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Region & Communities

Program Guidelines

What We Don't Fund    |   Application Overview   |   Apply

Minnesota’s success depends on a 21st century competitive region. The goal of our region and communities work is to increase efficient and sustainable regional metropolitan development that creates livable communities and expands opportunities for all to thrive.

We do this through grantmaking, collaboration, and encouragement of strategic policy reform around sustainable regional development, homes for all, and economically vibrant neighborhoods. Across all funding strategies, we promote integration, alignment, and balanced participation from all sectors: nonprofit, government, private, and civic. Our primary geographic focus is the Twin Cities metropolitan region.

The program employs three strategies.

1. Sustainable regional development.We foster integrative planning and development that is economically efficient, environmentally sound, and socially equitable. Our tactics:

  • Increase compact regional development and redevelopment; maximize sustainable private and public investment; and foster more livable communities.
  • Implement balanced development that integrates systems of transit, open spaces, parks, housing, and job density to connect people and places to possibilities.
  • Accelerate development of a multimodal transportation network which enhances neighborhood vitality and regional competitiveness, benefits low-income communities, and unlocks resources for more sustainable investments.
  • Support data-driven research and catalytic demonstration projects which inform and shape policy reform and align and leverage public, philanthropic, and private resources.

2. Homes for all. We support affordable housing strategies and systems that increase family stability and link families to opportunities through transportation-oriented development, locational and energy efficiency, expanded diversity of choice, and increased access to education and employment. Our tactics:

  • Accelerate the pace of production, preservation, and permanency of affordable housing, connected to transportation, jobs, and supportive amenities.
  • Promote innovation and high-quality design that builds more livable communities, creating a more balanced and sustainable mix of housing choice.
  • Promote partnerships to increase public and private support of affordable housing as a fundamental characteristic of sustainable communities.
  • Advance regional housing strategies through high-capacity housing development entities that expand location and energy efficiency choices for people while creating healthier local housing markets.

This strategy typically funds housing projects and integrated efforts through strong field intermediary organizations. It is the only strategy with some statewide investments.

3. Economically vibrant neighborhoods. We promote economically vibrant neighborhoods that create communities of opportunity and offer integrated systems of support. Our tactics:

  • Engage residents, organizations, government, and businesses in achieving equitable development, creating economic opportunities, and building neighborhood resiliency through collective action, collaboration, and policy change.
  • Implement place-based approaches that connect residents to greater economic self-sufficiency, including access to employment and training opportunities and family work supports.
  • Improve retail, commercial, and new industry development along selected transportation and housing corridors (and surrounding communities) that advance more sustainable, opportunity- rich communities and increase social and economic capital.
  • Advance neighborhood development tied to regional economic development strategies that engage multisector partnerships providing quality jobs and career pathways toward greater economic self-sufficiency.

The region and communities program guidelines were updated March 2012. We encourage you to call the Foundation at 612-333-4220 to discuss your ideas with a program officer and to learn more about the strategies we're pursuing.

What We Don't Fund

Foundations can be most effective by concentrating their resources in a few areas. This means we cannot support many worthy projects outside our program interests. For example, we do not make grants for

  • basic social services;
  • health services or policy;
  • urban agriculture or youth-focused programs (such as playgrounds) not directly impacting current program goals;
  • historic preservation projects;
  • projects outside the Twin Cities metropolitan area;
  • scholarships or other types of assistance for individuals;
  • conferences, including attendance or travel (except when related to existing McKnight support);
  • endowments, except in rare cases;
  • activities that have a specific religious purpose; or
  • lobbying prohibited by the Internal Revenue Code (see note below).

Application Overview

  1. Read and review the above funding guidelines, and call us at 612-333-4220 to confirm your work fits our program strategies.
  2. Preview the initial inquiry and full proposal applications.
  3. Review the Internal Revenue Code's lobbying regulations .
  4. When ready, follow the link below to start a new application.
We have quarterly deadlines for inquiries. The date by which we receive your completed initial inquiry will determine when your full proposal (if invited) is considered by our board. Deadlines are as follows:

  1. October 15 for February consideration
  2. January 15 for May consideration
  3. April 15 for August consideration
  4. July 15 for November consideration
The online application system is accessible for two weeks prior to deadline. Board consideration is pending full proposal invitation. Please note, if a proposal is invited, McKnight will email a request for bank routing information.


Please visit the Funding FAQ section, send us an email, or call us at 612-333-4220.