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How to Apply

Please note: We accept open inquiries for funding related to advancing the education profession or engaging families via our online application. After staff review inquiries, selected organizations will be invited to submit full proposals for funding. 


The first step is to familiarize yourself with our approach. If you are unclear about your organization’s fit with our funding strategies, call the E&L team at (612) 333-4220.

To help you prepare, the initial inquiry and full proposal application forms will be available to download in mid-March.

The application system opens approximately two weeks prior to each initial inquiry deadline.

Eligibility & Types of Support

We prioritize operating and project grants to organizations working in Minnesota. With very few exceptions, to be eligible for a grant, applicants must be classified by the Internal Revenue Service as tax-exempt, nonprofit organizations.

Whenever possible, we take a place-based approach to support deep work in specific communities serving diverse student populations. Program staff are in the process of developing geographic priority areas beyond the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area. If you are seeking support for efforts in Greater Minnesota, please contact program staff to learn more.

What We Don’t Fund

We generally do not make grants for the following:

  • Direct service programs, such as after school and/or tutoring programs
  • Scholarship programs
  • Curricular models or programs
  • In-service professional development (except in very rare cases)
  • Large-scale empirical research
  • Development or expansion of new schools or school models
  • Sponsorship of events or conferences


McKnight's initial inquiry deadlines are quarterly. If invited, the inquiry submission date will determine when a full proposal is considered by our board. Please note the online application system is open approximately two weeks prior to the deadline so the open dates below may vary from year to year by a day or two.

Application Opens Initial Inquiry Due Board Consideration
March 20 April 5 August
June 15 July 5 November
September 20 October 5 February