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Grant Inquiry Portal Closing

Event Details

January 29, 2023

Inquiry Portal Closed Starting
Tuesday, 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

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.

In recognition of our longstanding partnerships, and the time it will take to adjust to new grants programs and processes, we are carefully bridging grantmaking to the new system using the following framework:

  • All grants currently open are being honored.
  • All active Committed Connection grants in the Grand Rapids area whose terms run through 2023 can apply for transition funding later this summer. We will contact these grantees directly with application guidance.
  • Other current Grand Rapids area grant recipients whose terms end in 2023 will have an opportunity to apply for a bridge grant while we adapt to a new system.
  • A small number of grant applicants that had submitted proposals targeting the new priority areas at the time of the grants portal closure in January of this year are being processed.
  • In accordance with beta testing protocols, a handful of grant applicants were invited to help test our new online grant application system to ensure it is fully functional before it becomes broadly accessible.

We do not yet have a firm date for the portal reopening, 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 local funding region 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. His focus was on strengthening organizations to ensure they could sustain their missions long-term. 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

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