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How to Apply


The first step is to familiarize yourself with our approach. You may also want to review our funding FAQ.

If, after reading our website, you feel your organization fits within our funding strategies, contact the Education team before starting an application.

To help you prepare, you can preview both the initial inquiry and full proposal application forms at any time.

We will respond via email four to six weeks after receiving your inquiry, either to decline funding or to provide instructions to submit a full proposal online.

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

Eligibility & Types of Support

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

Government entities may apply for funding for innovative projects. We generally will not fund, however, activities that are traditionally the sole responsibility of government.

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. 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

A note on lobbying and public policy analysis: 

The Foundation may consider funding requests for efforts such as advocacy. As required by the Internal Revenue Code, however, the Foundation will not fund attempts to influence specific pending or proposed legislation, including referenda, local ordinances, and resolutions.

Learn more about our general funding guidelines.


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 OpensInitial Inquiry DueBoard Consideration
December 15January 5May
March 20April 5August
June 15July 5November
September 20October 5February

Important Notes

  • All new Initial Inquiries must use the “Start Application” button at the top of this page. Inquiries that are in progress can be accessed from within your online account.
  • To access saved applications or to check the status of a report, use the Account Login link (upper right corner of any page).
  • If you have any trouble with the online application system call us at (612) 333-4220 or send an email to our Education team.

Initial Inquiry Instructions

The online application system is only accessible for two weeks prior to deadline.

Initial Inquiry Deadlines:
January 5
April 5
July 5
October 5

Start Application

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