Community Sharing Fund
The Community Sharing Fund is how the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation responds to emergency needs in our community.
The Fund partners with more than 100 community organizations to identify families and individuals facing short-term financial setbacks. Applications are only accepted from referring nonprofit organizations.
May 2023 Community Sharing Fund Update
Over the past several years, the Community Sharing Fund (CSF) has evolved to meet changing and growing needs in the community. We must once again pivot to ensure that CSF can continue as a critical resource for those who need it when all other avenues of support have been exhausted.
On May 1, 2023, we adjusted our grant guidelines. New applications must include someone in the residence age 18 and under, and a member of the household must suffer from a life-threatening illness, a mental health condition or a physical disability. See updated funding criteria below and in our application guidelines.
We are simultaneously planning for the future of CSF — a necessary step we must take for long-term sustainability. We will work with community partners, Foundation leaders, funders and a program development consultant to establish a new approach for 2024 and beyond.
How to Apply
Requests for Community Sharing Fund grants are made by caseworkers on behalf of individual clients through our online grant portal. Applications are only accepted from referring nonprofit organizations.
All caseworkers must register on the portal. Download registration instructions. Caseworkers are encouraged to review the grant guidelines below and contact our team with questions regarding the appropriateness of a request. You may be referred to other community resources.
Community Sharing Fund Grant Guidelines
Nonprofit organizations assisting residents in Dakota, Ramsey or Washington counties can apply for a grant from the Community Sharing Fund through our online grant portal, under the Community Sharing Fund section.
Information for Referring Agencies
The purpose of Community Sharing Fund is to provide funding to individuals and families with verifiable emergency needs when other services or funds are unavailable. Grants are approved for rent, damage deposit, utility costs, medical expenses, childcare, transportation and other critical needs.
Criteria for Funding
- The applicant is a resident of Dakota, Ramsey or Washington County, Minnesota, for at least 30 days.
- The request must be a health and human services related need.
- New as of May 1, 2023: There must be someone in the residence age 18 and under.
- New as of May 1, 2023: A member of the household must suffer from a life-threatening illness, a mental health condition or a physical disability.
- The applicant has not received a grant from the Community Sharing Fund within the last 18 months.
- No other member of the applicant’s household has received a grant from the Community Sharing Fund in the last 18 months.
- The need has been created by an unforeseen event that has resulted in an emergency.
- The Community Sharing Fund is a resource of last resort. Eligibility for assistance from other funds and the family’s own resources are considered.
- The grant will solve a problem that is not expected to reoccur in the near future.
- If the emergency has resulted from a resolvable underlying issue, the grant will be approved only if the referring organization can verify that corrective action has been taken.
Grant amounts range from $100 to $750, and up to $1,000 for housing assistance.
- The Community Sharing Fund does not fund attorney fees or travel costs and other expenses related to child custody issues.
- Requests are not approved for payment of bail, traffic tickets and fines or other expenses related to illegal activities.
- Requests are not approved for burial or funeral expenses.
- Requests are not accepted directly from individuals seeking emergency funding.
How to Apply
Requests for Community Sharing Fund grants on behalf of individual clients are made through our online grant portal. All first-time users will need to register. Download registration instructions. Caseworkers are encouraged to review these guidelines and contact our team with questions regarding the appropriateness of a request. You may be referred to other community resources.
Clients should not be referred directly to the Community Sharing Fund. The Community Sharing Fund relies on agency staff to gather necessary background information and ensure that Fund criteria have been met. Direct referrals may complicate matters for clients because they will be referred back to a social worker in a human service agency.
When submitting an application, the caseworker must submit the following information:
- Your name and the name of your organization
- A brief account of the current crisis, describing why it is an emergency, what precipitated the crisis, what other attempts have been made to solve the problem and why it is unlikely to reoccur
- The amount requested and the basis of determination
- The client’s name, address (including county and zip code), age, racial or ethnic group, number of dependents, monthly income, source of income and a breakdown of monthly expenditures
- Documentation that supports the request
Once staff has received the application, please allow up to five business days for staff to review the application and contact the caseworker. Decisions on grants are usually made within a week from when the application is received.
Payment of Grants
Cash grants are not made to clients. Community Sharing Fund grants are payable to referring agencies [501(c)(3) organizations or government agencies] for use as specified in the grant agreement. Payments to vendors (landlord, utility company, etc.) are made by the referring agencies.
For-profit Organizations Only
If the agency is a for-profit organization, the caseworker will need to be contracted with an agency of 501(c)(3) status or a government agency. The contracted agency will be reimbursed. For example: the county or another nonprofit agency.
Reasons for 2023 Grant Guideline Changes
The Community Sharing Fund was intended to be an important means of last-resort emergency funding for individuals to cure an immediate financial crisis. In recent years, CSF has in many ways become a stopgap for much broader financial challenges and seen increased demand.
Unfortunately, this level of grantmaking cannot be sustained with CSF’s financial resources. It is time for us to rethink our program so we can remain a sustainable and available resource for East Metro residents in the future.
For the remainder of this year, we are fortunate to be able to continue to provide important support under new guidelines. Meanwhile, our team will be working to redesign CSF to ensure it can provide ongoing relief for the emergency situations that it was designed to address.
East Metro Financial Network
We believe supporting our community of caseworkers is important, so we convene a gathering of caseworkers four times a year as a means to provide support and resources to these life-changing individuals.
The East Metro Financial Network informs case managers and social workers about community resources that may be beneficial and interesting to them and their work. Each meeting features a speaker, an update about the Community Sharing Fund, and an opportunity for attendees to make announcements about relevant programs, events or resources.