About Us

In the early 1980s, declines in cornerstone industries like farming and mining were stripping rural communities of people, jobs, and hope. Believing that the people of rural Minnesota were best positioned to make decisions for themselves, the McKnight Foundation joined forces with Greater Minnesota leaders to take action. McKnight envisioned a regional strategy that would encourage local giving and local responsibility for the long-term welfare of each region. The experiment worked.

Today, the Minnesota Initiative Foundations are strong, independent entities that are built to respond to regional needs and opportunities. Each foundation is independent and serves its region with unique grants, business loans, leadership programs and donor services.

To date, the foundations also receive support from governments, other foundations, businesses and individuals who wish to invest in the future of their communities. In the years since, McKnight has invested a total of $285 million, which has fueled dispersal of $430 million in grants and loans since inception in economic impact across Greater Minnesota.

“The Minnesota Initiative Foundation regions are so vast, and also so very different, that over the years, McKnight has continued to see a deep value in the partnership. The Minnesota Initiative Foundations can do things that we can’t easily do.

– Kara Carlisle, McKnight Foundation vice president of programs