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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, education equity, youth engagement, 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 $87 million in 2016.

Principles for Minnesota Grantmakers

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

Glasspockets Initiative

Glasspockets is a Foundation Center initiative that champions philanthropic transparency in an online world. McKnight is among the foundations with "glass pockets" according to Foundation Center's set of 25 practices. Learn more.

McKnight is Great Rated!

Review Employees 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.

Best Workplaces for Women

The McKnight Foundation has been recognized by Great Place to Work and Fortune as one of the nation's best workplaces for women. The ranking is based on employees’ assessments of communications with management, options for development and training, and support for work/life balance, among other factors.

Best Small Workplaces


McKnight has also been named one of the nation's best small workplaces (100 or fewer employees). Winning a spot on this list indicates the organization has distinguished itself from peers by creating a great place to work for all employees, regardless of gender, race/ethnicity, job role, or other personal characteristics.