You are here

Community Innovation Grants

We’ve heard from organizations throughout the region that today’s changing community needs and complex challenges require new thinking and new approaches. However, the day-to-day pressures of work - operationally and financially - make it hard to step back and engage the community to think bigger and think differently to create new solutions to community problems. These grants are designed for organizations to do just that - to lead the process of creating a community innovation.

Want to engage your community to solve a problem?

Want to use the current strengths and resources in your community as a starting point in your problem-solving?

Want to work collaboratively with other groups and organizations to create solutions that are better than what any one of you could achieve alone?

These grants are definitely for you.

Community Innovation grants support communities to use problem-solving processes that lead to more effective, equitable and sustainable solutions. Think of it as civic R&D, allowing communities to develop and test new solutions to community challenges.

We know that creating community change isn’t actually this linear. Its often messy, hard, circular work. But, this image hopefully paints a picture of the phases along the way that we’re looking to fund. Whether you’re in the process of identifying a need in your community or are much further along and are seeking funding to test and implement a potential solution, we welcome your application. We are also open to funding proposals for communities to build their capacity to effectively take any of the steps toward creating an innovation.

We know that there are many ways to approach solving a community problem. In this program, we are particularly interested in supporting processes that are inclusive, collaborative and resourceful.

Take a look at our 2013 Community Innovation Grant recipients for some examples of recently funded projects through this program.

Program Basics

  • You can apply for a Community Innovation Grant of $10,000 to $200,000 from the Bush Foundation. Community Innovation Grants of $500 - $10,000 are available from our intermediary partner organizations: Headwaters Foundation for Justice (MN), The Consensus Council (ND) and the South Dakota Community Foundation (SD). Visit our How to Apply page for more information

  • We look to you to identify and define your community. This could be a geographic community (e.g., a neighborhood, town, state or Native nation) and it could be a community of common interest or racial/cultural identity.

  • We are not prioritizing any specific issues and instead are open to projects that address all sorts of community needs. In addition, projects can be at various stages of the problem-solving process including identifying the need, increasing collective understanding of the issue, generating ideas, or testing and implementing solutions. Proposals can focus on one area or span multiple stages.  

  • Bush Foundation staff will work with grantees to agree upon the appropriate grant period for their project. We anticipate most grants will use their funds within two years.

  • There will be two Community Innovation Grant open application periods in 2014: January 14th to March 13th and late-August to late-October.

  • Curious where the arrow and community process images came from? Click here to view an image we’ve created with Wilder Research to depict the type of work we want to invest in through this program.

Do you have a track record of creating community innovations and you’re looking for recognition and creative capital? Consider applying for the Bush Prize for Community Innovation.

Questions? We’re here to help! Contact the Community Innovation team at or 651-379-2266