Minnesota Humanities Center

Cultural Identity Grants

Everything you need to know about applying for the grant is below, but, if you would rather have a conversation about the opportunity, give us a call. We would love to talk to you. Contact Jamie Kavanah, grants administrat0r, at 651-772-4251 or jamie@mnhum.org.

Applicant Training

The Minnesota Humanities Center (MHC) hosted an online applicant training for this grant. If you were unable to participate in the live training, you may view the recording.

Grant Description

Through the Legacy Arts and Cultural Heritage Funds, MHC will award grants to American Indians and nonprofit organizations led by Native peoples, and immigrants and nonprofit organizations led by immigrants.

Pending sales tax revenue totals, we estimate approximately $700,000 will be awarded in this round. All projects must be competed no later than December 31, 2021.

These funds will be administered according to the intent and language of Minnesota State Legislature Article 4, Section 2, Subdivision 8, (d): “The Minnesota Humanities Center must operate a competitive grants program to provide grants to programs that preserve and honor the cultural heritage of Minnesota or that provide education and student outreach on cultural diversity or to programs that empower communities to build their identity and culture. Priority must be given to grants for individuals and organizations working to create, celebrate, and teach Indigenous arts and cultural activities and arts organizations and programs preserving, sharing, and educating on the arts and cultural heritage of immigrant communities in Minnesota.”

The process, scope, and criteria for these grant were co-designed through rich conversations and meaningful input shared between MHC and American Indian and immigrant organizations and individuals. MHC is honored to administer these funds in support of projects that amplify and celebrate American Indian and immigrant arts, culture, and heritage in Minnesota.

Grant Goals

Aligning with the intent and legislative language of this grant opportunity, the goals of these grants are to:

  • Preserve and honor the cultural heritage of Minnesota
  • Provide education and student outreach on cultural diversity
  • Empower communities to build their identity and culture.

Aligning with the outcomes of the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, these grants should also:

  • Amplify American Indian arts, culture, and heritage in Minnesota AND/OR
  • Increase the depth and breadth of Minnesotans who will connect with American Indian arts, culture, and heritage.
  • Amplify immigrant arts, culture, and heritage in Minnesota AND/OR
  • Increase the depth and breadth of Minnesotans who will connect with immigrant arts, culture, and heritage.

Eligibility and State Funding Requirements

Who is eligible:

  • American Indian individuals and nonprofit organizations led by Native peoples based in Minnesota
  • Immigrants and nonprofit organizations led by immigrants based in Minnesota
  • 501c registered public charities (per IRS), or nonprofits with a fiscal sponsor (also must be based in Minnesota), or individuals (individuals may apply with a fiscal sponsor or on their own and assume all related tax implications)
  • Organizations in good standing with the IRS
  • Does not appear on the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) Sanctions list
  • Up to date on reporting and state requirements for any funds previously awarded by the Minnesota Humanities Center

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

State Funding Requirements:
The Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, which underwrites this opportunity, requires that proposed and/or awarded funds support new work or new additions to existing work. These funds must supplement, not substitute, other funding sources – in other words, this grant cannot cover expenses for ongoing projects.

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
  • Purchase promotional giveaway items like t-shirts, keychains, etc.
  • Fund out-of-state expenses, including out of state travel

If an individual, organization, or project does not meet all of the above requirements, we will not consider the application.

Selection Process and Timeline

This grant has two steps: an initial project overview, and a semifinalist round. This process allows applicants to spend less time upfront and allows for further information to be conveyed through conversation with the review panel.

Step One

Initial Project Overview

Applicants will submit a basic summary of their proposed project. An independent review panel of community members will review the materials and select a small number of semifinalists to move to step two.

Step Two

Semifinalists’ Phone Call with Panel

Semifinalists may have a phone call with panelists about their proposals to share additional information, answer questions, and prepare for the semifinalist full proposal. In addition to the full proposal, the information shared during the phone call informs the panel’s final recommendations. Semifinalists requesting $15,000 or less are not required to participate in a phone call with panelists but may choose to do so if they want. MHC will work with those semifinalists and semifinalists requesting more than $15,000 to set up a phone call with the independent review panel.

If English is not your preferred language, please let us know so we can arrange to have an interpreter present during the call.

Full Proposal

Semifinalists will submit a full proposal about their project. The same independent review panel of community members will review all submitted materials and make final award recommendations to MHC.


