Minnesota Humanities Center

Community Partner Fund

MHC acknowledges that the funding/granting process can create barriers and fatigue. Everything you will need to apply is below, but if you’d rather have a conversation, give us a call. We’ll walk you through it. Contact Laura Benson, assistant director of grants and administration, at 651-772-4244 or laura@mnhum.org.

Community Partner Fund: Program Description

This two-year funding opportunity fosters collaboration between two or more neighborhood or community organizations to address community-identified goals and opportunities. The focus reflects two core beliefs:

  1. Neighborhoods and community organizations are often the keepers and carriers of cultures, histories, and heritages.
  2. Effective partnerships among these organizations have the power to build strong relationships, address community goals, and amplify voices that have been stolen, erased, or misrepresented.

The Minnesota Humanities Center will award two organizations up to $100,000 each over two years. We will work with them over three phases: planning, development, and implementation.

Program Goals and Practices


  • Connect Minnesotans to community histories and heritages that have been left out, stolen, erased, or marginalized.
  • Foster partnerships among community organizations.
  • Create opportunities for all Minnesotans to get directly involved as critical thinkers and change makers in their communities.

The Fund is rooted in our values and practices:

  • Learn from and with multiple voices
  • Build and strengthen diverse relationships
  • Recognize the inequity or dangers of a single story
  • Amplify community solutions for change

Selection Process and Timeline

There will be two rounds in the 2019 selection process.

  1. Our staff will review Statements of Interest from interested and eligible applicants. Semi-finalists will be invited to submit full proposals.
  2. We will work with all semi-finalists to develop their full proposal. An independent panel will review full proposals and make recommendations to MHC.

April 28, 2019 – State of Interest Deadline
May 10, 2019 – Semifinalist Notification
May 10-June 21, 2019 – MHC Staff Work with Semifinalists to Draft Proposal
June 21, 2019 – Full Proposal Deadline
July 31, 2019 – Grantee Notification

Eligibility and State Funding Requirements

Who is eligible:
Nonprofit organizations (either 501(c)3s or nonprofits with a fiscal sponsor), Tribal Nations, and state/municipal public agencies such as K-12 schools, colleges/universities, or libraries are eligible to apply. All organizations must be based in Minnesota, in good standing with the IRS, and up to date on reporting and state requirements for any funds previously awarded by the Humanities Center. We do not grant to individuals.

Note: In good standing with the IRS means that the organization has completed all reporting requirements and is therefore eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions. We use the IRS Tax Exempt Organization Search to confirm IRS compliance.

Fund requirement:
The Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, which underwrites this grant program, requires that proposed and/or awarded funds support new work or new additions to existing work. These funds must supplement, not act as a substitute for, other funding sources.

The Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund prohibits funds from being used to:

  • Start, match, add to, or complete any type of capital campaign
  • Support capital costs (such as improvements, construction, property, or equipment)
  • Pay for indirect costs or other institutional overhead charges that are not directly related and proportional to, and necessary for, the activities outlined in the program proposal
  • Cover expenditures incurred before the date we authorize you to begin work
  • Support benefits and fundraisers

If an organization or project does not meet all of the above requirements, it will not be considered.

How to Apply – Round One

Eligible organizations can submit Statements of Interest in any of the following formats: online form, postal mail, video, or phone message. You may also suggest an alternative method to us.

Statements of Interest, regardless of format, must include the following information:

  1. Organization name and geographic location (including city and state)
  2. Eligible organization type (and if applicable, Org EIN or fiscal sponsor information)
  3. Applicant’s name
  4. Phone and email contact information for notification
  5. Explanation of your project/idea, how it amplifies an absent narrative or narratives, and how your project/idea addresses a community-identified need/opportunity. Make sure you tell us how you know that this need/opportunity is community-identified.
  6. How much you expect it to cost (up to $100,000)

Ready to submit? Respond to the questions above by one of the following methods:

  • Online: Submit through our online form
  • Phone: Leave us a message at 651-772-4276
  • Email: Send to submissions@mnhum.org
  • Video: Email us a link (no longer than 6 minutes) to submissions@mnhum.org
  • Postal Mail: Postmark by the deadline to:Minnesota Humanities Center
    c/o Community Partner Fund Applications
    987 Ivy Avenue East
    Saint Paul, Minnesota 55106

If you have questions or would like to submit your Statement of Interest in another way than those mentioned above, contact Laura Benson, assistant director of grants and administration: laura@mnhum.org or 651-772-4244.

Round One Assessment Criteria

Statements of Interest will be assessed on:

  • Ability to address the expected Partner Fund goals
  • Project’s potential to include the humanities*

*The humanities help us express, explore, and learn what it means to be human. They include our cultures, languages, ethics, civics, stories, religions, laws, philosophies, histories, and more. Humanities can refer to these disciplines as well as the activities and actions that help us learn about our humanity.

In addition to the criteria above, preference will be given to organizations whose staff and board reflect the communities they are serving, organizations led by people of color and Indigenous peoples, and/or organizations in greater Minnesota.

Program Timeline

Aug. 16, 2019 – Organizations under agreement
Aug. – Sept. 2019 – Work plan finalized (including timeline for three phases and interim/final reporting for each phase)
Sept. 2019 – Project directors meet
May 2020 – Up to $50K must be spent
May 2021 – Project concludes and final reports due

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Jamie Kavanah