Grant Guidelines, Eligibility
New Partnership Streamlines Grant Application Process
The Initiative Foundation has completed the transition from its legacy grant-making technology platform to its new partnership with Foundant Technologies. We trust that you will appreciate the new system and its ease of use.
All current and future Initiative Foundation and Partner Fund grantees will need to create a new account. To learn more about the registration and one-time account creation process, watch our video.
Potential grantees must create an account and login to apply for a grant.)
Reference these tutorials to guide you through the account setup and application process:
Reports on Past Grants
If you have a final report due on a past grant, you can expect to receive an Initiative Foundation email to explain the process. If you have further questions, feel free to send an email to . Thank you!
2022 Innovation Fund Guidelines
The Initiative Foundation makes grants through its Innovation Fund for projects and programs that advance our mission to empower people across Central Minnesota to build a thriving economy, vibrant communities and a lasting culture of generosity.
Innovation Fund grants primarily support start-up or capacity-building projects across the 14 counties of Central Minnesota. Applications to the Innovation Fund are accepted on an ongoing basis, with quarterly awards made through a competitive review process.
2022 Review Schedule
|Application Deadline:||Notification of approval or denial:|
|Feb. 7||Feb. 28|
|May 6||May 31|
|Aug. 5||Aug. 31|
|Nov. 4||Nov. 30|
Grant applicants must be 501(c)(3) nonprofits, school districts, or local units of government that serve the people and communities in Benton, Cass, Chisago, Crow Wing, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Pine, Sherburne, Stearns, Todd, Wadena, and/or Wright counties, and the sovereign tribal nations of the Leech Lake and Mille Lacs Bands of Ojibwe. Funding requests for use outside of this geography will not be considered. Individuals are not eligible to apply for grant funds.
Innovation Fund grants seldom exceed $5,000. We typically receive many times more applications than we can fund, so our process is highly competitive. Priority consideration is given to projects that have local financial support. The Initiative Foundation also strives to allocate our grant resources around our entire region, so geographical diversity is a consideration in our review. Applicants are encouraged to contact one of our program officers—Don Hickman, Chris Fastner or Zach Tabatt—to discuss proposal design and fit prior to submitting an application.
Proposals that focus on at least one of the following areas will be given priority consideration:
- General operating support for nonprofits addressing the urgent needs of vulnerable populations impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Cost share for projects intended to create behavioral change associated with combating racism, and advancing diversity, equity and inclusion.
- Advancement of strategies to address workforce shortages and/or re-training by those displaced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Support for nonprofits engaged in business planning, fund development, training or other capacity building initiatives that advance economic security for those they serve.
- Support for local and regional community and economic development entities advancing early-stage feasibility or pilot projects.
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.
- Out-of-state travel.
Once you’ve confirmed that your project fits within the guidelines, you can select the "Apply/Login" button to create an account, complete an eligibility quiz, submit an application, review your application history and submit grant reports.
Additional Grant-Supported Opportunities
In addition to the Innovation Fund, the Initiative Foundation has two other paths to award grants.
- Partner Funds: A significant share of Initiative Foundation grantmaking is funded by donor-advised or community-based Partner Funds. View priority areas for each fund and their granting schedule. Each of these funds has specific priority areas and varying grant schedules.
- Program Grants: The Foundation makes a limited number of discretionary grants related to specific localities within the region, or specific high-priority program activities. Current examples include:
- Childcare Solutions, a partnership with First Children’s Finance to help pilot communities improve access to economically sustainable, quality affordable childcare.
- The Foundation is administering grants on behalf of the Minnesota Department of Education to support young children (age birth to 8) impacted by COVID.
- Support for the City of Becker/Sherburne County as they prepare for the decommissioning (closure) of the Sherburne County Coal Generation Facility and associated loss of the community’s primary tax base.
Additional Grant-Funded Programs
- Nonprofit Development Programs: Programs provide organizations with training on business topics and fund development to strengthen long-term resiliency. Learn more here.
