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Learn how the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation invests in community-led solutions.

Editor’s Note: You may have heard of a community foundation — but may not know what it is, or how it differs from other foundations. In this ongoing series, we will be breaking down the many aspects of a community foundation.

The truth is, no two community foundations are alike. Each has a different mission and aspirations for how they want to support their community or geographic area.

At the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation, we envision an equitable, just and vibrant Minnesota where all communities and people thrive. Through our work, we strive to inspire generosity, advocate for equity and invest in community-led solutions. This purpose serves as a guide to support greater Minnesota and the East Metro region, including Dakota, Ramsey and Washington counties.

One of the staples of our work is grantmaking. By definition, grantmaking is the awarding of grants, often distributed to nonprofit organizations and initiatives in an effort to address community needs.

Foundations obtain the funds that they grant in many different ways. For a community foundation, funds are sourced from individuals, families and organizations throughout the community and invested to grow over time, adding to the amount that can be granted out.

The Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation offers numerous grantmaking programs. Two of our most known and widely used are our competitive grants and grants recommended by our individual donors through donor advised funds (DAFs) or other funds.

Competitive Grants

One of the ways we invest in community-led solutions is through our competitive grantmaking. Each year we offer two rounds of grant applications to nonprofits through our Building Community Capacity grant program.

Our current grant opportunity includes funding for general operating support for organizations located wholly in the East Metro, support for specific East Metro-serving programs or projects, and capital support.

These grant opportunities are open to nonprofits meeting diverse community needs across the state, but primarily in the East Metro. We strongly encourage all interested applicants to contact a member of our Community Impact Grant Team before applying to ensure that the grant applied for fits their needs.

Over the years we have supported organizations doing great work in these areas of community vitality:

  • Community Connectedness

  • Human Services & Family Support

  • Education

  • Housing & Transportation

  • Economic Opportunity & Security

  • Health

In addition to the Building Community Capacity grant program, we also offer other grant opportunities, ranging from management improvement for small nonprofits to financial assistance for individuals, as well as resources such as application dates, grant guidelines and sponsor agreement forms to ensure nonprofits have the tools they need to successfully apply.

Our Management Improvement Fund (MIF) makes grants for technical assistance and consultation to help improve the capacity and management of small to midsize nonprofit organizations with operating budgets under $5 million.

Grants up to $10,000 can be used to offset the expenses of hiring a consultant for a variety of capacity building activities, including but not limited to organizational assessments, strategic planning and board development. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and are open now.

Grants from Donor Advised Funds

As a community foundation, we help individuals give back to the community through a variety of charitable giving tools. The most popular is a donor advised fund or DAF. A DAF is a charitable giving tool that provides donors with the flexibility to recommend grants to several different causes and organizations. By partnering with the Foundation to open up a DAF, donors can focus on their giving, while we handle the accounting, legal and investment services.

Other fund types include field of interest funds, endowments, designated funds, unrestricted funds and scholarships.

Through the Foundation, our fundholders recommended grants for an additional $50 million to over 2,000 organizations last year. We have also expanded our reach and granted to organizations in nearly every county in the state.

Our community is our compass. Providing financial support through grant funding from competitive grants and donors is just one of the many ways we work to create a more vibrant Minnesota.

To learn more about the Foundation’s grantmaking work, future grant opportunities and our community impact, join our e-news mailing list.

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