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Community Innovation Grants

Applications open August 2014.

Community Innovation Grants

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. Meet the 2013 recipients.

What we fund

We all know that there’s a lot of work that happens in between identifying a community problem and implementing a new “break-through” solution, especially if you want to engage your community, make the most of existing assets and work collaboratively with other organizations along the way. Our Community Innovation Grants fund that process – they fund the work that it takes to create a Community Innovation.

The Bush Foundation provides Community Innovation Grants of $10,000 to $200,000. Community Innovation Grants of $500 to $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).

Theory of change

You define your community

We look to you to identify and define your community. This could be a geographic community and it could be a community of common interest or racial/cultural identity.

You define the issue

We are not prioritizing any specific issues and instead are open to projects that address all sorts of community needs.

Projects can be at various stages of the innovation 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.  

Eligibility
Resources
  • Community Innovation Grants may be awarded to 501(c)(3) public charities or government entities (including schools). Coalitions or collaboratives are eligible to apply, but only one organization may receive the grant.
  • For organizations that do not have 501(c)(3) status, the Foundation accepts Community Innovation Grant applications from fiscal sponsors. The fiscal sponsor organization must submit the grant application and, if the grant is approved, becomes the grantee and receives the funds. The Bush Foundation fiscal sponsorship overview provides additional information.
  • Grants must be used for projects located in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota or the 23 Native nations that share the same geography.
  • Grants must be used for a charitable purpose.
Selection criteria

Fit with Community Innovation Grant Program

  • Does the project use inclusive, collaborative and resourceful processes?
      • Inclusive: meaningfully engaging key stakeholders - thoughtfully identifying those needed to create the intended change and, whenever possible, including those directly affected by the problem.
      • Collaborative: with partners willing to change to be more effective together
      • Resourceful: making the most of existing community strengths and resources
  • Is the process likely to lead to a community innovation - a breakthrough in addressing a community need that is more effective, equitable or sustainable than existing approaches?

Implementation

  • Is the project plan thoughtful, realistic and does it address the identified community need?
  • Does the applicant have the capacity to execute the work effectively or have a plan to meet the needed capacity?

Impact

  • Is the project likely to make a significant, sustainable difference, now or in the future?
  • Will the project inspire or inform others?

Additional Considerations

We seek a final portfolio of Community Innovation grantees with balance across:

  • Size of community
  • Size of applicant organization
  • Size of grant request
  • Demographics of communities served
  • Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and the 23 Native nations that share the same geography
  • Type of issue addressed

At least 50% of Community Innovation grants will be for projects that address racial and/or economic disparities. For the purposes of this grant program, the Bush Foundation defines this as proposals that seek to actively reduce structural and/or systemic gaps in access, outcomes, opportunities or treatment based on race/ethnicity or economic standing.

How to apply
Application support materials

For grants from $10,000 - $200,000

Apply online using the Bush Foundation’s online application system. If applying online presents a barrier for you, please let us know – we’d be happy to help.

Once you’ve started an application in our online system, you can save it and return later to continue working anytime. To return to an in-process application, login to our online application program using the link and the password contained in the confirmation email you received when you created your account.

For grants from $500 - $10,000

We partner with the Headwaters Foundation for Justice (MN), The Consensus Council (ND) and the South Dakota Community Foundation (SD) to provide Community Innovation Grants for projects with budgets of $500 - $10,000. The program content and criteria for these grants is the same as the Community Innovation Grants offered here at the Bush Foundation. Applications are reviewed quarterly by each of our partner organizations. Interested applicants can apply directly to the state program most applicable for their project using the links above.

Deadlines

The next round of Community Innovation Grants will be open for applications between August – October 2014, with funding decisions made in early 2015.

Selection process

Initial Review.

Our Community Innovation Team will do an initial review of applications, after which a portion of applications will move on to a final review panel. We will let you know whether or not your application is moving on to the final panel.

Final Selection.

We will conduct a phone interview to learn more about your project. A final review panel (comprised of Bush Foundation staff, Board members and community partners) will select the Community Innovation Grant recipients. We will let you know whether or not you’ve received funding.

We will review applications in three pools: Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota and the 23 Native nations that share the geography of those states. Native nations, projects, programs, or organizations that cross state borders will be considered in the applicant pool where the majority of their work takes place.

All selections ARE based on program eligibility requirements and criteria.

WORKING WITH COMMUNITY INNOVATION GRANTEES

The Foundation hopes to build a supportive relationship with Community Innovation grantees by:

Working Together

We’ll create a grant agreement based on your proposal, including an agreed upon timeline for the project and use of funds.

We’ll be responsive and direct in our communication with you, and will be available to you throughout our grant agreement. We hope to build a relationship that is supportive when you want us to be, without being in your way. We want you to be able to focus on what you do best.

Learning and Evaluation

We want to know if we’re making a difference, and will ask you to participate in our evaluation of the Community Innovation Grants program. We will use what we learn together to improve this grant program over time.

We will ask you to share key lessons learned (successes as well as challenges) during meetings with you and as part of your interim and final grant reports. These reports will be shared publicly on the Bush Foundation website.

We acknowledge that not all grant projects will lead to a community innovation. And, in fact, sometimes the path to an innovation includes unexpected or undesirable outcomes. Learning from these moments is an important part of creating new community solutions and we look forward to doing that with you.  

We’ll invite you to participate in Bush Foundation sponsored events for grantees to meet one another, share the stories of your work and learn together.

Sharing Your Story

We want to publicly recognize the good work that grantees are doing. You will be requested to provide basic content about your project for the Bush Foundation website.

We may request that you share periodic, informal updates for the Bush Foundation to use in online media promotions.

We’re here to help

For more information, or to talk with someone on the Community Innovation team, call 651-379-2266 or email CommunityInnovation@bushfoundation.org.

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