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How to Apply


For organizations that wish to apply, the first step is to familiarize yourself with our approach, including our grantmaking priorities. You may also want to review the Foundation’s general funding FAQ.

If, after reading our website, you feel your organization fits within our strategies and program principles, we encourage you to contact the Vibrant & Equitable Communities (Communities) team before starting an application. This conversation is intended to help you make a decision about applying and make the best use of your time; a conversation is not required for funding.

To help you prepare, you can preview the application form (PDFWord). Additional resources include Frequently Asked Questions, that is, commonly asked questions with responses specific to the Communities program.

Within two weeks of receiving your application, Communities staff will be in contact with you regarding next steps. We strive to make a decision and distribute funding within three months of receiving an application.

Eligibility & Types of Support

We provide operating and project grants to organizations 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. However, we generally will not fund activities that are traditionally the sole responsibility of government.

What The Communities Program Does Not 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 the following:

  • Basic social services, such as food shelves, case management, or emergency shelter
  • Health services
  • Parks and open spaces
  • Transit- and transportation-related efforts (see Midwest Climate and Energy)
  • Pre-K-12 educational programming
  • Workforce development education and training
  • Scholarships or other types of assistance for individuals (see Arts & Culture)
  • Conferences, including attendance or travel, except in rare cases
  • 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 improve 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, the Foundation will not fund attempts to influence specific pending or proposed legislation, including referenda, local ordinances, and resolutions. However, we may support organizations that lobby when in compliance with IRS codes.

Learn more about our general funding guidelines.

Application & Timeline

McKnight has a one-step application process and accepts proposals on a rolling basis. We strive to make a decision and distribute funding within three months of receiving an application. 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 Communities team.

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