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McKnight’s Response to Covid-19

The sudden rise of a pandemic starkly reminds us of what we hold dear.

At McKnight, we value scientific integrity and the work of researchers, public health officials, and medical responders. We value equity, mindful that Covid-19 has a disparate impact on specific communities. And we value inclusion, which means we reject any efforts to use this public health challenge to sow divisiveness or discriminate.

As we continue to monitor developments related to the novel coronavirus, we prioritize the well-being of our staff, our grantees and other partners, and our local and global community. This has been a time to come together, to recognize our profound interdependence, and to care for one another.

For Grantees       |       Our Response       |      Additional Resources      |      Our Offices

Bright Spots Worth Celebrating

Learn about how nonprofits adapted to Covid-19 with creativity and resilience.



A list of government loans, philanthropic funds, and technical support for nonprofits and others.


Staff are returning to the office, but may still be working remotely on certain days. For that reason, they can be most easily reached via email.


Our offices were temporarily closed to the public, though we have resumed allowing use of meeting spaces.

For Grantees

Our grantees are working harder than ever to meet the needs of our communities, while also maintaining the stability of their organizations. McKnight is standing by our grantees and taking steps to provide increased flexibility and support.

Last updated January 2021

Grant Report Extension | 3/19/2020—Due to the impact of the coronavirus, McKnight has implemented an automatic three-month extension on all scheduled grant reports. In addition, during this unprecedented situation, grantees can speak to their program contact to request other potential adjustments to their grant agreements, such as the grant purpose or time frame.

CoF Pledge of Action | 3/23/2020—McKnight, along with our peer funders and other leaders in the philanthropic sector, signed the Council on Foundations’ pledge of action in response to Covid-19 to provide urgent support to our grantees and partners. Actions include: easing or eliminating restrictions on current grants, postponing reporting requirements and other unnecessary demands on grantees’ time, and contributing to community-based emergency funds.

a women sorting her vegetables up

To our International Partners | 3/18/2020—Here is a letter we sent our Collaborative Crop Research Program and Southeast Asia grantees and partners.

Art brushes

To the Arts Community | 4/17/2020—Read an open letter from McKnight’s Arts team to our Arts grantees, partners, and community.

Contact Us—We are mindful that organizations are facing enormous challenges brought on by the pandemic, and we aim to ease some of the burdens on grantees. We value your insight and ideas—please reach out to your primary Foundation contact or send us a message through our Contact Us web page.

Our Response

McKnight’s response to the pandemic will be ongoing as we provide for near-term needs, while also anticipating medium- and long-term needs.

Last updated January 2021

African Development Center—$50,000 to support the influx of small business loan requests the organization has received from entrepreneurs experiencing financial loss due to the pandemic.

AAPIP Open Letter—The McKnight Foundation, with nearly 200 of our peer funders, recently signed an open letter from Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP) in response to increased xenophobia against Asian American communities due to Covid-19. We reject any attempts to stereotype or scapegoat Asian Americans.

Asian Economic Development Association—$50,000 to aid in the recovery of the Little Mekong/University district in St. Paul where businesses face tremendous financial hardship due to Covid-19 shutdowns. More than two dozen businesses in the area endured further damage in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd.

Comunidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio—$100,000 in general operating support for the organization, led by and for Latinos, to maintain staffing and provide programs and services such as adult education, youth enrichment classes, mental and chemical health counseling, and employment coaching via phone and video conferencing.

Covid-19 Housing Assistance Program—$500,000 to support the state in processing federal CARES Act resources to prevent evictions and foreclosures due to the Covid-19 pandemic and recession. CARES Act funds are legislatively required to be used in 2020. McKnight joined with other private funders throughout the state to pay processing organizations into 2021, ensuring that Minnesotans can access all CARES Act housing resources fully.

East Side Neighborhood Development Company—$50,000 to support small businesses and economic recovery in St. Paul’s Payne Avenue business district.

Global Philanthropy Partnership—$100,000 in matching philanthropic funds to support Twin Cities’ organizations working to ensure state and federal funds provide reliable and safe transportation for essential workers. Funds will also help to develop longer-term solutions that provide healthier public spaces to travel safely by foot and bike.

Great Plains Institute for Sustainable Development—$250,000 to support the Midwest Energy Collaborative federal stimulus and equitable recovery efforts with the goal of building back better after Covid-19.

Headwaters Foundation for Justice—$100,000 in support of its Communities First Fund, to support Black, Indigenous, and people of color who are absorbing heightened social, political, and economic disparities due to the pandemic. Funds will also go to organizations that support Asian American and Pacific Islander communities and those working to combat increased xenophobia toward Asian Americans.

Hope Community—$100,000 for virtual arts programming to continue to build community, connection, and learning in the face of the pandemic.

Housing Justice Center—$250,000 to respond to housing access and stability issues in Minnesota, resulting from the coronavirus.

Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility logo

Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility Investor Statement—McKnight, along with 118 institutions with $2.3 trillion in combined assets, signed a statement calling for increased protections for meat processing workers due to Covid-19. The statement highlights the risks to workers in the meat sector and provides recommendations that will safeguard all stakeholders—workers, and by extension, their families and communities.

