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How to Apply


The Midwest Climate & Energy program accepts proposals from organizations in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa. Other Midwest states remain invite-only. For organizations that wish to apply, the first step is to familiarize yourself with our approach. You may also want to review the Foundation’s general funding FAQ.

If, after reading our grant guidelines, you feel your organization fits within our funding strategies, contact the Midwest Climate & Energy team before starting an application.

To help you prepare, you can preview the full proposal application form (PDF, Word). Please also review our FAQ with commonly asked questions specific to the Climate program.

Within two weeks of receiving your application, Climate staff will be in contact with you regarding next steps. We will make a funding decision within three months of receiving your application.

Eligibility & Types of Support

We accept proposals and provide operating and project grants to organizations based in, and working in, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa (other Midwest states remain invite-only). We consider capital grants only in exceptional circumstances. 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. However, we generally will not fund activities that are traditionally the sole responsibility of the government.

What We Don’t Fund

We do not fund the following type of requests:

  • Scholarships or other types of assistance for individuals
  • Conferences, including attendance or travel
  • Discrete project development, construction, installation, and/or deployment costs (for example, materials, labor, etc.)
  • Land purchase
  • Endowments and capital campaigns, except in rare cases
  • Activities that have a specific religious purpose
  • Lobbying prohibited by the Internal Revenue Code (see note below)

A note on lobbying and public policy analysis: 

The Foundation may consider funding requests for efforts such as advocacy and education to inform the policies and administrative rules of executive, judicial, and administrative agencies; information-sharing that is neutral, nonpartisan, and fully descriptive of both sides of pending legislative issues; and policy research.

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.

Application & Timeline

McKnight has a one-step application process and accepts proposals on a rolling basis. We aim to make a decision and distribute funding within three months of receiving a full proposal. 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.

Important Notes

  • To access saved applications or to check the status of a report, use the Account Login link (upper right corner of any page on this website).
  • If you have any trouble with the online application system, call us at (612) 333-4220 or send an email to the Climate team.

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