issue or referendum vote. 
  • Development or purchase of school curriculum or support for school athletic programs. 
  • Out-of-state travel. 

Healthcare, arts and historic preservation are not focus areas for the Initiative Foundation’s discretionary grants. Potential applicants are encouraged to speak with staff before beginning an application associated with one of these areas.  

Partner Fund Grants

A significant share of grantmaking is funded by the Initiative Foundation’s hosted Partner Funds, a robust source of generosity for the region. Each of these funds has specific priority areas and varying grant schedules. We encourage you to explore our hosted funds and their grantmaking parameters to see if they’re a fit for your project.

Current Grantees: Financial Reports

The Financial Report Form is for organizations currently receiving a grant. Refer to the provided instructions for next steps.

Grant Questions

Staff support typically is available from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday.

Initiative Foundation staff members are sensitive to varying levels of experience in completing applications. We encourage you to reach out if you should have eligibility questions or need additional assistance.

Don Hickman

Don Hickman

Vice President for Community & Workforce Development (320) 631-2043
Nicole Clements

Nicole Clements

Nonprofit Development Program Officer (320) 631-2048