11:59 p.m., October 7, 2020 – Grant Closes/Initial Project Overview Deadline
October 23, 2020 – Applicant/Semifinalist Notifications
October 28-November 4, 2020 – Phone Calls with Semifinalists and Panelists
November 20, 2020 – Semifinalist Full Proposals Deadline
December 21, 2020 – Semifinalist/Awardee Notifications

Grantees will be announced publicly on MHC’s website in January 2021.

Assessment Criteria

The following criteria will be used by the independent review panel to assess initial project overviews:

  • Evidence that the project/idea comes from community-identified need/opportunity
    • To what degree does the applicant reflect the community they serve? Is the applicant an American Indian or immigrant organization or individual?
    • To what degree did the community decide this project was needed/wanted? How involved was/is the community in the planning and development of the project?
  • Alignment with grant goals
    • To what degree does the project:
      Preserve and honor the cultural heritage of Minnesota OR
      Provide education and student outreach on cultural diversity OR
      Empower communities to build their identity and culture?
    • To what degree does the project:
      Amplify American Indian or immigrant arts, culture, and heritage in Minnesota AND/OR
      increase the depth and breadth of Minnesotans who will connect with American Indian or immigrant arts, culture, and heritage?
  • Alignment with state funding requirements
    • To what degree is the project new work or new additions to existing work (rather than replacing/supplanting existing funds for ongoing work)?

In addition to the criteria above, the panel may consider the diversity of the overall awardee pool, including geographic location, project topic, audience, etc.

Looking Ahead: View semifinalist assessment criteria.

How to Apply

Eligible organizations and individuals can submit proposals in any of the following formats: online form, email, video, or audio message. You may also feel free to suggest an alternative method to MHC at least one week in advance of the deadline.

Regardless of format, applications must include the following information:

  1. Organization or Individual Applicant Name
  2. Organization or Individual Applicant Address (must be based in Minnesota)
  3. Organization’s Employer Identification Number (EIN) or Fiscal Sponsor’s Name and EIN
  4. Project contact information (Name, phone number, and email address)
  5. If applying as an organization: Describe the work you do, including your organization’s mission and vision. How does your organization (staff, board, programming) reflect American Indian or immigrant communities?
    If applying as an individual: What do you want to tell us about your work overall and how you identify with the American Indian or immigrant experience as it relates to your project?
    For individual American Indian applicants: Share your lineal descent.
  6. What’s your proposed project? What will you do? Is this a new project or an expansion to an existing project?
  7. Where did your project idea come from/who decided that this project was needed/wanted for the community? How have American Indian or immigrant communities been involved in the planning and development of the project?
  8. How does your project align with the grant goals? How will this project preserve and honor the cultural heritage of Minnesota, provide education and student outreach on cultural diversity, or empower communities to build their identity and culture? How will this project amplify American Indian or immigrant arts, culture, and heritage in Minnesota and/or increase the depth and breadth of Minnesotans who will connect with American Indian or immigrant arts, culture, and heritage?
  9. How much are you requesting?
  10. What will you spend the funds on? Include a budget with specific line items and how much each will cost. You can use this optional budget template or whatever budget format your organization already uses. (Be sure to check your proposed expenses against the State Funding Requirements listed above). If a fiscal agent is involved, include their administration expense.
  11. (Optional) How did you hear about this grant opportunity?

MHC staff would be happy to talk with you about your project ideas and provide feedback (written or a phone conversation) on your draft proposal. Please contact Jamie Kavanah at jamie@mnhum.org or 651-772-4251 any time before September 23, 2020.

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

  • Online form: Submit through our Online Form
  • Email: Send your proposal (preferred file type: Word or PDF) to submissions@mnhum.org
  • Video: Email us a link to your video (no longer than six minutes) to submissions@mnhum.org
  • Audio Message: Leave us a message at 651-772-4263 to set up an opportunity to speak your application, or email us an audio recording (no longer than six minutes; preferred file type: mp3) to submissions@mnhum.org

If you have questions or would like to submit your proposal in a way not mentioned above, contact Jamie Kavanah, grants and administrator: jamie@mnhum.org or 651-772-4251.

Looking Ahead: Semifinalists will submit their full proposals through Foundant, MHC’s online grant system. Instructions for setting up an account, accessing, and filling out the application will be emailed to semifinalists when they are notified on October 23, 2020. View full proposal questions.

