Initiative Foundation: Innovation Fund Grant

Initiative Foundation

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Grant amount: Up to US $5,000

Next deadline: May 10, 2019 (Letter of inquiry)

Later deadlines: Aug 9, 2019 (Letter of inquiry), Nov 11, 2019 (Letter of inquiry), Feb 8, 2020 (Letter of inquiry)

Applicant type: Nonprofit Government Entity

Funding uses: Education / Outreach, Applied Project / Program, Training / Capacity Building

Location of project: Counties in Minnesota: Benton County, Cass County, Chisago County, Crow Wing County, Isanti County Expand all

Location of residency: United States

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About this funder:

View past grantees & full 990 summary


About Us

The Initiative Foundation works daily to strengthen the economy and communities of Central Minnesota:

  • Through loans and financing, we invest in businesses that create quality jobs.
  • Through grants and programs, we invest in organizations that make our economy strong.
  • Through donor services and charitable funds, we help people invest in their communities.

We believe that local people have the greatest sum of initiative, knowledge and relationships to achieve a brighter future.

2017 - 2019 Priorities

  • Support and grow existing for-profit and nonprofit businesses. 
  • Help new entrepreneurs and the start-up of businesses and social enterprise ventures.
  • Improve the economic status of financially disadvantaged people.
  • Enhance kindergarten readiness for children (ages 0-5) living in poverty.
  • Cultivate the next generation of leaders (ages 40 and under) working and living in our region.

Economy. Community. Philanthropy.

Our strategic framework is based on the philosophy that the economy, community and philanthropy are interconnected. Gains or losses in one area can either propel or restrain prosperity. The Foundation's initiatives and investments are intended to have maximum impact on the system, unlocking the power of each community.

  • Community assets drive local business growth. 
  • Business growth attracts new revenue and creates quality jobs. 
  • Revenue provides fuel for local philanthropy, which helps to fund community assets.

Initiative Foundation Grants: The Innovation Fund

The Initiative Foundation awards about $1 million annually in grants to qualifying organizations in Central Minnesota. The Initiative Foundation makes grants for projects and programs that advance its mission to Empower People to Build Thriving Communities and a Vibrant Region across Central Minnesota.

Innovation Fund Grant Priorities

Innovation Fund grants seldom exceed $5,000, and generally fund 50 percent or less of the total program/project budget. We typically receive three to four times more applications than we can fund, so our process is highly competitive. The Initiative Foundation also strives to allocate our grant resources around our entire region, so geographical diversity is a consideration in our review. 

  • Innovation Fund grants are intended to support start-up or capacity-building projects which address at least one of the following priorities: 
  • Help small businesses and social enterprise ventures through access to technical assistance, mentorship, succession planning, and education efforts. The Foundation is especially interested in supporting minority business ownership and/or job creation in areas of concentrated poverty.
  • Help communities address opportunities or barriers to business growth and creation or retention of quality jobs.
  • Support activities or strategies to address workforce shortages in communities within our region that lead to improved skills, access to employment opportunities or advancement in growing sectors.
  • Support community-based early childhood efforts that advance literacy and school readiness, particularly in communities not served by one of our existing Early Childhood Coalitions. 
  • Support strategic planning, fund development, board training or other capacity-building initiatives for nonprofits that have a core focus on poverty.
  • Support activities that cultivate new and emerging community and philanthropic leaders working and living in our region. 
  • Support activities by communities and nonprofits to engage new and emerging leaders interested in serving on civic, community or nonprofit boards.
  • Support innovative community planning, design and engagement strategies to help attract and retain skilled workers and young families. 

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • Grant applicants must be 501(c)(3) nonprofits, school districts, or local units of government that serve the people and communities in Benton, Cass, Chisago, Crow Wing, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Pine, Sherburne, Stearns, Todd, Wadena, and/or Wright counties. 


  • Priority consideration is given to projects that have local financial support.


  • Funding requests for outside our service area will not be considered.
  • Individuals are ineligible to apply for funds.The following expenses are ineligible and will not be considered for Innovation funding:
    • Grants or reimbursements to individuals and businesses.
    • Expenses incurred prior to the receipt of a grant award.
    • Capital expenses (e.g., buildings, equipment, vehicles, etc.).
    • Programs or projects that DO NOT directly benefit residents in the Initiative Foundation’s 14 county service area. 
    • Replacement of or substitution for government funding. 
    • Religious activities.
    • Lobbying or campaigning for a candidate, issue or referendum vote. 
    • Development or purchase of school curriculum or support for school athletic programs. 
    • Out of state travel. 
    • Arts, health-related and media production applications are discouraged unless they directly address at least one of the priorities listed on the previous page.