Mcknight Foundation

Location: 710 South Second St., Ste. 400 Minneapolis MN 55401

EIN: 41-0754835

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Phone: (612) 333-4220

Fax: (612) 332-3833




What was the overall relationship with the funder?

How many hours did the grant application process take?

20 hours




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

Important Information

2017 Deadlines: Various programs have different deadlines. See website for details.

Types of Grants Awarded: Project, Operating, Capital

Geographic Focus: Minnesota Statewide, Twin Cities Metro, national and international countries/areas.


• Arts: Supports organizations that aid working artists, with capacity and systems in place to develop and share their work.
• Education and Learning: Works to increase the percentage of successful 3rd-grade readers, especially in those underserved, and increase access to quality learning beyond the classroom.
• International: Promotes strong rural livelihoods and food security internationally.
• Midwest Climate and Energy: Supports organizations that focus on addressing climate change by reducing heat-trapping emission in all economic sectors.
• Minnesota Initiative Foundations: Supports the six Minnesota Initiative Foundations.
• Mississippi River: Restores the water quality and resilience of the Mississippi River by restoring and protecting floodplains and wetlands .
• Neuroscience: Works to bring science closer to when diseases of the brain and behavior can be accu-rately diagnosed, prevented, and treated.
• Region and Communities: Increases efficient and sustainable regional metropolitan development that creates livable communities and expands opportunities for all to thrive

Key Personnel

President: Kate Wolford

Vice President of Program: Neal Cuthbert

Vice President of Finance and Compliance: Rick Scott

Vice President of Operations: Bernadette Christiansen

Communications Director: Na Eng

Financial Summary

For Fiscal Year 2015

Total Assets: $2,192,482,346

Total Grants: $88,408,637

Change in Assets FY 2015: -3%

Amount of Grants to Minnesota Nonprofits: 65%

Sample Grants to Minnesota Nonprofits in 2015

Largest Grant: $8,500,000

Smallest Grant: $1,000

Average Grant: $180,000

Top descriptors for this funder

8Worth the time to pitch8Positive leader in the field6Builds relationships4Repeat funding3Gives more than money2"Gets" nonprofits and issues2Insightful2Likes site visits2Openminded2Responsive2Risk taker1Culturally incompetent

Advice from a Friend

Mcknight Foundation

Sep 06, 2017

Grant Applicant - applied in 2017

If there seems to be a fit, reach out to them. I have found the team I work with, and one program officer in particular, to be extremely helpful and forthcoming. They have an intellectual and theoretical approach to their work, but will help drill down and back up so it's more accessible to on-the-ground work. I also, like other reviewers, greatly appreciate their support for systems-change work.


Positive leader in the field, Gives more than money, Risk taker, Insightful, Builds relationships, Openminded, Responsive

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Jul 11, 2017

Grant Applicant

Greatly appreciate McKnights willingness to tackle complicated policy issues at high systems levels. It's so important - thank you!

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Jul 10, 2017 2

Reviewer 524 - Grant Applicant

The McKnight Foundation chose to create six greater mn mini-foundations called the Initiative Funds in 1985. The concept was sold as Increasing philantrophy to nonprofits, etc. in Greater Mn. Grantmaking in greater mn would increase because the initiative funds would grow philantrophy from the private sector. As a nonprofit leader in greater Mn I would say that after 32 years of the Initiative fund experiment the Initiative Funds have grown philantrophy for their own organizations, but have had little impact on increasing private philantrophy and capacity for nonprofits in Greater Mn. The Minneapolis based Mcknight Foundation discontinued funding of Greater Mn nonprofits directly many years ago and recommends rural nonprofits go to their local Initiative Fund for grants. Initiative Funds make few and very small grants. Creative rural projects that need greater resources must look elsewhere for adequate funding and support.
The local Initiative Funds are now competitors with local nonprofits for private philantrophy from corporations, individuals, foundations, and local, state, and federal government dollars. The Initiative Funds have grown large, well paid professional staffs to enhance their competition for resources. Minneapolis McKnight needs to revisit their original purpose of growing private philantrophy in Greater Mn and focus on developing strong, resilient, and economically creative communites in rural Mn. McKnight Minneapolis needs to resume grantmaking directly to projects in Greater Mn that are community based and are impactful. The Initiative Funds are too busy competing forlocal resources and self promotion to impact rural issues.