Shared Definitions and FAQs

American Indian/Immigrant Organizations: Organizations will be considered an American Indian /immigrant organization if the majority of their staff and/or board is American Indian or immigrant, the mission of the organization is to serve American Indian /immigrant communities, and/or the majority of the organization’s programming is for American Indian /immigrant communities.

Immigrants: Peoples who now call this place home and recently came from other lands. MHC acknowledges immigrants and refugees are not the same. We recognize people who have been forced to leave their country of origin to escape war, persecution, or natural disasters may not consider themselves immigrants.

American Indian: The term American Indian is the preferred name used by the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council and refers to the indigenous peoples of this land, honoring their sovereignty and relationships to this land and the US government. MHC believes and supports the principle that the peoples with the longest relationship to this land are to be called by whatever names they give themselves. There are many different peoples bearing such names as Dakota, Anishinaabe, Ho Chunk, and so on. These are the “real” names of the people. It is the intent of the authors of this legislation that the term indigenous is synonymous with American Indian, Dakota, Anishinaabe, Ho Chunk, Indian people, etc.

2019-2021 Legislative Biennium: July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2021.

Arts and Cultural Heritage Programming: The legislative language identifies the arts as an expression of culture and cultural heritage. Because MHC is not a general arts funder, any arts related activities in these proposals should have a clear connection to the applicant’s identified culture and cultural heritage. Additionally, MHC does not define what is or isn’t a part of culture or cultural heritage; we listen to communities who can shape and share that.

Humanities: The humanities help us express, examine, 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 public activities – including storytelling, cultural preservation and education, community dialogue and place based learning – that help us learn about our humanity and the human experience.

Q: We are an American Indian or immigrant organization with a fiscal sponsor that is not an American Indian or immigrant organization. Are we still eligible?
A: Yes! As long as decision-making responsibilities (in regards to your project) stay with the American Indian or immigrant organization, then you would still be eligible.

Q: I received a microgrant—can I apply for/receive a larger grant?
A: Yes! An organization or individual may apply and receive both one microgrant and a larger grant (from Round 3 or 4), as long as they are eligible and the microgrant is completed before the larger grant begins. Also note—an applicant does not need to have received a microgrant in order to receive a larger grant.

Q: I received a grant in Round 3—can I apply for/receive a grant in this round?
A: If you received a grant in Round 3, you are not eligible to receive a grant in Round 4 for the same project.

Q: What does a successful project look like?
A: A successful project is one that addresses and reflects the needs of the communities served by the applicant seeking funding – you! In other words, we want you to define what success looks like in your community.

Q: How much can we apply for?
A: There’s no minimum or maximum amount you can apply for. Applicants should consider:

  • MHC will not make any single award more than what the state has appropriated ($700,000 for Round 4) and we expect to make multiple grants to have the greatest impact statewide.
  • The review panel will consider whether the amount is realistic based on the timeline and scope of the proposed activities, and whether the expenses are allowable and will ensure the success of the project.
  • An appropriate ask amount is one that ensures the success of your project. We recommend building a budget that makes sense for the proposed activities – if you can provide evidence or rationale for why things cost what they do and how they are critical for making an impact, the ask amount is probably appropriate.
  • An option for choosing an ask amount that some applicants use is to base it on a percentage of their total organizational operating budget.

Q: Can we receive feedback about our grant?
A: Yes, MHC will be happy to help review drafts of your proposal no later than one week before the deadline, as well as provide panel feedback to you following grant notifications. We first share written feedback and comments and can have discussion(s) beyond that if you would like.

Q: What is the grant period for completing awarded projects?
A: January 2021 – December 2021

Q: If awarded, what reporting requirements will I have to complete?
A: Grantees will be required to submit an interim report and a final report. These reports are designed for grantees to provide MHC with project progress and financial updates that we need to submit to the state’s Legacy website. Sample reports are available to give you an idea of what to expect.

Public Data Policy

Per Minn. Stat. § 13.599, the names and addresses of grant applicants become public data when MHC opens the grant proposals. All other data (except trade secret data as defined and classified in §13.37) in grant proposals, and data created or maintained by MHC as part of the evaluation process, become public data once a grant agreement is fully executed (signed by both the grantee’s authorized representative and MHC’s). Anyone can request to see or receive a copy of public data, which is maintained by MHC. Grant project information will be posted to the Legacy website.

Contact Us

Jamie Kavanah