- Initiators Fellowship: A two-year program providing a suite of supports to Greater Minnesota early-stage social entrepreneurs leading change in their community. Learn more here.
- Enterprise Academy Program: A training program for minority and income-eligible entrepreneurs. Learn more here.
The Initiative Foundation strives to treat applicants with courtesy and respect. Staff members are sensitive to varying levels of experience in completing applications and encourages open communication with applicants needing additional assistance.
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. Staff members are currently working remotely. Calls to the Initiative Foundation’s office will be forwarded to the appropriate person and will be answered in the order in which they are received.
Current Grantees: Financial Reports
The Financial Report Form is for organizations currently receiving a grant. Once completed, refer to the provided instructions for next steps.
2022 Grant Highlights
1st Quarter 2022 Grant Highlights
- Someplace Safe—General Operating Support for the Wadena Advocacy Office: $2,500 to support general operating expenses for programming and services provided by the Wadena Advocacy Office.
- Amherst H. Wilder Foundation—Minnesota Compass: $5,000 to provide annual support to Minnesota Compass, which provides community- and county-specific data to help track progress or disparities across critical measures of community health and vitality.
- Minnesota Council on Foundations—2022 Membership: $12,500 for 2022 membership dues.
- Anderson Center—Forum Scholarships: $10,000 to provide scholarships for private and nonprofit sector leaders to benefit from the array of professional development training offered by the Anderson Center.
- Boys & Girls Club of Central Minnesota—CareerSTART Program: $2,000 to support the CareerSTART program, which provides exploration, development and application of career paths for youth in grades kindergarten to grade 12.
- Friends of Career Solutions—Career Trek for Teens: $5,000 to support Career Trek, a career exploration program.
- Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest—2021-22 Finance Park Virtual Programming: $2,000 to support the Finance Park virtual program.
- Sakan Community Resource, Inc.—Families Prosper: $5,000 to prepare families and individuals for financial stability and homeownership with culturally informed services that lead to more stable and affordable housing.
- Community Dental Care—Workforce Pipeline Project: $10,000 to support a partnership with St. Cloud Technical and Community College to recruit, retain and place dental hygiene program graduates at the new Community Dental Care Clinic in Wright County.
- Jugaad Leadership Program: $6,000 to support networking and training for emerging leaders in the Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) community of Greater St. Cloud.
- Community Grassroots Solutions—Halal Meat Slaughterhouse Feasibility Study: $5,000 to support a feasibility analysis for a halal-certified meat processing facility to serve the Muslim population in Central Minnesota.
- Bridges of Hope—Resource Connection Services: $5,000 to support the Resource Connection Services program at Bridges of Hope.
- Community Aid of Elk River: $4,000 to support software research, acquisition and staff training for fund development.
- Sprout—Little Falls Local Food Collaborative Feasibility Study: $4,000 to support a feasibility study to identify linkages in the local foods value chain.
- Sourcewell—Students of Character Sponsorship: $1,000 to support the annual Students of Character celebration at Sourcewell.
- Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation—Recharge St. Cloud: $10,000 to support the Recharge St. Cloud electric vehicle expo.
- Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation—2022 Annual Investment: $25,000 to support the work of the Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation.
- Small Business Development Center at Central Lakes College—Technical Assistance for Small Business Success: $10,000 to support business planning and technical assistance.
- Chisago County Economic Development Authority—Highway 8 Strategic Framework: $7,500 to support community engagement and professional planning along the Highway 8 corridor to encourage thoughtful economic development.
- City of Sandstone—Pine County Logistics & Transportation Analysis: $5,000 to complete a study on railroad, highway, and other forms of transportation to provide tools to guide infrastructure investments to expand the area tax base and economic opportunities.
- Northern Waters Land Trust—Exploring Carbon Sequestration-Land Conservation Coordination in North Central Minnesota: $10,000 to explore the feasibility of creating an incentive program to support protection or restoration of forests that generate revenue for the property owner while also capturing carbon and buffering sensitive lands and waters. This grant was funded by the Morgan Family Foundation.
