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Awarding $1 Million Annually

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The Initiative Foundation awards about $1 million annually in grants to qualifying organizations in Central Minnesota.

Guided by our three-year strategic plan and focus areas, the Initiative Foundation awards grants to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, governments and schools in our service area.

Nearly 85 percent of grants awarded originate from two programs: our Nonprofit Organizational Development program and our Thriving Communities InitiativeAdditional grant support comes from the Initiative Foundation's Innovation Fund or its Partner Funds.

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It's All About Community

All grants from the Innovation Fund must support projects that address at least one of the following areas:

  • Help small businesses and social enterprises through access to technical assistance, mentorship, and education efforts.  The foundation is especially interested in supporting minority business ownership and/or job creation in areas of concentrated poverty.
  • Help communities address opportunities or barriers to business growth and creation or retention of quality jobs.
  • Support activities that that lead to improved skills and employment or advancement in growing sectors for future, displaced, or underemployed workers.
  • Support community-based early childhood efforts to advance literacy, school readiness and access to dental services for children in poverty.
  • Help nonprofits that have a core focus on poverty become more effective or efficient through strategic planning, staff development, or board training.
  • Support activities that cultivate the next generation of leaders working and living in our region.
  • Support planning or start-up funds for community-based amenities or events that support a strategic plan to help attract and retain skilled workers and young families.
  • Help communities respond to and recover from significant local natural disasters.

2017 Innovation Fund Review Schedule

Letter of Inquiry (LOI)
due:
Notification of invitation to submit
full proposal or decline no later than:
Full Proposal Due:
Jan. 6, 2017 Jan. 20 Feb. 24
March 31 April 14 May 12
July 14 Jul. 28 Aug. 25
Oct. 6 Oct. 20 Nov. 17

You can verify a project's eligibility by selecting the Grant Guidelines tab above.

Once you’ve confirmed that your project fits within the guidelines, you can select the Apply/Login tab above to use the Initiative Foundation's online grant system to create an account, complete an eligibility quiz, submit inquiries and proposals, review your application history and submit grant reports.

Reviewing grant reports

The following documents are for organizations currently receiving a grant. Once completed, refer to the provided instructions for next steps.

> Financial Report Form

Questions?

For more information, or to submit your report early please contact us by email at grants@ifound.org or by calling (320) 632-9255 or toll free (877) 632-9255.


Regardless of circumstances, the Initiative Foundation cannot provide grants to individuals or businesses.

2017 Innovation Fund Grant Guidelines

The Initiative Foundation makes grants for projects and programs that advance our mission to unlock the power of central Minnesota people to build and sustain thriving communities.  Foundation grant making supports a range of core programming (including community-led coalitions to advance early childhood development, community and economic development, and nonprofits which address poverty), through community and donor advised funds, and the Innovation Fund.  For more information on these opportunities visit our website at: www.ifound.org.

Eligibility

Eligible applicants must be 501(c)(3) nonprofits, school districts or local units of government that serve the people and communities within Benton, Cass, Chisago, Crow Wing, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Pine, Sherburne, Stearns, Todd, Wadena, and/or Wright Counties.  Funding requests for outside of this area will not be considered.  Individuals are ineligible to apply for funds.

Priorities

Our “Innovation Fund” grants are awarded quarterly through a competitive review process.  Grants seldom exceed $10,000, and we generally fund 50 percent or less of a project budget.  Priority consideration is given to projects that have local support.  Innovation Fund grants support program or capacity-building projects which address at least one of the following priorities:

  • Help small businesses and social enterprises through access to technical assistance, mentorship, and education efforts.  The foundation is especially interested in supporting minority business ownership and/or job creation in areas of concentrated poverty.
  • Help communities address opportunities or barriers to business growth and creation or retention of quality jobs.
  • Support activities that that lead to improved skills and employment or advancement in growing sectors for future, displaced, or underemployed workers.
  • Support community-based early childhood efforts to advance literacy and improve school readiness.
  • Help nonprofits that have a core focus on poverty become more effective or efficient through strategic planning, staff development, or board training.
  • Support activities that cultivate the next generation of leaders working and living in our region.
  • Support planning or start-up funds for community-based amenities or events that support a strategic plan to help attract and retain skilled workers and young families.
  • Help communities respond to and recover from significant local natural disasters.

Ineligible Expenses

The following expenses are ineligible and will not be considered for Innovation 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.
  • Arts, health-related and media production applications are discouraged unless they directly address at least one of the priorities listed above.

Application Process

Letter of Inquiry (LOI)
Qualified organizations interested in applying to the Initiative Foundation are required to complete an electronic Letter of Inquiry, which can be found at www.ifound.org on the “Community” page under “Grants”.

 Inquiries are accepted on an ongoing basis and reviewed based on the timeline below. If a proposed project is selected, applicants are invited to submit a full proposal.  Many factors affect the decision of whether or not to invite a full proposal, including but not limited to available funding.  The Foundation reserves the right to decline a request for any reason (including poor history of report submissions for prior grants).

Full Proposals
Proposals are accepted based on the timeline below:

Letter of Inquiry (LOI) due:

Notification of invitation to submit full proposal 
or decline no later than:

Full proposal due:

January 6, 2017 January 20 February 24
March 31 April 14 May 12
July 14 July 28 August 25
October 6 October 20 November 17


Full proposals are generally reviewed within 30 to 45 days.

The Initiative Foundation strives to treat our applicants with courtesy and respect. Staff members are sensitive to varying levels of experience in completing applications, and therefore encourage open communication with our staff for assistance.  

Once you’ve confirmed that your project fits within the guidelines, you can use the Initiative Foundation's online grant system to create an account, complete an eligibility quiz, submit inquiries and proposals, review your application history and submit grant reports. To use the system, click one of the buttons below:

Start InquiryAccount Login

Click Start Inquiry to create an account and submit your first inquiry or to start a new inquiry. Click Account Login to return to an existing inquiry/proposal, access application history or submit a grant report.

Reviewing grant reports

The following documents are for organizations currently receiving a grant. Once completed, refer to the provided instructions for next steps.

> Financial Report Form


Questions?

For more information, or to submit your report early please contact us by email at grants@ifound.org or by calling (320) 632-9255 or toll free (877) 632-9255.

 
 

Connect: 

Don Hickman

 Don Hickman
Vice President for Community
&
 Workforce Development
dhickman@ifound.org
(320) 631-2043

Kendra Botzek

Kendra Botzek
Grants & Accounts 
Payable Coordinator

kbotzek@ifound.org
(320) 631-2058 

Insight & Information

Since 1986, the Foundation has awarded nearly 5,000 grants totaling about $31 million. The average grant award is about $5,000. Visit our Grants Awards page to learn more.

In all of its grant-making efforts, the Foundation subscribes to the Minnesota Council on Foundation’s Principles for Grantmakers.

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