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

  • Located in rural Minnesota
  • Have Internal Revenue Service 501(c)3 status or are a tribal government or unit of government
  • Align with Blandin Foundation’s focus areas, listed below.

Ineligible organizations and activities are

Projects targeted to metropolitan areas of the state:

  • Minneapolis/St. Paul
  • Duluth
  • Moorhead
  • Rochester
  • St. Cloud
  • Mankato

Projects with the following purposes:

  • Outside the state of Minnesota
  • Urban projects
  • Religious activities
  • Medical research
  • Travel grants for individuals or groups
  • Camping and athletic programs
  • Ordinary government services
  • Grants benefitting individuals
  • Grants solely intended to influence specific legislation or a specific candidate

Areas of Focus

Blandin Foundation’s vision for its work is healthy, inclusive rural communities. This vision drives the Foundation’s priorities, including areas of focus for grant-making.

Focus Area 1: Expand Opportunity

Blandin Foundation seeks the blend of educational attainment, economic opportunity and broader inclusion in rural Minnesota communities, so all residents have greater opportunities to prosper.

Priority will be given to projects that demonstrate:
  • A strategy involving inter-relationships between economy, education and inclusivity
  • Clear outcomes such as expanded enterprises and entrepreneurship, increased educational or economic success for populations that have faced historical barriers, and expanded relationships between educational systems, employers and parents.

Focus Area 2: Itasca County Area Vitality

The Foundation carries on the legacy and commitments of businessman and Blandin Foundation founder Charles K. Blandin to his adopted hometown of Grand Rapids, Minn., and surrounding communities. These are grants primarily for cultural, social services and educational activities that directly benefit communities of Itasca County and the neighboring communities of Blackduck, Northome, Hill City and Remer, Minn.

You should know:
  • A minimum of 60 percent of the Foundation’s grant-making is reserved for the direct benefit of its home communities. This includes grants made through other focus areas.
  • Low priority is placed on large capital grants, recreation and community amenities.
Priority will be given to projects that demonstrate:
  • Clear articulation of strategies and outcomes that will strengthen the local community, with particular consideration given to proposals that allow vulnerable families and individuals to live in greater dignity.
  • Cost-effective service delivery strategies, including evidence of collaboration with organizations addressing similar issues. Also, commitment to continuous improvement.
  • Evidence of significant matching contributions.

Focus Area 3: Rural Community Leadership

Blandin Foundation has had more than a quarter-century commitment to developing and sustaining the capacity of rural residents to build healthy communities. Its primary investment in this focus area has been, and will continue to be, through its Blandin Community Leadership Programs. In addition, a small number of grants will be made to support leadership development efforts that complement those of the Foundation.

You should know:
  • Priority will be given to projects that demonstrate rural leaders acting collaboratively on community strengthening efforts.
  • Grants are available for Blandin Leadership Program alumni through a separate fund, Blandin Leadership Program grants.
  • Grants for communities pursuing broadband feasibility studies and efforts to increase broadband adoption and use are available through Community Broadband Projects.

Steps to Apply

Step 1: Check for fit

Review the eligibility and areas of focus sections above. Please note that Blandin Foundation does not consider grants from outside of the state of Minnesota.

Step 2: Best to inquire

Prior to completing a full grant proposal, it is best to submit a simple letter of inquiry, providing a short description of your project idea. Inquiries are reviewed weekly. Click here to submit your inquiry online.

If your inquiry is consistent with Foundation objectives, you may be invited to submit a full proposal.

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 application, or download the appropriate application form. If you use a downloaded application, email the completed grant proposal to grants@blandinfoundation.org. Electronic submissions are preferred. Do not feel that you must turn to outside experts or consultants to help you write the proposal.

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 June, September, December and March. Applicants receive notification of the results within days of decision and payment within six weeks (broadband grants may vary).

Applications for most project-based initiatives, Blandin Leadership Program grants, and Itasca Area community donations are reviewed as they are received. You will generally receive a response within a week.

Step 6: Stay in touch

Organizations that receive awards are required to provide progress reports and other documentation relating to use and impact of funding provided. Blandin Foundation grants staff will provide additional information about this requirement.

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.