- Leech Lake Housing Authority—Leech Lake Housing Authority Homebuyer Program: $41,250 to support the Leech Lake Housing Authority's down payment assistance program, improving the resiliency of the community and supporting increased homeownership. This grant was funded by The Funders Network.
2022 Partner Fund Grant Highlights
1st Quarter 2022 Partner Fund Grant Highlights
Three Rivers Community Foundation
• Sherburne County Health & Human Services—Donation for Car Seats: $1,600
Three Rivers Community Foundation Scholarship Fund
The following grants were awarded for scholarships:
• Elk River High School: $7,500
• Rogers High School: $7,500
• Zimmerman High School: $4,000
• Ivan Sand High School: $1,500
• Spectrum High School: $1,500
Staples-Motley Area Community Foundation
• Sourcewell Students of Character—Platinum Event Sponsorship: $1,000
• Lakewood Health System Foundation—Night of Giving Venue Sponsor: $1,000
• City of Staples—Playground Project: $3,757
• City of Staples—Dower Lake Project: $7,621
Tollefson Scholarship Fund
• Pine City High School—Tollefson Scholarship: $15,000
Mary Jean Tillman Healthcare Scholarship Fund
• Little Falls Community High School—Mary Jean Tillman Healthcare Scholarship: $5,000
Irene Myres Memorial Endowed Scholarship Fund
• Pequot Lakes High School—Irene Myres Memorial Endowed Scholarship: $1,000
Silver Lining Scholarship Fund
• Little Falls Community High School—Silver Lining Scholarship Fund: $750
Dorn Family Fund
• Delano High School—Dorn Family Fund Scholarship: $1,100
Bert & Helen LeBlanc Legacy Scholarship Fund
• St. Cloud State University Foundation, Inc.—Bert and Helen LeBlanc Legacy Scholarship: $1,000
• Central Lakes College Foundation—Bert and Helen LeBlanc Legacy Scholarship: $500
Archie & Isabelle Powell Family Memorial Scholarship Fund
• Elk River High School—Archie & Isabel Powell Family Memorial Scholarship: $1,500
Sacred Heart School Area Endowment Fund
• Sacred Heart School Area Endowment Fund: $1,300
Staples Knights of Columbus Council #1803-Lloyd & Marion Giddings Scholarship Fund
• Staples & Motley Dollars for Scholars: $2,900
Manufacturing Fund of Central Minnesota
• Northeast Entrepreneur Fund, Inc.—Women's Business Alliance: $5,500
Cuyuna Lakes Education Foundation
• Cuyuna Lakes Education Foundation—Operating Support: $10,000
Albany Area Education Foundation
The following grants were awarded to the Albany Area School District:
• Middle School Science Advanced Hot Plate Stirrer: $1,000
• Multisensory and Game-based Learning: $500
• Music Department Computer Project: $1,000
• Social Emotional Learning within Multi-tiered System of Supports: $500
• Interval Timers: $939
• Digital Art, Graphic Design, and Publication: $1,630
• Getting Torqued with Diesel: $672
• Collaboration Space: $1,500
• Greenhouse: $1,625
• Growing Healthy Plants with Meters: $840
Braham Area Education Foundation
The following grants were awarded to Braham Area Schools:
• Lego Stop Motion Animation: $750
• Calming Items for Elementary Classrooms: $840
Bridges Manufacturing Workforce Development Fund
• Central Lakes College—Bridges Manufacturing Workforce Development Scholarship to Wyatt Bunting: $1,000
• Central Lakes College—Bridges Manufacturing Workforce Development Scholarship to Riley DeVriendt: $1,000
Bob & Pauline Johnson Memorial Scholarship Fund
• Isle High School—Scholarship: $3,000
Playing it Forward: The Kenneth and Evelyn Pinckney Young Musicians' Fund
The following grants were awarded to the Little Falls Community School District:
• Purchase of an Eastman Euphonium and Selmer Bass Clarinet: $3,195
• Instrument and Supplies for Music Program: $385
Paula & Chad Becker Fund