Juxtaposition Arts—$100,000 in general operating support to pivot to virtual and adjusted programming during Covid-19 stay-at-home precautions.

Lake Street Council—$100,000 to support Minneapolis’s East Lake Street district, home to many small family and immigrant-owned restaurants and food shops that closed or were severely restricted during statewide Covid-19 lockdown measures. The area faced further hardship when dozens of businesses were damaged or destroyed in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd.

Latino Economic Development Center—$75,000 for Minnesota’s Latino business community, providing capital, fostering education, and advancing recovery efforts.

Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers—$75,000 to support the reopening of small businesses owned by Black, Indigenous, and people of color that were forced to close during Minnesota’s Covid-19 shutdown.

Metropolitan Economic Development Association—$75,000 to provide recovery and retooling technical assistance to businesses owned by Black, Indigenous, and people of color affected by Covid-19 and to attract capital to provide these businesses with bridge financing to better position them to survive the economic downturn.

Mni Sota Fund—$100,000 to enable this Native community development financial institution to continue its work to advance the promotion of homeownership, entrepreneurship, and financial capabilities among American Indian men and women throughout Minnesota.

Minnesota Disaster Recovery Fund—$100,000 to the recovery fund administered by the Saint Paul and Minnesota Foundation. Our funding will be distributed to the Minnesota Initiative Foundations and used to support the direct needs of individuals, families, and small businesses due to the impact of coronavirus.

Native American Community Development Institute—$100,000 for general operating support to continue programming and strategy development to strengthen the sustainability and well-being of American Indian people and communities.

Neighborhood Development Center—$75,000 to provide local entrepreneurs with recovery loans and technical assistance, including online services, marketing, and curbside pickup, as well as support in reopening to the public following the Covid-19 shutdown.

New Venture Fund—$250,000 for the Trusted Elections Fund to support nonpartisan efforts to ensure free and fair 2020 elections in Minnesota.

Northside Economic Opportunity Network—$50,000 to support north Minneapolis businesses that suffered significant financial losses from the state’s Covid-19 shutdown.

Pillsbury United Communities—$100,000 to support artists and the creation of virtual performances via Pillsbury House Theatre.

Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation—$50,000 to the Minnesota Homeless Fund, with the understanding that we are all only as safe as those who are most at risk. Funds will help to increase shelter space and critical resources for people experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity.

Springboard for the Arts’ expanded Personal Emergency Relief Fund—$50,000 in support of an emergency relief fund that provides direct assistance to artists.

West Bank Business Association—$25,000 for general operating support to help the West Bank business district safely reopen, provide legal expertise to small businesses seeking federal assistance, and continue to advance the area’s economic vitality.

West Broadway Area Coalition—$25,000 to support small businesses and economic recovery in the West Broadway business district of north Minneapolis, which suffered financial losses due to Covid-19, as well as damage in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd.

West Central Initiative—$40,000 to support the Minnesota Early Childhood Workforce, a multi-sector, statewide coalition focused on increasing compensation, training, and resources for early childhood educators. Funds will help advance policy solutions to support Minnesota’s childcare professionals—essential workers who find themselves on the frontlines of the pandemic, while earning less than livable wages.

Additional Resources

We understand this pandemic has hurt many nonprofits. In addition to government resources for nonprofits, we have been heartened by the response of our peer funders and other community partners. Below is a list of some curated resources, including forgivable loans, technical assistance, response funds for nonprofits, support for individual artists, and more.

Last updated January 2021

The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits provides a helpful overview of how the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) affects nonprofits. For example, nonprofits might be able to obtain small-business loans, reimbursements for employee benefits, payroll tax credits, and other supports. The $2 trillion CARES Act, signed into law on March 27, 2020, provides funding to support individuals and businesses impacted by Covid-19 and the resulting economic downturn.

The U.S. Small Business Administration announced the Paycheck Protection Program. This program provides potentially forgivable loans for nonprofits at 2.5 times their average monthly payroll for up to $10 million. Organizations can apply through their banks.

The Minneapolis Foundation will leverage its One MPLS Fund to support its community response to the pandemic. The fund is designed to be nimble and responsive, ensuring resources are immediately available to address emerging issues.

Minnesota Council on Foundations and the Saint Paul and Minnesota Foundation launched the $4.4 million Minnesota Disaster Recovery Fund, as noted above, to provide immediate aid to those who have been deeply impacted by the coronavirus.

The Otto Bremer Trust has established a $50 million emergency fund through its Community Benefit Financial Company (CBFC) subsidiary to provide financial support to Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and Montana nonprofits and other community organizations impacted by and responding to the pandemic.

Springboard for the Arts has expanded the guidelines of its Emergency Relief Fund to include lost income due to coronavirus/Covid-19 and has established a coronavirus resource page for artists.

Propel Nonprofits is providing no-cost technical assistance to nonprofits and free consultations with regard to finance, strategy, and governance in the wake of the pandemic.

NEA Cares Act Graphic

The National Endowment for the Arts will distribute $75 million in relief aid provided by the CARES Act to arts organizations nationwide.

June 2020

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