Inadvertently exerts negative influence in the field, Doesn't "get" nonprofits and issues, Culturally incompetent, Risk averse

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Response from Mcknight Foundation

Sep 01, 2017

Thank you for your comments on the Minnesota Initiative Foundations (MIFs). We can certainly appreciate the struggle for funds in Greater Minnesota. We must, however, correct some of the inaccurate statements in this review.

The MIFs contribute to strong, vibrant communities and serve as a model for locally powered, rural philanthropy.

Since their inception, they have collectively given away more than $200 million to more than 34,000 nonprofit organizations in Greater Minnesota. Contrary to the reviewer’s statement, this amount is substantially more than what McKnight had granted directly prior to the creation of the MIFs.

Furthermore, grantmaking is only one small part of what the MIFs do. With economic development a central part of their mission, the MIFs offer small business loans and technical assistance for new entrepreneurs to help grow the regional economy. They have invested about $252 million in local businesses in Greater Minnesota, creating or retaining more than 46,000 jobs.

In addition to our support of the MIFs, McKnight is pleased to fund many individuals, organizations, and communities throughout the state through a variety of awards and direct grant such as affordable housing in Duluth; the Regional Arts Councils; clean energy projects throughout the state, and many others. In fact, half of the funds McKnight distributed last year in the state of MN went toward Greater MN or statewide programs.

While we need to correct the facts for the record, we do appreciate hearing these concerns, and we urge you to raise these questions to the MIFs directly. By design, they are autonomous foundations with independent boards that make their own decisions on how to allocate resources.

Jul 06, 2017

Reviewer 438 - Grant Applicant

It's McKnight. One of those foundations your board keeps asking you to "get money from." But McKnight, while huge, is very specific in its interest and priority areas. Their staff is trained to be responsive. I have never waited too long for a call back, and I've submitted within four of their grant programs. I usually understand fully why an organization is/is not eligible after reading the guidelines, but staff has provided additional clarity. The proposals I've submitted AFTER talking with staff (and being encouraged to apply) have a high percentage of getting funded.


Positive leader in the field, Builds relationships, Likes site visits

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Jun 26, 2017

Grant Applicant - applied in 2016

They have had webinars to explain their funding priorities and have worked to make a personal connection to our organization.


Positive leader in the field, Gives more than money, Insightful, Friendly, Builds relationships, Responsive

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Response from Mcknight Foundation

Sep 01, 2017

Yes, we recently had a webinar on our Mississippi River program. You can watch that here:

Jun 26, 2017

Reviewer 580 - Grant Applicant - applied in 2017

McKnight is a very generous but casual organization. The proposals are fairly easy to complete. It's more about the site visit, your history with them as a grantee, your reputation in the community, and whether your work fits their priorities.


Positive leader in the field, Builds relationships, Likes site visits, "Gets" nonprofits and issues, Openminded

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Jun 23, 2017

Reviewer 827 - Grant Applicant - applied in 2016

This foundation is great! They're accessible and committed to investing strategically and meaningfully in the community.


Positive leader in the field, Risk taker, Culturally sensitive, Builds relationships, "Gets" nonprofits and issues

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Jun 15, 2016

Grant Applicant - applied in 2010

Go for it!


Worth the time to pitch, Repeat funding, Positive leader in the field

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Jun 15, 2016

Grant Applicant - applied in 2015

Go big or go home.


Worth the time to pitch, Funding equaled requested amount

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Jun 15, 2016

Grant Applicant - applied in 2014

this is a very competitive funder. Be prepared and knowledgable


Worth the time to pitch

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Mcknight Foundation