• Christ the King Catholic Church—Operating Support: $12,000
• Browerville Public Schools—High School Athletics: $2,000
• Southwest Minnesota State University—Wrestling Program: $2,000
• Saint John’s University—Wrestling Program: $2,000
• Delano Youth Baseball-Softball—2022 Cooperstown Baseball: $2,000
• Crow Wing County Lakes and Rivers Alliance—General Operating Support: $3,700
The Thrive Fund
• Milestones—2022 Disbursement: $6,000
Alternative Sources of Energy Fund
• Milaca Scholarship Foundation: $4,200
• Milaca High School Science Department: $1,400
Patrick and Jane Mitchell Family Fund
• Rocori Area Dollars for Scholars: $500
Beverly M. Pantzke Scholarship Fund
• Little Falls Community High School—Scholarships: $24,000
Anderson Brothers Family Fund
• Salvation Army—Food Pantry Donation: $1,000
Mark Wood Foundation
• Little Falls Community School—Lincoln Elementary School: $5,700
Paws & Claws Animal Shelter
• Paws & Claws Rescue & Resort—Operating Support: $1,700
Little Falls Scholarship Fund
• Little Falls Community High School—Scholarship: $3,300
William & Ethel Nelson Zimmerman Memorial Scholarship Fund
• Royalton School District—Scholarship: $1,600
Betty Ford Menzel Scholarship Fund
• Crosby-Ironton High School—Scholarships: $2,300
Shawn Grittner Memorial Fund
• St. Cloud Technical & Community College Foundation Fund—Scholarships: $1,100
Lake Region Conservation Club
• Hillman Area First Response Team—Operating Support Grant: $500
• Sullivan Lake First Response Team—Operating Support: $500
H. Eugene Menzel Scholarship Fund
• Aitkin Dollars for Scholars—Scholarships: $1,300
Artesian Homes Charitable Fund
• Pillager School District—Huskies Fishing Team: $1,000
• Pillager Booster Club—Grad Blast Committee 2022: $500
Corey Borg-Massanari Foundation
• Silverton San Juan County Ambulance Association, Inc.—Equipment and Supplies: $6,000
• Little Falls Community High School—Scholarships: $500
Skolmate Fund for the Welfare of Animals
• Paws & Claws Rescue & Resort—Operating Support: $1,500
• Morrison County Animal Humane Society—Operating Support: $1,500
To see the list of grantees from the Initiative Foundation partnership with the Minnesota Department of Education and the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) fund, click here.
Partner Fund Grant Rounds
The Initiative Foundation is proud to host a variety of Partner Funds for families, businesses, nonprofit organizations and volunteer-led groups. Our Partner Fund program allows local leaders to champion local causes while we provide the 501(c)(3) public charity infrastructure necessary for donor gifts to receive the highest possible charitable tax deduction. From community foundations to educational funds to special project and field-of-interest funds, the Initiative Foundation and its Partner Funds are working together to ensure strong and vibrant communities throughout Central Minnesota.
- For more information on starting a Partner Fund, contact Community Philanthropy Manager Kate Bjorge.
- For more information on applying for a Partner Fund grant, contact Program Specialist Kerie Thoma.
Keep Investing In
Thanks to our supporters and contributors for powering possible and investing in Central Minnesota. Keep the momentum going.
Insight & Information
Since 1986, the Foundation has awarded thousands of grants that have provided millions to the communities we serve. The average grant award is about $5,000. For an historic snapshot, see our Impact Update or our county-by-county investment activity.
In all of its grant-making efforts, the Foundation subscribes to the Minnesota Council on Foundation’s Principles for Grantmakers.
Visit our Grants Awards page to learn more.