Below are some questions and answers regarding McKnight’s Vibrant & Equitable Communities (Communities) program. For more information, we invite you to read the Communities approach and application guidelines.

Grantmaking Logistics

1. How many grantmaking rounds are there each year?

Our team reviews proposals on a rolling basis, applications can be submitted at any time. Given year-end priorities, grants submitted and reviewed in the fourth quarter may take additional time. We recommend submitting your request by September 1 if funding in the current calendar year is critical.

Within two weeks of receiving your application, Communities staff will be in contact with you regarding next steps. We strive to make a decision and distribute funding within three months of receiving an application.

2. What is the expected duration of a grant? Do you make multiyear grants?

McKnight typically makes grants for one to two years in duration. We work closely with the requesting organization to determine both the grant type (e.g., general operations, project/program) and the grant duration. If you have questions, please contact a program staff member before submitting your grant request.

3. What is your grantmaking budget?

The Communities program’s 2023 grantmaking budget is $32 million. Because some of those dollars are already committed to multiyear grantees, we expect to deploy roughly $26 million in new grants in 2023.

4. What types of grants are available—general operating, program grants, others?

The Communities program regularly invites both general operating and program/project grants. If you have a question about grant types, we encourage you to connect with a program staff member.

5. Will McKnight consider funding research projects or more direct services programs?

McKnight funds a range of activities, from community organizing to research, analysis, and planning. We also fund nonpartisan policy advocacy and implementation. However, we do not fund direct services.

6. Is it necessary to secure matching funding?

We look at an organization’s entire budget and appreciate it when organizations identify diverse sources of support. We do not require matched funding, except in rare cases.

Return to top

Eligibility Requirements

7. What types of organizations are eligible?

For the most part, applicants should be classified by the Internal Revenue Service as tax-exempt, nonprofit organizations to be eligible for a grant. Government entities, including state, county, and municipal, may apply for funding for innovative projects. We generally will not fund activities that are traditionally the sole responsibility of government. Contact Paula who can connect you to a program staff member to answer more specific questions about your situation.

8. If I have a fiscal sponsor, can I apply for a grant?

We do consider requests from fiscally sponsored organizations. If funded, McKnight requires a fiscal sponsorship agreement between the fiscal sponsor and the sponsored project.

Return to top


9. Can you share what you mean by working statewide? Does that mean multiple sites? How do you see your grantmaking divided between the Minneapolis–St. Paul metro and Greater Minnesota?

The Communities program is committed to working with grantees and partners across Minnesota. We do not have a set funding quota by region of the state. We welcome and encourage proposals from the Minneapolis–St. Paul metro and Greater Minnesota and look forward to building funding relationships and having impact statewide.

10. Can you clarify terminology about funding in Minnesota? Must the organization be based in Minnesota, or can it be outside the state as long as it has programs applicable to Minnesota?

Most of the Communities program’s funding supports Minnesota-based organizations. However, we do review applications from partners outside of Minnesota who are working to support vibrant and equitable communities in our state. We recommend contacting a program staff member to discuss your work.

Return to top

Types of Partners

12. Are you looking to fund more established organizations and projects, newer efforts, or a combination?

The Communities program funds a combination of requests from new partners and from organizations with historic ties to McKnight. We also look to fund a range of organizations and coalitions, both established and emerging.

13. How does McKnight view proposals that are relevant to more than one program at McKnight, such as the overlap between the Communities program and the Midwest Climate & Energy program?

We collaborate closely with staff members in other McKnight programs, such as Arts & Culture and Midwest Climate & Energy, and we welcome proposals that intersect with multiple programs. Contact a program staff member for guidance on the best approach.

14. Are you exclusively funding Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC)–led organizations?

Though McKnight is committed to increasing its support to BIPOC-led organizations, we continue to fund multicultural, multiracial partners inclusive of all communities who call Minnesota home. Since the launch of the program, approximately 62% of grantees identified as BIPOC-led.

15. How do you define BIPOC organization or BIPOC-led organization?

McKnight currently defines BIPOC-led groups as those for whom at least four of the following are true.

  • 50 percent of senior staff* identify as BIPOC
  • 50 percent of board members identify as BIPOC
  • Organization has executive director(s)/leader(s) that identify as BIPOC
  • Group mission explicitly focuses on BIPOC communities and/or racial equity
  • Project and/or initiative is being led by majority of BIPOC-group members
  • Organization is implementing DEI initiatives and navigating organizational transition for greater equity in programming/operations

*We define senior staff as staff with decision-making authority or management responsibility with the organization.

16. Will you consider proposals that address economic equity and climate solutions in tandem?

Yes, we welcome proposals that intersect with multiple McKnight program areas. Please contact a program staff member to discuss your work and for guidance on submitting an application.

Return to top

Applying for a Grant

17. What is the best link for the grant applications?

You can apply by going to our How to Apply page. We invite you to preview the application form (PDF, Word).

18. Do I need to talk to a program staff member before I apply?

We recommend that you discuss your application with a program staff member. Val can help connect you to a team member. This is not a requirement of funding. It may, however, help you save time on an application.

19. If I am a current grantee: When should I apply for new funding?

If you are applying for funding for the same purpose as your current grant, we encourage you to apply when your existing grant is up for renewal.

That said, we want organizations to apply when it makes sense for you. If you want to apply at a different time of the year than you have in the past, please reach out to your program contact.

20. How many times can my organization apply in one year? If we are awarded a grant, can we submit another application for a different period?

To minimize work for your organization and help McKnight manage the numerous requests we receive, an organization should request funds only once per year.

Occasionally, circumstances, such as new opportunities or challenging current events, may present a reason to apply again. Contact a program staff member if you believe there may be sufficient justification for an additional request.

21. Is there a maximum grant request?

There is no maximum request amount. We recommend that you discuss the level of support you are considering with a program staff member before submitting a grant proposal to save time with an application. This will also help us understand your needs, dreams, and other considerations. After an application is submitted, we may work with you to adjust the amount requested.

22. Can grantees have multiple grants with you at one time?

Grantees may have multiple grants concurrently, though we prefer to reduce the administrative burden on both McKnight and grantee staff members with a single grant that either provides general operating support or funds multiple projects simultaneously.

23. What is the approximate timeline from submitting to acceptance of a proposal?

Within two weeks of receiving your application, Communities staff will be in contact with you regarding next steps. We will assign a program officer to each submitted application. That officer will reach out to discuss your application.

We strive to make a decision and distribute funding within three months of receiving an application.

24. If my application does not get selected, will you carry it forward for future consideration?

Applications are not automatically carried forward for future consideration.

25. If we are not selected to receive a grant, will there be an opportunity to receive feedback? What is the follow-up process?

If we do not accept your application, you are welcome to speak with a team member.

Return to top

Contacting the Communities Team

26. If we are new to the McKnight Foundation, who is the best staff person to talk with?

Please contact Val and she will direct you to the right person for your needs.

27. How can I stay updated?

The Vibrant & Equitable Communities page on McKnight’s website is the best place to find the latest information. You can also sign up to receive updates about our work.

Return to top