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About The McKnight Foundation

Mission Statement

The McKnight Foundation, a Minnesota-based family foundation, seeks to improve the quality of life for present and future generations. We use all our resources to attend, unite, and empower those we serve.


The McKnight Foundation is unusual in being one of the country's largest foundations while remaining anchored in one state and still under the direction of the family board.

Program interests include regional economic and community development, Minnesota’s arts and artists, early literacy, youth development, Midwest climate and energy, Mississippi River water quality, neuroscience research, international crop research, and rural livelihoods. Our primary geographic focus is the state of Minnesota, with significant support also directed to strategies throughout the U.S. and in Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America.

Founded in 1953 and independently endowed by William and Maude McKnight, the foundation had assets of approximately $2.2 billion and granted about $88 million in 2015.

Principles for Minnesota Grantmakers

MCF-logoThe McKnight Foundation subscribes to the Minnesota Council on Foundation's Principles for Minnesota grantmakers, eight principles adopted by the MCF board of directors in 2006. Part of the larger Principles for Grantmakers & Practice Options for Philanthropic Organizations, available on the MCF website.

Glasspockets Initiative

Glasspockets is a Foundation Centerinitiative that champions philanthropic transparency and accountability practices in an online world. The McKnight Foundation is among the 76 foundations who have been identified as having "glass pockets" according to Foundation Center's set of 23 indicators. Learn more.

McKnight is Great Rated!

ReviewEmployees love McKnight's mission — and the chance to work with caring, talented colleagues in a beautiful location with great benefits. Learn more about the Great Place to Work Institute's "great rated" designation here.