Northwest Area Foundation

Location: 60 Plato Blvd. East, Ste. 400 St. Paul MN 55107

EIN: 41-0719221

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Phone: (651) 224-9635

Fax: (651) 225-7701




What was the overall relationship with the funder?

How many hours did the grant application process take?

6 hours




How would you rate this funder's accessibility?



How successfully do you think the funder is accomplishing its current philanthropic goals?

Important Information

2017 Deadlines: Ongoing, generally through invitation only

Types of Grants Awarded: Project, Operating, and Sponsorships

Geographic Focus: Minnesota Statewide and Other (IA, ND, SD, MT, ID, WA, OR)


The Foundation makes grants to organizations that help low-income people find and keep living wage jobs and gain the know-how to build financial stability for their households or small businesses. They focus their grantmaking on people struggling to make ends meet, especially people of color, immigrants, refugees, and Native Americans.

The Foundation directs its resources to achieve four goals:
• Supporting Enterprise Development that drives entrepreneurship and provides ownership, jobs, and train-ing opportunities to people who have been denied them in the past.
• Expanding Work Opportunity so people have pathways to quality jobs that allow them to thrive.
• Opening Access to Capital with a focus on connecting people to resources in their community in order to build the local economy.
• Promoting Financial Inclusion so families have the tools they need to climb out of poverty and stay there.

Key Personnel

President and CEO: Kevin Walker

Program Director: Karla Miller

Program Officer: Martin Jennings

Program Officer: Christianne Lind

Program Officer: Nikki Foster

Financial Summary

For Fiscal Year 2015

Total Assets: $417,374,105

Total Grants: $16,322,557

Change in Assets FY 2015: -7%

Amount of Grants to Minnesota Nonprofits: 57%

Sample Grants to Minnesota Nonprofits in 2015

Largest Grant: $1,000,000

Smallest Grant: $20,000

Average Grant: $120,000

Top descriptors for this funder

3Bureaucratic3Difficult to work with2Doesn't "get" nonprofits and issues2Builds relationships2Worth the time to pitch1Inadvertently exerts negative influence in the field1Risk averse1Culturally sensitive1Gives more than money1Positive leader in the field1Risk taker1Program officer was helpful

Advice from a Friend

Northwest Area Foundation

Feb 16, 2018

Grant Applicant - applied in 2017

I have found the program officers with whom I've worked to be straight-forward, transparent, and very knowledgeable. I realize they don't have many open processes, but their focus and priorities seem very clear.


Positive leader in the field, Culturally sensitive, Builds relationships

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Response from Northwest Area Foundation

Feb 16, 2018

Thanks for your kind feedback! It's heartening to hear that our program officers have responded to your needs.

Oct 04, 2017

Reviewer 506 - Did not apply

I would not spend a lot of time with NWAF as they apparently are not interested in hearing from agencies unless they currently fund them. They do provide place on web page to contact them, but they don't respond.


Difficult to work with, Bureaucratic

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Response from Northwest Area Foundation

Oct 05, 2017

I'm sorry that you had this experience and feel this way. But, we are absolutely interested in hearing from nonprofits. I'm curious about your experience with the contact us form, and in fact, your mentioning this has alerted us to a technical problem: we have NOT been receiving notifications that have been coming to us via our form. So, I would like to apologize to you and to any others who've been trying to use the form. And, I also have to thank you because we had not been aware of this until now. I invite you to reach out to me directly. I'm the communications director, Paul Bachleitner, and you can email me at or phone 651-225-7704. Additionally, if you or anyone else experiences problems with the form, I encourage you to also try our general Foundation phone line, which is printed on the form and on the website--651-224-9635. Thank you.

Oct 03, 2017

Professional in the field

Completely unresponsive to calls, emails, including the contact form they provide on their web. Will not respond to inquiries to general questions. Any communication is ignored, even though we are a 30 year org with long history very consistent with their priorities.


Inadvertently exerts negative influence in the field, Doesn't "get" nonprofits and issues, Difficult to work with, Bureaucratic

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Response from Northwest Area Foundation

Oct 04, 2017

I'm sorry to hear you've experienced this. It's certainly not something we want anyone to have to experience. I can't help but think there is some kind of technical error occurring in this instance because it's certainly not typical of our service or responsiveness as a foundation. Quite the opposite. I'm also at a disadvantage in responding to your concerns because I don't who you are or to what contact you're referring. I do invite you to email me at or to phone 651-225-7704, and we can address your concerns directly. Appreciatively, Paul Bachleitner, communications director.

Jul 14, 2017

Reviewer 970 - Grant Applicant

Set up a meeting with the program officer in advance so you don't jump through hurdles and know that you are a good fit with the foundation.


Doesn't "get" nonprofits and issues, Difficult to work with, Bureaucratic, Risk averse

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Response from Northwest Area Foundation

Sep 26, 2017

We're sorry to hear your interaction with the Foundation caused you to feel this way. It's certainly not the kind of experience we want grantees to have. We have been doing a lot to actually work with nonprofits to serve their needs and understand their issues. Your observation about meeting with a program officer in advance of applying is a good one. We definitely want to be sure there's a good fit before anyone applies. It's for this reason that most of our application process is by invitation only. We have actually done much, especially in the past couple of years, to not be difficult to work with, bureaucratic, or risk averse. Although you might've had a different experience, it's not a typical one had by our grantees. We invite you to take a look at our grantee listings: You'll find that we're working with all kinds of organizations, and especially those that are innovative and cutting edge.

Jun 29, 2017

Reviewer 438 - Grant Applicant - applied in 2014

Northwest Area Foundation is very focused in its mission and scope. They are quite serious when they seek 40% to Native-led organizations and the rest to organizations that are "culturally anchored."


Gives more than money, Risk taker, Builds relationships

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Response from Northwest Area Foundation

Sep 26, 2017

Thanks for the kinds words! We're glad to see that this is coming through.

Jun 15, 2016

Grant Applicant - applied in 2010

You need to know if you are a priority to them and who do you know who has some contacts in the foundation


Program officer was helpful, Funding received on time

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Response from Northwest Area Foundation

Sep 26, 2017

Thanks for pointing this out. You're absolutely right! We encourage interested nonprofits to get to know us and be sure of a good fit.

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Northwest Area Foundation