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Grants

Blandin Foundation funds rural Minnesota leaders thinking and acting courageously with partners on a vision that their community stands behind.

Inquiry Portal Closed Starting
Wednesday, January 31

We are redesigning our grant processes and implementing a new grants management system.

Active grants will continue to be processed.

Questions? Email us at grants@blandinfoundation.org

Learn more:

Our New Strategic Direction

Grantees were notified about the portal closure on January 24. Read the email here.

Grant Portal – FAQs

Our inquiry portal is closed while we redesign our grant processes and implement a new grants management system. While we will not be accepting new inquiries, all active grants will continue to be processed. We anticipate the inquiry portal will reopen this spring, but we will advise of a firmer timeline as the technical work progresses.

We are responding to several factors: 1) growth of grantmaking by 40% over the last decade, 2) a call to improve services for our grantees and 3) urgent rural needs that have required us to adopt a new strategic direction and updates to our systems.

Rural Minnesota needs us now more than ever and our thirty-year old grantmaking model is not up to the task. As our CEO, Tuleah Palmer, began outlining in dozens of one-on-one meetings last year, we are shifting our strategic focus to better meet rural Minnesota’s urgent challenges and to realign our current work with Charles Blandin’s original vision. Pandemic turmoil accelerated many of the economic and social disparities that originally inspired our collective passion for rural philanthropy, and we must take bold steps to meet the moment.

The redesigned grant interface will make it easier for you to engage with us, provide more streamlined data collection, and better tools to track your nonprofit’s progress. On our end, it will allow for better system automation and flexibility.

Our commitment to Charles Blandin’s vision, rural Minnesota, and our home giving area remains rock solid. The framework in which we achieve that mission is shifting to one keenly focused on impact and building rural capacity.

We will communicate further rounds of information in 2023, but to start planning for the future, all inquiries must address one or more of the Blandin Foundation’s three impact areas:

  • Community Wealth-Building – building the rural bases of knowledge, money, workforce, entrepreneurship, and investment – and keeping those powerful resources close to home.
  • Rural Placemaking – bolstering the arts, culture, creativity and information that helps us feel connected, invested, and proud of where we live.
  • Small communities – funding work, skills, and needed system changes in rural Minnesota’s smallest communities.

To ensure funding makes a difference in the lives of rural Minnesotans, inquiries that emphasize outcomes and sustainability will be viewed favorably.

In addition to redesigning our grants management system:

  • We have added grant officers in each of the 3 impact areas.
  • We will fund efforts in rural MN that can demonstrate sustainable impact, outcomes, and performance toward the 3 impact areas.
  • Blandin’s 3 program departments will now operate toward our goals through grantmaking, advocacy, and capacity-building.
  • We are in the process of upgrading our popular leadership training program to:
    • Meet the modern needs of rural MN residents by integrating more technology.
    • Create a wider range of enrichment and training opportunities
    • Make talent and leadership development as accessible as possible while including a cross-section of Minnesotans.

We recognized that rural MN has changed dramatically in the last 30 years and needs our best effort more than ever. Our communities are facing urgent challenges:

  • Demographic Shifts – rural has lost population or stagnated while suburban has grown. Diversity in rural MN is increasing, bringing new cultures and neighbors to small communities.
  • Disparities Abound – so rural people have to do more with less. The disparities are clear in digital equity, philanthropic dollars, investment and banking – all heavily compounded by recent social and pandemic upheavals.
  • Energy Transitions – MN’s push to reduce carbon emissions will impact rural communities and create new opportunities. We want to help them be ready.

To meet these challenges, we met with leaders, grantees, and nonprofit partners across rural MN and asked what our priorities should be as we face these challenges. It boiled down to measurable outcomes, equity, and leadership.

We realized it was time to realign our work with these current realities, partner feedback, and Charles Blandin’s original vision. Charles Blandin created the Foundation for the betterment of the worker and to foster harmony in rural places. Combining all of these factors into a robust strategic planning process, we identified the areas that we can have the MOST impact: Community Wealth-Building, Rural Placemaking, and Small Communities.

All grantees and funding partners will be impacted by the new grantmaking framework and portal redesign – as will all of Blandin Foundation’s grantmaking operations.

No. We will communicate when new inquiries will be accepted. All inquiries will be reviewed through the new framework addressing the three capacity-building impact areas.

We are redesigning the grant system to create better and more meaningful engagement with our grantees so the nature of our interactions will shift. Grant requests are expected to align on measurable outcomes in our identified impact areas (community wealth-building, rural placemaking, and small communities). This opens up exciting new programming possibilities for existing grantees and will usher in new ideas and communities.

A long-term goal of the grants management system redesign is to provide new tools for our grantees to track and measure progress and create learning cycles. We will gradually build toward a system that will measure shared impact toward our common goals so we can advocate for best practices with others.

No, not in their current form. We recognize that many grantees are already working in our new impact areas, so these grantees may seize the opportunity to align their work.

We will share more details on this in the coming weeks and months, but capacity-building means investing in the assets that can make the most impact, attract the best talent, raise more money, and serve more people. The possibilities for generating measurable outcomes in our priority impact areas (community wealth-building, rural placemaking, and small communities) span program development, research/analysis, governance, human capital development, and advocacy. Capacity-building grants are more flexible and embrace valuable learnings at key milestones.

Additional communications are forthcoming. In the meantime, please take a moment to review some background on the development of the new strategic direction. If you have further questions, please email us at grants@blandinfoundation.org.

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About Grants

Check your project's fit with our eligibility guidelines and grant outcomes. All prospective projects must submit an inquiry form.
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Once you have checked for fit, begin the application process here.
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Report Forms

Current grantees – download and complete reports as outlined in your grant agreement.
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Grants At Work

The vision, hope and hard work of community leaders make rural Minnesota communities vibrant.
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Grant Lists

Lists of local and rural Minnesota (beyond local giving area) grantees.

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Contact Us

Your feedback strengthens our grantmaking. Contact us to share your thoughts. You may also subscribe to our mailing list, or contact the following Grants team members.

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Sonja Merrild

Director of Grants

Send an Email

Direct: 218-327-8746

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Linda Gibeau

Grants Program Officer – Small Communities

Send an Email

Direct: 218-326-0523

LuAnn Robinson

LuAnn Robinson

Grants Program Assistant

Send an Email

Direct: 218-327-8724

Google map of Blandin Foundation grantees across Minnesota

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Wondering what we have funded in the past? This interactive map gives you a clear picture of grants paid. Click on the map pins for specific grants, or create your own search.

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