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About Grants

Check your project's fit with our eligibility guidelines and areas of focus. Steps in our application process are at the bottom of the page.


Eligible organizations and activities are:

  • Minnesota organizations serving, and preferably located in, rural communities of 35,000 residents or less
  • Project has a clearly defined charitable purpose recognized by the IRS
  • Align with Blandin Foundation’s focus areas

Ineligible organizations and activities are:

  • Projects benefiting metropolitan areas of the state (Minneapolis/St. Paul, Duluth, Moorhead, Rochester, St. Cloud, Mankato)
  • Projects outside the state of Minnesota
  • 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

Areas of Focus

Blandin Foundation is both a responsive and strategic grantmaker. We welcome applications from current and potential grantees working to strengthen rural Minnesota communities, and concentrate our investments in three primary strategic areas of focus.

Blandin Foundation’s most substantial and broadest form of grantmaking occurs in North-Central Minnesota (Itasca County and the neighboring communities of Blackduck, Northome, Hill City and Remer). We support work that helps meet the economic, social, physical, cultural and spiritual/wellness needs of Itasca-area residents.

Blandin Foundation welcomes inquires from organizations that:

In addition to community leadership training programs, Blandin Foundation offers grants to support community leaders as they think holistically and act collaboratively on systems-level (embedded policies or practices that perpetuate community inequities) issues they have identified as critical to the health and resiliency of their community.

Blandin Foundation welcomes inquires from organizations that:

  • Inform and connect community leaders to issues relevant among rural Minnesotans: leaders stay current on topics, trends and issues that impact their communities. Examples: What’s Left (an exhibit on mental illness and suicide) and MinnPost’s Immigrant Communities Reporting Project
  • Support and sustain networks of rural leaders: leaders are equipped with skills and abilities to strengthen their communities and/or lead on diversity, equity and inclusion. Examples: Minnesota Network of Community Developers, Better OUTcomes for LGBTQI, and the American Indian Oyate Network
  • Equip Blandin Leadership Program alumni to move forward a cohort-identified idea: leaders take courageous action to address barriers in their community, especially socio-economic, racial and cultural barriers. Each community cohort is eligible for three $5,000 grants and are encouraged to use the program-specific guidelines and applications. Examples: Chisholm Kids Plus and MNyou Youth Garden

Grants support projects that improve and align education, entrepreneurship, quality employment and innovations to expand opportunity for every community member.

Blandin Foundation welcomes inquiries from organizations leading projects that:

  • Engage broader sections of the current or potential workforce: create or expand educational and employment opportunities, especially for youth and people who have been persistently excluded. Examples: Women’s Foundation girlsBEST program and Northern Opportunity Works
  • Use existing assets in creative ways: incorporate a community’s economic strengths in new ways to innovate based on existing enterprises and cultural, creative, or natural assets. Examples: Rural Entrepreneurial Venture Program and Greater Bemidji’s LaunchPad.
  • Forge stronger relationships between education and employment systems: two or more entities work together to improve educational and employment outcomes for people living in rural Minnesota. Examples: Minnesota innovation Institute and AEOA Adult Scholarship Program

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, please 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 21-327-8724, 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

Program Officer - Grants Management

Send an Email

Direct: 218-327-8702

LuAnn Robinson

LuAnn Robinson

Grants Program Assistant

Send an Email

Direct: 218-327-8724

More Information

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