Please note: The application process discussed in this video is out of date. McKnight revised its grantmaking process in 2022 to accept applications on a rolling basis and move to a simplified one-step grant application process. Please visit our How to Apply page for the most up-to-date information.

We recently held a webinar to share what we learned during our first year of the Vibrant & Equitable Communities program, and how it is shaping the program’s evolving strategy, approach, and criteria. You can watch the webinar below and/or review the key points below.

Our Four Funding Factors

The Communities team looks at four different factors when determining whether an application should be considered for funding. However, not all applications that meet these four criteria are advanced for funding. We also have other considerations, such as balancing out our investments based on geography, population, and by strategy.

1. Systems Change

We know that systemic inequities are deeply embedded in our society. As our team reflected on our first year of grantmaking, we recognized that the Foundation’s dollars are best invested in organizations working toward systems change, which means they are focused on shifting the underlying conditions that hold inequality in place.

Before reaching out, we encourage you to answer the following questions:

What inequality are you seeking to address?
What system(s) hold that inequality in place?
How will your work impact the system(s)?
What power do you have and what power do you need to make the changes you seek?

2. Alignment to Our Strategy

Applicants need to align with our approach and be addressing one or more of our four strategies. For example, we do not fund mentorship programs, scholarships, or direct services. While these are important efforts, they are not aligned with the program’s goal of driving systems change.

3. Leadership

Leadership matters, especially for community accountability. We need to see alignment between the community served and your organization’s leadership. As Minnesotans, we recognize the strength of our multicultural and multiracial communities, and our grantmaking will be inclusive of all organizations, including white and BIPOC-led.

4. Opportunity

After reading hundreds of applications, we have found that the most compelling were from organizations that have a clear sense of historical context and were able to tie that to how unique, powerful, and urgent this moment is for driving systemic change.  

Year 1 Grantmaking in Review

In 2021, we were approached by literally thousands of Minnesotans who share our desire to build a vibrant future for all Minnesotans. Over 500 organizations applied, and while we were only able to support about one in five of these requests, we were truly honored by the outpouring of interest and excitement.

In 2021, we made 125 grants totaling $41,786,000 across our four program strategies.

Accelerate Economic Mobility – $10,950,000 to 42 organizations
Cultivate a Fair and Just Housing System – $11,530,999 to 24 grantees
Build Community Wealth – $12,601,000 to 28 organizations
Strengthen Democratic Participation – $6,705,000 to 31 organizations

Funding by Strategy

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Applicant Next Steps

We hope that prospective applicants find these recommendations useful:

Consider the criteria we outlined above and what we don’t fund to inform your decision to submit.
Read our program FAQ, a comprehensive guide that answers common questions.

Visit our webpage for more information on our approach and how to apply.