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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.

Inquiry Portal Closed
January 24 – April 1, 2023

We are updating program criteria and installing a new grants management software system.

Planned grants will continue to be processed.

Questions? Email us at

Learn more:

Our New Strategic Direction

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


Eligible organizations and activities are:

  • Be located within the State of Minnesota
  • Authorized by the Internal Revenue Service as having Section 501(c)(3) status, being a public agency, a tribal government entity, or a unit of government
  • Comply with our Anti-Discrimination Policy

   Eligible projects must:

  • Have a clearly defined charitable purpose recognized by the Internal Revenue Service 
  • Benefit and serve rural Minnesota 

Ineligible organizations & activities are:

  • Projects outside the state of Minnesota  
  • Projects that support Minnesota metropolitan areas (Minneapolis/St. Paul, Duluth, Moorhead, Rochester, St. Cloud, Mankato) 
  • Religious activities
  • Medical research 
  • Travel grants for individuals or groups 
  • Camping and athletic programs 
  • Ordinary government services 
  • Grants solely intended to influence specific legislation or a specific candidate 

Grant Outcomes

Blandin Foundation is a strategic grantmaker. Applications from organizations working to move rural places forward may be considered following the submission of an inquiry 

Blandin Foundation’s most substantial and broadest form of grantmaking occurs in North-Central Minnesota in Itasca County and parts of the Leech Lake Reservation, including the border communities of Blackduck, Northome, Hill City, and Remer. Grants are made in this region to advance the following outcomes: 

  • Leaders are using advanced skills to better address disparities.  
  • Leaders are leveraging new resources, inspiring change, and advancing sustainability.  

Blandin Foundation also grants funds to rural Minnesota communities to advance the following outcome:  

  • Rural communities are accessing the power and resources needed to innovate, to change systems to work better for everyone, and to drive development toward a more equitable and sustainable Minnesota. 

Priority projects will:

  • Serve small communities under 20,000. 
  • Embrace change to create an equitable and sustainable future.  
  • Be inclusive and collaborative, engaging those who benefit from the intended change. 
  • Address injustice. 
  • Inform and connect community leaders on issues relevant to rural Minnesotans. 

Steps to Apply

Step 1: Check for fit

Review the eligibility and areas of focus sections above. Please note that Blandin Foundation grants only to organizations in the state of Minnesota serving communities of 35,000 people or less. Examples can be viewed in our Partner Directory.

Step 2: Inquire first

Prior to completing a full grant proposal, you must submit a letter of inquiry, providing a short description of your project.  Inquiries are reviewed weekly.

Submit an inquiry

Step 3: Anticipate deadlines

Deadlines are noted in each grant type description on the Apply page.

Step 4: Prepare your proposal

If you have been invited to submit a grant proposal, use the appropriate online or downloadable application that falls within the range of your request. If you use a downloaded application, electronic submissions are preferred and can be sent to

Step 5: Notification

For grants $50,000 and above, Blandin Foundation program staff review all grant requests and present recommendations to the Board of Trustees, which makes the final funding decision at their meetings in March, June, September, and December. Applicants receive notification of the results within days of decision and award paid out within six weeks.

Applications for grants $50,000 and less are reviewed as they are received. You will generally receive an acknowledgment within a week and a decision within 30-45 days.

Step 6: Feedback

Blandin Foundation program staff are always trying to improve their grantmaking. Constructive feedback, both positive and negative, are welcome by calling 218-327-8724, emailing or leaving a review on GrantAdvisor.

Google map of Blandin Foundation grantees across Minnesota

Spot Us

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.

View and Search Grantees

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.


Sonja Merrild

Director of Grants

Send an Email

Direct: 218-327-8746

Linda Gibeau May 2016-crop

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

More Information

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